Having any tree in a personal property raises the concern of how deep the roots could be.
One may be concerned regarding the depth of the tree roots and if they could encroach on any structure. Tree roots could also affect other plants, depriving them of crucial nutrients.
Often mistakenly referred to as a tree, the banana “tree” is, in reality, a large herb. Key parts of banana trees include suckers that climb upward from the main plant from the roots forming a clump, also known as a mat or stool.
The eldest sucker in a clump changes the key plant after it bears fruit and expires, qualifying the plant as a perennial.
However, for purposes of this post, we still refer to the banana plant as a banana “tree.”
Common Properties with Real Trees
With that said, the banana does have something in common with trees. Its root density and length are comparable to actual trees. Getting to know the root system of a banana plant allows for cultivating healthy ones with excellent production rates. (Learn How to Kill a Eucalyptus Tree)
Banana trees are distant relatives of ginger. They thrive in tropical climates with temperatures around 80-100 degrees Fahrenheit. Bananas grow under monthly rainfall averaging around 4 inches.
For non-tropical climate cultivation, it is recommended that one dig them up in autumn and replant in the spring. The extremes of drought and frigid weather is detrimental to the banana plant.
The Banana Tree Roots
The banana tree root system starts as a solitary rhizome that produces suckers. These become new plants to substitute the dying main plant after it bears fruits. The combination of the suckers, rhizome, along with fibrous roots, create a bundle of roots known as the mat.
How Deep Are Banana Tree Roots
Under thoroughly drained, loose soil conditions, the banana plant roots can reach up to 5 feet deep. As for the horizontal spread, the plant can reach up to 16 feet, some reaching 30ft. It is a fibrous root system with a capacity to suck in lots of water and nutrients.
The stool or mat stays near the soil surface. However, as mentioned earlier can reach up to 5 feet deep. Their ability to spread horizontally also means that they can be invasive and affect nearby plants by competing for nutrients.
They generally are about 16 feet tall. Some strains will grow to 23-25 feet, which explains why it needs a wide root system. The banana plant needs lots of nutrients, so rich soil and water are vital for its growth.
Propagating Banana Plants from Roots
Farmers of banana plants primarily utilize corms and suckers taken from the sword suckers to propagate new plants. There are two variants of suckers that form the root mat. One is sword suckers that have narrow leaves used for the propagation of new plants.
Water suckers, on the other hand, have broad leaves that are also used for propagation but are not as bountiful as narrow sword suckers. Another method is whole sword suckers with their rhizome are excavated and replanted.
Bigger and more robust sword suckers, called maidenheads, are removed of all stems and leaves. The rhizome or corm is used as seed pieces.
The Nutritional Needs of the Banana Root System
Like all roots, they are responsible for providing essential nutrients and hydration for a plant to flourish. The banana roots naturally produce lots of suckers that can deprive the main stem of nourishment. Banana plants are voracious and need rich soil and copious amounts of water.
If they are not pruned, many pseudostems emanate from suckers in the banana mat. The race for nutrients compromises its health and could even result in disease and issues with bearing fruit.
Banana Mat Pruning Technique
Since every pseudostem bears fruits just one time, one must have replacement plants to take the main plant post-harvest. Having several pseudostems (perhaps 3-5) in different growth phases guarantees the life of the mat without compromising plant health. Eliminating the remaining suckers avoids competition, resulting in a healthier plant.
To prune the mat correctly, obliterate unwanted suckers by digging them out. Using a shovel or a similar tool, one can also cut them off from the surface and destroy the underground bud. The bud has to be eliminated to prevent regrowth.
If the main stem has borne fruit and has been harvested, it is killed, and so a new pseudostem turns into the main stem.
Foundations and Banana Tree Roots Potential Damage
There is no need to fret over banana tree roots causing structural harm to the foundation of a house, cement walks, or underground waterworks. While true that the depth and spread of the banana root system may be considerable, it cannot inflict damage to your home or infrastructure, just like other tree species can.
The banana root is soft and pliable in quality compared to the hard, woody texture of many other tree roots varieties. (Learn How to Get Rid Of Rose Bushes)
Digging up A Banana Plant Properly
Now, if you need to dig up a banana plant for whatever reason, there is a proper way. One can indeed dig up a banana tree on their own. This, however, would depend on the size and expanse of the root system.
Since the banana plant has no woody stump or trunk to struggle with, one may dig the roots out with a sharp shovel after cutting the aboveground part using a saw. Be mindful that this is potentially a lot of work, especially if someone attempts the work alone.
The tree maturity is also an issue that could make things difficult. As such, one will have to excavate the entirety of the underground root system to guarantee no new growth. However, if the plant proves to be a well-spread one, its removal might be better left to professionals like landscape groups.
It is an option to excavate the plant during autumn and plant it again in spring. However, if the intention is to eradicate the plant, the only other option is to cut it down. For good measure, use herbicides or kerosene to eliminate any life in the root system.