Where Are The Seeds in Bananas? And How Do They Grow Without Them?
Have you ever looked into a banana while eating it and wondered where the seeds are? Of course this naturally leads onto the next perplexing question (and the topic of today) – how do bananas grow without seeds?
Bananas do in fact have seeds – or at least they did. If you look hard enough, the bananas that we are accustomed to seeing in supermarkets do have miniature black seeds in the fruits, but they are infertile. The primary reason is that commercial banana farmers have continually propagated parts of the banana plant to continue their crops. As a result, banana plants have evolved over time to place less reliance on seeds, and are now the bananas we eat today.
Welcome to the Garden Bench Top, where today we’ll be exploring the fascinating world of bananas. We’ll look at how they continue to be grown in the modern world. As well as how you can grow bananas at home (from seeds) – yes bananas can still grow from seeds even though the ones we eat aren’t fertile.
So grab a coffee (or banana smoothie), because we’re about to dive in!
Do Bananas Have Seeds?
Yes – bananas do have seeds. But, as we established earlier, the bananas we consume only have small, infertile seeds that aren’t any use (besides a bit of roughage for your digestive system).
If you travel to south and south-east Asia, you will be able to find wild bananas in the tropical forests, growing in their native environments. And as you may have guessed, they are chock-full of seeds. Large ones in fact, and it would make for quite a different experience when eating a banana.
Here’s a picture of the inside of a wild banana vs a standard supermarket banana.
Check out this interesting video by the SciShow that explains the history of bananas, and how they have evolved to become the bananas we know today.
How do Bananas Grow Without Seeds?
So if today’s bananas don’t have seeds, how do we seemingly have an endless supply in our supermarkets (or according to the SciShow guys, a threatened species of Cavendish bananas)?
The banana producers of the world cultivate their crops via a method called vegetative propagation. So rather than growing plants from seeds, farmers grow new plants from the mother plant.
Banana plants grow through a system of underground stems called rhizomes, similar to bamboo and galangal. When they are mature, the banana plants will spawn shoots from the rhizomes, which will appear around the base of the current banana plant.
The farmers then harvest these shoots (along with the rhizome) and move them to another plot of land ready to cultivate new banana plants.
It isn’t hard to see why commercial banana farms have adopted this method. Vegetative propagation is a lot more efficient and saves time, when compared to growing new plants from seeds.
Can you Grow Bananas from Seeds – Beginner Guide
Okay, so now you know how commercial farmers grow seedless bananas. What about the banana plants you’ve seen in your friend’s gardens? Are they propagated from rhizomes?
The domestic banana trees could be small plants that have been grown from banana plantations. However, they could also be plants that have been raised from seed.
YES – it is still possible to grow banana plants from seed. Here’s a guide on how to cultivate bananas from seed.
STEP – Source Fertile Seeds
Make sure when you source your banana seeds, that they are from a reputable supplier. We’d also recommend doing a bit of preliminary research into the type of bananas that you want to grow. There are more varieties of bananas out there than just the regular Cavendish banana!
STEP – Prepare and Soak
We love to soak all our seeds before planting them into soil. It helps to stimulate the seeds’ germination process and softens the shell of the seed, making it easier for them to break free.
Soak your seeds for 48 hours before planting. We recommend soaking your banana seeds in warm water, making sure to keep warming up the water every now and again over the 48-hour period.
STEP – Sow Your Seeds
Using the right seeding medium is important for many reasons. We like to use a loamy soil that has plenty of drainage and aeration. Both elements are important to prevent the development of any diseases like fungal or bacterial growth.
Loamy soil generally has a high sand component, mixed in with a good amount of organic compost to provide the necessary nutrients to support the seedlings’ growth.
When sowing your banana seeds, plant them approximately one inch (2.5 centimeters) deep into the soil, and backfill the hole with soil, patting down gently to secure the seeds.
STEP – Provide a Healthy Watering
Once the seeds have been sown, water your seedlings with a good dose of distilled water. This is an opportune time to check that the soil has good drainage and any excess water is freely flowing from the drainage holes.
Moisture is one of the most important factors to help the banana seed to germinate. It is critical that the soil isn’t water-laden or soggy. As mentioned earlier, a constantly soggy soil will promote disease and rot, eventually killing your seed.
STEP – Maintain the Right Temperature
The other important element that you need to maintain when growing banana plants from seed is the temperature. For the seed to germinate, the soil temperature needs to be maintained at 60° Fahrenheit (15° Celsius).
If you don’t have a greenhouse or do not live in a warm climate, you may need to use a heating mat to maintain the right temperature. You can source heating mats for seedlings easily from Amazon or your local nursery.
What Next? Patience is Key
And there you have it, a complete guide to growing bananas from seed.
One thing to be aware of is that banana seeds can take a bit of time to germinate. Actually anywhere between 1-6 months. This is probably not the news you wanted to hear, but as we always say, good things take time.
The key is to wait patiently, and make sure you are checking the moisture levels and temperature of your soil.
In fact, a study by ProMusa found that only 68-75% of wild banana seeds will ever germinate, even if they are provided with ideal growing conditions.
Final Thoughts on How Do Bananas Grow Without Seeds
The common banana is a world staple that can be enjoyed as a garnish on top of cereal, blitzed up in smoothies or even fried in batter with some vanilla ice cream. You can even use bananas to help develop roots on rose cuttings!
We’ve learned that the bananas we eat today don’t have viable seeds, which has resulted from the methods of propagation that commercial farmers use to grow their crops.
You can still see seeds in wild bananas, but only in Southeast Asia