How to Grow Bananas from Seed

Learn to sow and care for seedy varieties in this helpful guide

sliced banana

The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

Banana illustration

Illustration: The Spruce / Maritsa Patrinos

Bananas from the store seem to be seedless. Most of the Cavendish variety, commercial bananas have been modified to have three sets of genes, called a "triploid," instead of two, and typically produce no seeds. The Cavendish banana was named after the 7th Duke of Devonshire, William Cavendish. He received a specimen from Mauritius, and then, after cultivating it in England, it became an official cultivar in 1836 and eventually returned to its native tropical regions. Any little black dots inside these commercial bananas are immature seeds that will not develop into plantable seeds.

So how does a banana tree reproduce? Commercial banana plants are propagated by rhizomes. As a banana matures and produces fruit, the original plant--which is a actually an herb, not a tree--dies down to the ground, producing what are known as "banana pups." A maturing banana plant makes rhizomes. Those rhizomes become little plants (the pups) that can be taken off the mother plant and transplanted. However, some non-commercial banana varieties do have seeds. While they are rarely used for commercial production, it is possible to grow a banana plant from seed. Want to find out how to grow a banana plant in your backyard? Read on to learn how to grow banana trees from seed in this comprehensive guide. Navigate any regulations that your area might have around growing bananas, as they must be bought from a certified, government-approved place that offers disease-free seeds or rhizomes, and welcome large, lush leaves to your landscape. Who knows--you might even get some fruit if you live in the right climate!

banana tree
​The Spruce / Letícia Almeida

Do Bananas Have Seeds?

If presented with the opportunity to venture out into the wilderness and open a naturally grown banana, you would probably find seeds inside. Some varieties have seeds that are so big, they make up a lot of the fruit and make the flesh difficult to chew.

Can You Grow Bananas from Seeds?

So, yes, you can grow some bananas from seeds. Among the many banana cultivars, Musa acuminata and Musa balbisiana are two of the wild species that are especially seedy. They are parents of certain cultivated types. Travelers with the experience of tasting these fruits fresh and gardeners who have grown them in their backyards tend to prefer the flavor of wild bananas to those found in grocery stores.

Easier to propagate by rhizome

Native to tropical regions, bananas grow more often and with greater ease from a bulb or rhizome. There is mixed evidence as to whether bananas can be grown from seed, but some sources say it is possible.

How to Grow Bananas from Seeds

Here are 6 simple steps to follow when growing bananas from seed:

Soak

Give the seeds a headstart by soaking them in warm water for 24 to 48 hours. This will soften the seed coat. Once seeds are warmed and softened, their embryos can sprout quicker.

Prepare

Banana trees prefer sunny spots in the garden. While preparing the seeds, also prepare an outdoor bed. Or, if temperatures are too cold, prepare a seed tray or a small container with potting soil that has lots of organic compost. Best mixes for this plant have 60% sand or airy loam and 40% compost.

Sow

Sow seeds in a bed, tray, or pot 1/4 of an inch deep. Be sure to add more compost if the material does not have a proper amount. As the seed sprouts and matures, it will need the nutrients provided by the compost.

Water

Water so that the soil becomes moist. Take care not to drown the seed, only maintain conditions that are damp as the seed settles in and begins to germinate. Soil that is too wet can cause the seed to rot.

Pay attention to temperature

Use a heat mat on a timer to maintain a temperature of at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Even hardy bananas require such warm temperatures. Still, different varieties may behave in certain ways to changes in temperature. Some thrive on 19 hours of cool temperatures and 5 hours of warm temps.

Give it time

Be patient and do your research. Some banana varieties germinate in 2 to 3 weeks while others may take 2 or more months.

How Bananas Produce

The flowering stalk of a banana is called the "banana inflorescence." Emerging from the middle of the "pseudostem" 10 to 15 months after the seed has been sown, it will likely be surrounded by 26 to 32 leaves by then. The banana flowering, or "shooting," process is characterized by flowers appearing in spirals on the axis of the stalk in groups of 10 to 20. Fleshy bracts, purplish-to-greenish in color, eventually shed and give way to the first flowers that are functionally female.

Edible cultivars like the ones listed above have fast-growing ovaries that develop without pollination into clusters of fruits, some of which can produce seeds. The last flowers, functionally male, come next. When you plant rhizomes, the time from shooting to fruiting is typically 180 days depending on the cultivar, temperature, and the moisture of the soil. When grown from seeds, expect to wait 14 months or more.

Article Sources
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  1. Grant, Amy. “Germinating Banana Seeds: Can You Grow Bananas from Seed.” Gardeningknowhow.Com, 29 Jan. 2016, https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/fruits/banana/growing-bananas-from-seeds.htm.

  2. Williamson, Lauren. “How to Grow Bananas and Care for Banana Plants.” Com.Au, 26 Nov. 2020, https://www.bhg.com.au/banana-plants-how-to-grow-bananas.

  3. “HS10/MG040: Banana Growing in the Florida Home Landscape.” Ufl.Edu, https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/MG040. Accessed 5 Aug. 2021.

  4. Mehta, P. “Growing Bananas: How to Grow Banana Trees at Home.” Mykitchengarden.Info, 3 July 2014, https://www.mykitchengarden.info/2014/07/growing-banana-plant.html.