Potted Plants and TCs

Welcome to my detailed instructions on how to plant your new potted plant or “plug”. Congratulations on your new Musa! If you purchased the plant from me “Thank You” if not, I am still happy to help you! And as always feel free to email me with any questions.

First let me explain a few things about bananas and how they are propagated. There is “pups” that are physically cut off the mother plant. These are usually more expensive and cost quite a bit to ship! Usually it costs $10+ for 1 pup via USPS Priority Mail. So there is a few other options I will explain below:

  • Tissue Culture or “TC” is a method where only a tiny piece of a mother plant is cut out. This piece is the growth point of the banana. It will be called a “Shoot Tip explant” from this one tiny piece of material many many hundreds and even thousands of tiny plants are made in test tubes/clear jars in a completely artificial and sterile environment! These are sold by wholesalers by the “tray” each tray or flat as 72 tiny plants or “plugs”. Some online nurseries ship them as a plug to save costs. A plug is about 1”x1”. These are usually the $10-$15 ones you see online. When I buy them from a wholesaler, I pot them into 4” pots. That way they will have a much larger root system and better chance for success. I will sometimes order trays for my farm and sell extras I don’t intend to use. I also do small scale tissue culture myself. Only on a hobby level for personal use. It is quite time consuming and requires very expensive equipment and facilities to do it correctly without losses.
  • Ex-Vivo Propagation is what I prefer. The method I created requires no soil, no chemicals, and no growth hormones! It is all natural and creates a plant larger than a TC  but smaller than a pup. The corms on them are larger than TC plants allowing faster growth and a greater chance of success. Since it is mostly for research/experimental purposes, I do not usually have a large selection for sale.

I will give you step my step instructions below! But first some big No-Nos and the major reason banana plants die!

Banana Tissue Culture planting directions. This is a small tissue culture plantlet not a corm. They are fragile and need care to strengthen them up. I package these to protect the pstem and new growth. The current leaves will almost always get damaged and not look great. What’s important is the inside roller/new leaf. It’s the new growth. The outer layers are basically for support and protection. All growth is from the middle.

  1. Bananas need lots of water. True!! When full grown! These small plants and even corms do not. Bananas like the soil well drained and lightly moist. Not wet! Overwatering is the #1 reason banana plants die. If you are unsure, water less and mist the leaves.
  2. These plants have been under 50% or less sun. Do Not put them in full sun! As they get larger. Maybe 2’ tall you can slowly introduce more sun. Do it in steps try to find a location with about 50% sun. Not full sun 50% of the day! You want 50% of the suns rays to be blocked/filtered. Like under a porch or tree. Leave it in the 50% for a week or more. Then after that week move to 75% sun for a week then you can finally move to 100% full sun. Be careful! Scorching all the leaves will set you back a month or more and could even kill the plant. 
  3. Do not fertilize until the plant is larger! I personally don’t add any fertilizer until they are in the ground. They have plenty nutrients in the potting soil to last them 6months.

Now here is a simple step by step set of instructions that will guarantee you a good healthy plant! I am a known Musa expert! If you have any trouble or any questions just message me or email me on the contact page.

Here is the way I personally grow mine and I highly recommend following these instructions.

  1. Take great care unboxing the plant! Cut tape as you run into it. Be gentile! Cut beside the tape on each side and the plant should lift out! Next cut around the top of the pot and remove the dome lid if it was shipped with one. Next cut the tape around the pot to remove the plastic bag and brown paper towel around the plant and pot. 
  2. The plant needs to be warm. Keep it somewhere between the range of 60f-90f 85f is the perfect temp! Do not expose this young plant to temps under 55F. It will greatly slow growth and could cause major problems like dormancy! 
  3. Replant the plant ASAP when you receive it! First get your new pot ready. It is better to transplant in steps, so don’t put it directly into a huge pot! Take steps. First make the mix: I recommend a premium mix like burpee seed starter or a cactus blend. It needs to be very very well draining. Simply mix that with 30-50% sifted perlite (no dust)! Perlite is amazing and is all natural. Bananas love it! It leaves the mix very light, fluffy, and well draining. Banana plants roots and corms love perlite! You can find a large bag of it at Home Depot. 
  4. Next while gently holding the plant between your fingers turn it upside down and tap the bottom a few times. The pot should slide off the plant. Have your new pot and soil ready. Try not to disturb the rootball at all!! Now repot it close to the same level as it was before. 
  5. Water! The most important part! Water it in good. After watering DO NOT water again for 7 days! Since the plant will not be in full sun it will not dry up too fast. Usually once per week is enough. In mid summer, maybe once per 5 days. DO NOT OVERWATER!! a little dry is better than a little wet.
  6. Next set the newly potted plant into shade. Bananas love sun but not when young. It has been growing under 50%-70% shade cloth! So keep it shaded until it gets a little larger. When you do move them to more sun do it gradually. Slow. Small. Steps. Wait a full week to let the plant acclimate to the new sun levels before moving to more sun.
  7. Finally the fun part! Planting into the ground. Once the plant is large and strong enough. Usually at least 2’ tall and been in its pot awhile. You want it slightly rootbound. Dig a hole 2x as wide and as deep as the pot! There are many ways to plant. If you are in clay, fill the bottom half of the hole with coarse sand especially under the rootball. If your native soil is sand fill the bottom half with topsoil. Carefully remove the plant from the pot. Take great care not to break up the rootball! It also helps if the dirt is on the dry side. Even cut the pot if it’s needed to keep the root ball in tact. If you break the root ball it will set the plant back several weeks!! After the plant is in the hole backfill with composted leaves/leaf fungus/old rotten leaves or composted manure and topsoil 50/50 mixed. Make sure the plant ends up within a inch or so of its planting depth in the pot. Water the plant in and wait 7 days before watering again. 3-4 weeks later apply mulch. And remember 90% of banana plant roots are in the top 1’ of soil! 

As long as the root ball wasn’t broken you should see no transplant shock. After a few weeks you can begin fertilizing and watering normally. Thank you for your purchase and always remember I am here to help if you have any questions or need anything at all!