Aquaponic Bananas

Don’t they say it takes 14 months to get fruit from a banana? Well apparently my Aquaponics system and my banana plant didn’t read that book.

Aquaponic banana Planted May 6

Aquaponic banana Planted May 6

I was lately going through my pictures from this past year and discovered that I didn’t even set up the grow bed with the big banana in it till May! This is the banana that was Flowering in September and we finally cut the Fruit bunch off the end of November.

Removed Banana bunch

Removed Banana bunch

Banana bunch

Banana bunch

The unfortunate thing about bananas in Aquaponics is that the force of the root mass pushing out with the assistance of gravel is very strong and may be able to damage a grow bed. The power of plant roots can be rather amazing, especially in perennial plants. There are vines and trees that knock down buildings, crack foundations, topple walls so it should not come as a shock that a banana plant growing in aquaponics could crack a plastic tub. Luckily the crack is up near the top so after removing the banana I was able to seal it up with aquarium silicone on the inside of the grow bed. I should be able to re-fill and re-plant this grow bed without much issue. However, we have decided that stock tanks and straight sided grow beds are probably not appropriate for large banana plants since aquaponics seems to super charge them.

Crack

Crack

Banana root mass

Banana root mass


We do still have several bananas growing in half barrel (cut the long ways) like grow beds as we will see how those do long term. The problem isn’t just with the possible cracking of the grow beds but also the extreme amount of roots the banana puts out clogging the beds.

7 comments to Aquaponic Bananas

  • Hi TCLynx,

    How tall did that banana plant get? It looks like it got up to 15′ or so! And what variety was it? What it a full-size Cavendish, or was it a Dwarf Cavendish, or something else entirely?

    The reason I’m asking is because I’m going to plant a Dwarf Cavendish in my high tunnel aquaponics system. They’re only supposed to get 4-6′ tall, but I’m worried it’ll go way beyond that in my AP setup (apex of roof is only 7′). I’m going to build a much larger high tunnel in the near future, but I impatiently want to plant bananas now 😉 so I’m trying to figure out if any of the edible varieties can remain sufficiently short in an AP system.

    Best,
    GreenFin

    • TCLynx

      I think it was a dwarf type of banana that was supposed to get to 4′ tall (vague memory of the catalog description) but they didn’t give a variety. And apparently the banana didn’t read the description.

      I would guess the stalk was 5-6 feet tall (above the surface of the grow bed) and the leaves give you another 6 feet or so.

      Go ahead and try it, worst thing that can happen, it grows to tall and you have to chop it back but you will still have the plant to divide and make more pups to replant for when you get the bigger high tunnel.

      Well maybe not the worst thing, that banana did start to crack that stock tank a little bit.

  • It’s good news that the stalk only got to 5-6 feet. The leaves could probably be folded or trimmed somewhat to fit my tunnel (for a while at least), whereas a plant with a 10-foot stalk would have been a nonstarter. I’m gonna go for it 🙂

  • Dave

    I love bananas. This seems like a great way to at least start a banana tree. After it starts to get big can you transfer it to soil and continue to water the soil using water from the fish tank.

  • Oreste Ona.

    How to plant a plantain banana in a small tank the aquaponic way?

    Can I use this solution?: in 5 gallon tea compost? compost tea made:
    2 cups of good finished compost
    1 tablespoon unsulfured blackstrap molasses.
    1 teaspoon organic fish fertilizer
    1 tablespoon organic liquid kelp fertilizer.
    Rock dust on top.

    Thanks for your attention.

    • TCLynx

      I don’t know if compost tea will provide enough nitrogen for growing a banana or plantain.
      Are you talking about growing it in a 5 gallon container? If so, that is not a big enough container to grow a banana plant. Mine was in a 100 gallon tank.
      Or do you mean that you intend 5 gallons of compost tea to be all the fertilizer you need for the plant?
      I don’t really understand what you are asking me.

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