Growing Plantains
April 28, 2009 7:04 AM   Subscribe

I want to grow my own plantain bush/palm/plant. In central Pennsylvania. Can I make it work? Have you made it work? Have you grown any kind of banana plant in a similar climate? If so: where would I get plantain rhizomes? The internet thinks I want Chinese herbs, when really I want a root to stick in the ground and grow. What else would I need to know (besides bringing the plant indoors in the winter)? A few more plantain questions after the jump.

1) What kind of a large pot is going to be the best? I'm assuming as large as possible but still small enough to be able to move inside in the winter.

2) I'm assuming the seeds from the plantains I buy at the store aren't viable and won't work. Should I give it a shot anyway?

3) Cooking plantains - my favorite style of plantains is maduro, not tostones. I can cook them to my liking but I'm wondering, how do Cuban restaurants get plantains so that they are still wet/juicy when they're served? Do they steam them or something? When I fry them, they are sweet and a little bit soft, but they don't sweat moisture like they do at some restaurants I've been to.

Any anecdotes or online resources you can point me to would be helpful.

Thanks so much.
posted by billysumday to Home & Garden (4 answers total)
This is very minimally helpful, but I live in Northern VA, and my neighbor has grown two banana plants in his yard (taking them in for winter) for years now (much to the chagrin of his wife). I think the container is just a large thick plastic pot, maybe 1' - 1' 6" in diameter. I'm almost positive is has never produced fruit though......
posted by hellogoodbye at 7:59 AM on April 28, 2009

First of all, plantain plants are very, very large. I'd be surprised that, if you found a pot large enough to hold the root system of a grown plant, you could move it without a forklift.

If you are serious about growing your own, your best bet would be to build a greenhouse and heat it during the winter. For rootstock, call some garden centers down in Florida.

Also, I think the "wet/juicy" that you describe is oil? That, or your plantains are not ripe enough when you're frying them.
posted by bengarland at 8:29 AM on April 28, 2009

I grew two banana trees in pots in New York as a kid. They got to about 6-8' tall before they became too unwieldy to bring indoors in the winter and consequently died. They never bore fruit.

Rhizomes can be purchased here.
posted by pombe at 10:13 AM on April 28, 2009

I don't know from plantains, but since you asked about any kind of banana plant in this climate - I live in western PA and have a potted dwarf banana plant. I ordered it from a nursery online - don't remember which one, but I can look through my emails if you're curious. It's too young to fruit yet, but seems to be reasonably happy so far growing in this climate. I got it last summer and it grew fine outdoors, and when I brought it in for the winter it weathered the indoors much better than my potted lime and lemon trees.

I just put it outside for the spring last week and I think it might be experiencing a bit of shock, so I'm hoping it will recover well. It seemed to overwinter okay, though.
posted by Stacey at 3:20 PM on April 28, 2009

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