The healthy growth of a banana tree’s root system is vital to the plant’s ability to yield fruit and the future production of new banana trees.
The depth of the banana tree root system depends on a number of conditions, but in its natural environment, the roots will typically extend as far as 5 feet below ground level.
Table of Contents
- Are Banana Plants Shallow-Rooted?
- Purpose of Banana Tree Roots
- How Far Can Banana Roots Spread?
- Are Banana Roots Invasive?
- What Affects Banana Tree Root Growth?
- How Does Banana Tree Root Growth Impact Fruit Production?
Are Banana Plants Shallow-Rooted?
Banana plants produce dense mats of roots which are typically wide-spreading and shallow, though this is not always the case. In ideal soil conditions, the roots of a banana plant can reach depths of up to 5 feet, but the spread of the roots is heavily affected by the type of soil the plant is growing in.
This means in soil conditions that are not considered ideal for the banana plant, the root growth will be stunted and they will remain closer to the surface.
Purpose of Banana Tree Roots
The root system of the banana tree is important to continue the life cycle of the banana plant. A single banana plant can only produce fruit once in its lifetime, and after fruiting, it will die back. It is the responsibility of the root system to produce new suckers, which form the beginnings of entirely new banana plants.
The smaller, weaker suckers can be removed in favor of the healthier, larger suckers. Attempting to allow all of the suckers to succeed will cause them to compete for moisture, nutrition, and space, and the result will be a selection of smaller banana plants, rather than a few big, strong banana plants.
Acquire moisture and nutrients
Like most plants, one of the main responsibilities of the root system on a banana tree is to seek out moisture and nutrients. A generous amount of moisture and nutrients is essential for the proper growth of this plant. It is a heavy feeder which needs to be grown in nutrient-dense soil which is rich in organic matter.
The soil should be kept consistently moist but not wet so that the roots have plenty of access to enough water. Banana plants should be fed with a balanced fertilizer frequently throughout the spring and summer seasons so that their appetite for nutrients can be met. If you have several suckers growing from the roots of the banana plant, these will compete for nutrition, so plentiful fertilizer applications are essential.
The roots of a banana tree anchor the plant in the soil so that it is stable and held upright. As banana trees grow rapidly to a considerable size of between 10 and 40 feet, their roots need to be strong enough to support them. Banana roots spread around 16 feet horizontally out from the plant, which helps with anchorage.
How Far Can Banana Roots Spread?
Banana roots can spread out up to 16 feet laterally. This helps to anchor the plant because banana trees can grow to considerable heights.
Are Banana Roots Invasive?
Banana plant roots grow vigorously, and sometimes this can be mistaken for an invasive root system. The root system will quickly grow to match the growth rate of the stems and leaves above ground, which means the roots can fill a container very fast and become rootbound, or the roots will develop quickly to fill up a space in the garden soil.
However, banana roots are not invasive. They are not persistent enough to cause damage below ground, and they can be trimmed if you want to maintain a smaller banana plant.
What Affects Banana Tree Root Growth?
The growth pattern of a banana plant’s roots will adapt depending on the conditions it is grown in. Here we look at conditions that provide optimum growth opportunities, as well as conditions that will cause the root system to struggle.
The texture of the soil a banana plant is growing in is one of the main things that impact the root’s ability to form properly. When soil is heavy and dense, for example, if it has a large proportion of clay or sand, then the banana plant roots respond with stunted growth.
Banana plants grown in soils that are dense or heavily compacted will have weak root systems, and thin roots with a much lower weight than healthy banana roots. For optimum growth, the soil texture needs to be light and loamy, which will allow roots to grow strong and thick.
The depth of the soil is another important factor in growing healthy banana root systems. The soil should be deep, with no considerable obstructions, so that the banana plant can send roots down for at least several feet in depth.
When soils are shallow, or they have large rocks underneath the top layer of soil, this will impede the ability of the roots to spread properly. The result is short roots and a shallow root system that is not able to properly anchor the plant, or provide adequate nutrition.
Good drainage is essential for banana plants because while they like to have access to plenty of moisture, the roots are vulnerable to rot when kept in soggy or waterlogged soils. If the soil is well-draining, then any excess water that the plant does not need will drain away, rather than being held close to the roots.
If a banana plant is grown in soil which does not drain well, the roots will not develop properly. In the short term, you can expect roots to be weak and short. In the longer term, there will be an abundance of dead, rotten roots, and the plant may eventually succumb to root rot and die.
Excessive rainfall contributes to the poor growth of a banana plant root system, with flooding and waterlogged soils being among the top reasons why these plants do not thrive.
Help your banana plant to cope with excessive rainfall by ensuring the soil is well draining, or plant it on higher ground in the garden so that it is not subjected to standing water in the event of flooding. Too much water will result in weak, short roots, and a mass of dead, rotten roots.
Banana plants are heavy feeders, so nutrient-dense soil and plenty of fertilizer applications are essential for the proper development of this plant. The roots in particular sustain excellent growth when there are adequate amounts of calcium in the soil, since this nutrient is responsible for improved root production. Another nutrient that is essential for the healthy growth of banana plant roots is phosphorus. Use a well-balanced fertilizer that contains high levels of the main three nutrients; nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, as well as a wide array of micronutrients for best growth.
How Does Banana Tree Root Growth Impact Fruit Production?
A healthy and strong root system in a banana plant directly correlates with the amount of fruit it yields and the quality and size of the yield. When the roots of the plant are plentiful, thick, and long, the plant is better placed to produce a good yield of banana fruits.
It is for this reason that much research has been performed on how to improve the root systems of banana plants, and the ideal soil conditions to help root systems thrive so that commercial banana plants produce larger yields and superior fruits.