There is a trend currently going on among hydroponic growers who are growing trees in their hydroponic systems. Although trees are more complicated to grow and maintain, the trend has grown significantly over the past years. It made me wonder, can we grow bananas hydroponically?
So, can you grow bananas hydroponically? Yes, banana trees can be grown using hydroponics. Moreover, the production yield will be significantly higher than trees grown in soil. However, banana trees need some special adjustments to thrive in hydroponic systems.
For the first while, you might get overwhelmed about the idea of growing bananas hydroponically, especially because it is more complicated than other popular crops like leafy greens. I have been there too, but there is nothing to be worried about while starting.
I have written several articles before on growing apples, bonsai, oranges, and eggplants using hydroponics. So, don’t worry, bananas are no different. Growing any particular type of tree does come down to the same concept, which is dwarfing.
In this article, you will learn how hydroponics can boost yield production more than soil does. Moreover, you will know more about the ideal growing conditions along with the dwarfing method that has been used to accommodate large trees into hydroponic systems.
Hydroponics vs Soil For Banana Trees
For centuries, the soil has been the only method of growing plants, but currently, this is not the case. New methods like hydroponics and aquaponics have evolved.
There are a lot of key differences between using hydroponics or just using soil as a growing medium. When it comes to the maximum yield production per banana tree, it is clear that using hydroponic systems is the winner.
High Growth Rate Of Hydroponics
Hydroponics tend to provide a significantly higher growth rate and yield production; this is due to several reasons. Plants tend to develop a large root system as much as possible to reach more water and nutrient sources that are sufficient for growth.
On the other hand, when a plant is grown using hydroponics, everything that is required for growth like nutrients and water is present in the nutrient solution.
So, there is no need to develop a root system that is large in size. As a result, a tremendous amount of energy is being saved when using hydroponics; this energy is then being used to boost plant growth and maximize its yield.
How Do Banana Trees Grow
Banana trees are unique. Normal trees will take years to grow until they reach a size where they can be mature enough to produce fruits. After harvesting the fruits, the tree lives and undergoes the second growing cycle to produce another batch of harvest.
As I have said, banana trees are different from other trees. An average banana tree will take around 9 months for the fruits to reach the harvest stage. After that, the tree dies. Yes, you heard it right, the tree only grows for 1 cycle to produce fruits and then die.
So, does this mean that I have to grow a banana tree from the seed stage every cycle? Well, the answer is no. When the banana tree reaches the harvest stage, the mother plant dies. However, there are, what I like to call, other baby plants at the base of the banana tree.
These baby plants are then taken and transplanted to another hydroponic system to go through the full growing cycle of 9 months.
Of course, banana trees like many other trees, cannot be grown with their actual size using hydroponics. Simply, they will not fit in. As a result, dwarfing is done on the tree from an early stage to accommodate the banana tree inside the hydroponic system.
Dwarf Hydroponic Bananas
Dwarfing has many benefits to provide. If you are planning on growing hydroponic banana trees, then you must consider choosing a dwarf species to your list of priorities to do.
The Size Of A Hydroponic Banana Tree
The average height of a banana tree is 16 ft high. There is no way that you can fit a tree this high inside your house. Moreover, I can’t imagine how much nutrient solution will a 16 ft tree consumes every month. You will probably have to fill up the nutrient solution every day just to keep up with a steady rate of growth.
Lucky for us, there is a method that has been used for years which is dwarfing; This technique tends to decrease the banana tree size to reach around 8 ft high. As a result, your hydroponic bananas can be grown indoors easily and a significantly lower amount of nutrient solution will be used.
Dwarf Hydroponic Banana Tree Species
When the dwarfing process was first discovered, many growers have used it to create several dwarf species of different trees. Banana trees did undergo several dwarfing attempts. This has resulted in getting a wide variety of dwarf banana trees with different properties.
I have only selected the dwarf banana tree species that could be a good fit to grow in a hydroponic system easily.
The following are my top 3 species to grow:
I consider this species to be one of the most practical ones to grow in a hydroponic system, and this is due to its relatively small size. A Dwarf Cavendish can reach a height of 9 ft.
On the other hand, a Super Dwarf Cavendish can be as short as 4 ft. This makes it extremely easy to fit inside a house.
Ladyfinger is another great dwarf species. It can grow between 4 ft to 9 ft which is great. However, do not expect to get large fruit bananas from it as their size tends to be very small at the harvest stage.
Although these species tend to grow and reach around 8 ft, which is larger than the previous two, it has a strong resistance against the fungal disease called Panama.
The Growing Conditions For Hydroponic Bananas
Banana Trees Tend to thrive in certain growing conditions. These growing conditions are the same as when we were using soil except for the nutrient solution section which is a unique part of any hydroponic system.
Best Growing Medium For A Hydroponic Banana Tree
Your hydroponic banana tree will require huge support at the base of the plant. This support is provided using two things: the growing medium and the hydroponic system itself.
Let’s start by talking about the best hydroponic system for a banana tree. The most appropriate hydroponic system for a banana tree is either deep water culture of an ebb and flow system.
Both of the previously mentioned systems do provide huge support and root space for any tree to thrive in. Avoid using the nutrient film technique as it is the worst system for growing any tree.
The growing medium would be either perlite or clay pebbles. These two mediums allow for healthy root development along with providing sufficient support for the plant’s base.
The Optimum Temperature For A Hydroponic Banana Tree
Banana trees are tropical plants that require warm temperatures to grow in. They typically thrive in temperatures ranging from 70ºF to 80ºF.
There is a critical aspect to consider before starting to grow your hydroponic bananas which is the growing cycle for every tree. Certain crops like lettuce can get away as their growing cycle is just 45 days and can be grown in the summer only.
On the other hand, the growing cycle of every tree is around 9 months this means that to fully through the cycle, you will need to use a heating system to keep the temperatures warm enough.
The Nutrient Solution Of Hydroponic Bananas
The nutrient solution for the hydroponic bananas must have a pH of 5.5 to 6.5. Moreover, the ppm should be kept around 1260 to 1540.
You have to know two important facts about banana trees. The first one is that banana trees love water, and by this, I mean that they consume a humongous amount of water daily. The second fact is that their roots are highly susceptible to root rot.
So, you have to make sure every day that your nutrient solution is sufficient enough for the hydroponic bananas to live. Moreover, to avoid root rot, make sure to keep your nutrient solution at a certain level. I have written an article about the exact water level in deep water culture, check it out here.
Light Conditions for Hydroponic Bananas
A dwarf hydroponic tree will need 4 to 6 hours of light per day. You can go the extra mile and allow them to reach 8 hours under your artificial growing lights if you like.
But make sure to place the grow lights high enough because as the tree gets bigger, it will become difficult for certain leaves to receive light anymore.