Canadian Woman Grows Banana Trees in Her Backyard

banana tree

All plants (like people) have their preferred climate. In the wrong environment, many kinds of greenery would perish. In the case of fruit trees, they won’t even bear fruit. That’s why it’s important to research before investing time, energy, and money into tending to trees that won’t ever bloom.  

However, Lucie Hérard decidedly ignored that. Bananas are considered tropical fruit and are typically grown in Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America, and the like. That didn’t stop her from her goal of growing them in east-end Montreal, Canada. All-year-round. 

Growing Bananas Trees in Montreal 

Despite her dedication to the project, the results still amaze her.  

“My goodness, it’s like a miracle,” she said, viewing her backyard. 

It took about twelve years to transform her yard into what she calls her “tropical oasis.” It’s filled with plants people do not tend to see in her area. 

“I mean, it’s like I’m on vacation all summer,” she said. 

Hérard claims to have over one hundred plants in her oasis, including palm trees, castor bean trees, and even a Giant Thailand Colocasia with extremely wide leaves. 

Her dream had taken root in her 20s but she began the project a few years before she retired. She discussed the feat with experts and did research to determine how these species would survive the harsh winters in Montreal. 

“Musa basjoo,” she said. “It’s very important because it’s not any variety that can handle the cold.” 

Musa basjoo, also called hardy banana, is foliage that grows to the size of a small tree. It tends to die when cold weather arrives and grows again in the spring. [1] 

The yard contains other varieties as well. 

Advise For Planting Tropical Varieties in Cold Climates

Hérard advises anyone who wants to plant fruit trees is to set them where they’d be exposed to enough sunlight. Also, don’t leave saplings outside during the cold weather until they grow bigger and stronger. 

“Always wait until they are three years because the young plant is not good,” she said. 

At that age, they are usually strong enough to endure the winter. To increase their chances, cut the leaves in the autumn, and cover the plant with 10 inches of straw and a tarpaulin. The Musa basjoo withstood the cold for over ten years. However, all the other plants have to be trimmed, potted, and brought inside during the fall. 

“I know that it’s not easy,” she said. “They are like kids and you have to take care of them every day. You have to do the things like I’m saying.” 

That’s the extent of her tips though. After all, there’s a reason why her yard is one of a kind. 

“I will not tell you all my secrets,” she said.

The passion project has cost her about $20,000 since she started. There was a lot of trial and error involved.  

Impressive, But Not Unbelievable

Urban ecologist and Concordia University assistant professor Carly Ziter saw w Hérard’s oasis online. She’s impressed that anyone in Montreal would attempt this. However, she is not completely stunned. 

“There are an incredible number of species and varieties of these plants,” she said. “So trees that you’re growing in your yard in Montreal are probably a species that’s more adapted to a colder climate.” 

Ziter predicts that global warming will encourage more people to create similar gardens. 

“The growing season here will get a little bit longer, a little bit warmer. The winters will be a little bit shorter and a little bit more mild,” she said. [2] 

Read: Banana Peel Fertilizer + 8 More Banana Peel Uses In The Garden

How to Grow Banana Trees from Home 

Fun fact: Banana trees are not really trees. They are actually the world’s largest herb; after all, farmers prune them to the ground after bearing fruit. However, they’ve been given the misnomer of ‘trees’ because of the size. 

If you live in a cold climate, you can try cold-hardy banana trees (like Hérard’s), or grow them as a houseplant. (However, do not expect fruit from a banana tree houseplant.) 

Here are some basic growing tips

  • Wind: To prevent leaf damage, shelter the tree from the wind. 
  • Sun: Some varieties require full sun exposure, while some need partial shade. 
  • Soil: Use well-drained and organically amended soil. Slightly acidic soil (5.5 to 6.5 pH) is best. 
  • Water: The trees need plenty of water and moisture in the air. Planting the trees together in a cluster helps keep the air moist. Pour 1 or 2 inches of water of each tree every week. Frequently ensure the soil is moist (not soggy). Avoid over-watering; this can cause the roots to rot. 
  • Temperature: Although bananas do well in hot, humid environments, protect them from extreme temperatures whenever possible. Even the hardier varieties prefer consistency between 75- and 95-degrees Fahrenheit. Therefore, keep the plants in sheltered areas and bring them inside when the cold weather comes. 
  • Pruning: Before the fruits come, prune the tree so it only has one primary stem. After it is about 6–8 months old, leave one sucker behind to replace the main stem in the next season. After you harvest the fruit, trim the main stem to 2.5 feet and remove it a few weeks later, but keep the new sucker untouched. [3] 

It’s so inspiring to see what unique things people do with their gardens. Hopefully, this will inspire your own gardening goals. We could all use our own personal summer oasis. 

Keep Reading: Stop Buying Avocados: here’s how you can grow an avocado tree in a small pot at home

References: 

[1] Musa basjoo. Gardeners’ World.  

[2] “Montreal woman grows banana trees in her yard.” Phil Carpenter. Global News. September 7, 2020 

[3] “Banana Tree Plant Profile.” Vanessa Richins Myers. The Spruce. July 29, 2020 

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