Bananas are one of the most well known and widely used fruits in the world. However, in many countries, even with warm climates, very few people will have a banana tree growing and fruiting in their backyard. Why is this, when so many other less well known fruits are commonly grown by home garden enthusiastes? It all comes down to the seeds and how Bananas reproduce and propagate. So first, let’s answer the question: Do Bananas Have Seeds?
There are no seeds that will reproduce in commercial bananas such as the Cavendish. Any small seeds that may be seen are vestigial seeds which will not grow. Wild varieties of bananas have many seeds and are known as Diploid because they have two genes and will reproduce fruit from there seeds.
Many years of cross breeding different varieties have made the commercially grown banana pretty much seedless with more edible fruit than the wild varieties which tend to have larger and a greater number of seeds with less edible pulp.
Technically, these commercially grown bananas are called Triploid because they have three genes, rather than the two genes or Diploid of the wild reproduceable variety of banana.
However, don’t get the wrong idea, commercial bananas are not genetically modified in any way, they are still natural, just that over many years of cross breeding they have the seedless traits we see today. That raises the question, So Can You Grow Bananas From Seeds? We will answer that question along with the following questions, so please read on.
- Where Are The Seeds Of A Banana?
- What Do Banana Seeds Look Like?
- How Many Seeds Does a Banana Have?
- How To Collect Banana Seeds?
- How To Grow Bananas From Seeds?
- How Are Bananas Made Without Seeds?
- Can You Grow A Banana Tree From A Banana?
- How Do Bananas Reproduce?
So lets dive in and answer all of these questions with videos for your ease of understanding. Please read on.
Where Are The Seeds Of A Banana?
The seeds in a banana are contained in the edible pulp. The commercial varieties have very small seeds that are sterile and will not grow into banana plants.
Take a look at the video below to see how to find and locate the banana seeds.
What Do Banana Seeds Look Like?
Banana seeds in the commercial varieties are very small and black. They are 0.5mm in diameter and will not grow into banana plants. However, the wild natural varieties have large black seeds that are 6mm in diameter and in some cases occupy more space than the edible pulp.
As you can see from the picture above the wild bananas have more and larger black seeds whereas the commercial varieties have very small and almost non existent seeds. If you happen to be very fortunate to find a wild banana then you can grow them from the seeds.
You might also find the taste very different as some of the wild varieties are not as sweet as the commercial varieties.
You might also be interested to check out the article: Are Bananas Man Made or Natural? You will find out some very interesting facts about commercial bananas.
How Many Seeds Does a Banana Have?
The commercial bananas such as the cavendish have no seeds that can be fertilized and grown, whereas the Saba banana will have on average 5 to 7 seeds. Some wild varieties of bananas can have hundreds and one was discovered having a thousand seeds.
The red and yellow varieties tend to have the most seeds. However, on average wild bananas will have 20-30 seeds per fruit and commercial bananas will have 9 seeds per bunch. That’s a big difference in seed numbers between wild and commercial varieties.
How To Collect Banana Seeds?
If you have a wild banana variety such as the Musa acuminata or Musa balbisiana then you should be able to collect the seeds from the ripe fruit. Just peel away the skin to reveal the pulp and remove any visible seeds.
Once you have collected a few seeds, wash them with water (avoid chlorinated water as this may kill the seed). Place the seeds into some fresh water and allow them to soak for two weeks.
After two weeks, discard the water and the seeds that you have can now be used to propagate and grow new banana plants.
Can You Grow Bananas From Seeds?
You can grow wild bananas from seeds but you cannot grow commercial bananas from seeds. Some wild varieties that can be grown from seeds include the Musa balbisiana and Musa acuminata. These are two of the hundreds of wild banana varieties.
However, today most banana plants are grown from a bulb called a rhizome. This includes the commercial varieties such as the cavendish. Bulbs can be taken from one plant and transplanted to grow into a separate plant. These separate plants will also produce bulbs or ‘pups’ that can once again be transplanted.
Banana plant pups are actually offshoots or suckers, that sprout and grow from the base or bottom of the banana plant. You can propagate new banana plants from these pups or suckers.
A banana sucker is a small shoot from the base of a banana plant. A banana rhizome or corm is the base from which the suckers grow. Tissue cultures are genetically produced in laboratories to create a higher fruit yield.
A rhizome or corm that does not have any notable suckers may be cut up into pieces. Each piece with a bud will grow into a banana plant, however this takes longer than using a sucker.
How To Grow Bananas From Seeds?
Most bananas are grown from rhizome or bulb, however wild bananas can also be grown from seed. The main varieties with a lot of seeds are the Musa acuminata and Musa balbisiana. Those with a higher proportion of Musa acuminata produce sweet fruit, whereas those with a higher proportion of Musa balbisiana produce starchy fruit.
Soak The Seeds
Soaking the seeds in warm water for 24 to 48 hours will give them a good headstart. Make sure the water contains no chlorine. Soaking will soften the seed coat, allowing their embryos to sprout quicker.
Prepare The Seeds
Banana trees grow best in direct sunlight. If the outside temperatures are too cold, its best to prepare a seed tray or even a small container that has some potting soil and lots of compost. Best soil mixes for the banana plant should have 60% sand and 40% compost.
Sow The Seeds
Sow your soaked seeds in a prepared garden bed, tray, or pot. Make sure the seeds are sown about 1/4 of an inch deep, ensuring there is also plenty of compost. The nutrients that are provided by the organic compost will be needed as the seed sprouts and matures.
Do not overwater your seeds as they will rot. Water so that the soil only becomes moist and damp.
Be sure to maintain a temperature of at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit (16 degrees Celsius). Plant growth will slow at temperatures below 60 degrees Fahrenheit and will stop at temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Shoot growth is best between 78 degrees Fahrenheit to 82 degrees Fahrenheit (26 to 28 degrees Celsius), and fruit growth between 84 degrees Fahrenheit to 86 degrees Fahrenheit (28 to 30 degrees Celsius).
Its important to be patient and make sure you understand how long your variety will take to germinate as some banana varieties germinate in 2 to 3 weeks while others may take 2 or more months.
How Are Bananas Made Without Seeds?
Bananas are grown from a rhizome or bulb that is an offshoot of a banana plant. They are commonly called suckers, and this is the way that the commercial seedless varieties are propagated.
When the banana plant is about 7months to 12 months old, it will produce a purple flower that will start opening in a few days revealing tiny bunches of bananas. Within 3 to 5 months the banana fruit bunches will be ready for harvesting. Its best to harvest them before they fully ripen as they will split if allowed to ripen on the tree.
Watch the video below for the full development of the Banana as we know it today.
Can You Grow a Banana Tree From a Banana?
You can grow a banana tree from a banana if the banana has fertile seeds such as the wild varieties of Musa acuminata and Musa balbisiana.
You cannot grow a banana tree from a commercial banana that you buy in your local store such as the Cavendish variety. They have no seeds or sterile seeds. These varieties are grown from bulbs or shoots from a mature banana plant.
Bananas dont actually grow on trees as you might have thought. To find out why please read the article: Do Bananas Grow on Trees?
How Do Bananas Reproduce?
Seedless varieties of bananas are grown from bulbs also known as pups or shoots.
These pups can be separated from the adult plant once they are three to four feet tall. Once separated, the pups can be planted and they will continue to grow into mature banana plants that will eventually produce fruit.
This method is a faster and more reliable way of growing bananas rather than growing from seed. However, since each pup is a clone of the mature plant it came from, it leaves bananas more vulnerable to diseases, since there isn’t the genetic diversity available. Because of this it takes much longer for the species to develop disease resistances.
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