Banana trees will need anywhere from 1.2-2.6 meters of water per year depending on the variety and soil type it is grown in. Banana trees that are not getting enough water will have smaller bunches of bananas, with less weight than those getting enough water.
Commercially grown bananas are usually given around 52 gallons (200 Liters) of water per plant per year. This is usually given through irrigation to keep the bananas producing their large crops.
Research shows that if the amount of water given to a banana plant is reduced to a quarter of this amount, 50 liters then they could reduce their crop yield by up to 37% (1). This shows the importance of giving banana plants consistent water, especially when they are producing fruit.
This means that each banana plants needs around 1-2 gallons of water per day to produce the maximum amount of fruit possible. For home gardeners this could be a challenge, especially if you live in a drought affected area with water restrictions.
Water your banana plant at home when the soil is dry below the top 2 inches. Deep water the plant every 2 days with 2-4 gallons of water over the summer. Reduce this amount to 1-2 gallons of water to week over winter when their growth slows.
How much water to give to banana plants
Banana plants should be watered deeply when they are first planted to encourage the roots to grow deep and stabilize the plant. Banana plants can be watered by irrigation, hose or even bucket if you only have 1-2 plants.
The easiest method is to water banana plants every second day if you are not getting any rainfall. Give them 2-4 gallons each with a hose, bucket, drip irrigation or sprinklers.
Watering banana plants in tropical climates
Living in a tropical or sub-tropical area when growing bananas is best as there is generally higher rainfall over the summer when bananas plants are growing at their fastest.
Cavendish bananas are the most popular eating banana and are grown and eaten across the world. Banana plants grow from a rhizome which will continue to grow new stems from the mother plant. Each stem is capable of growing 1 bunch of bananas before it dies back.
Trimming banana plants to keep 3-4 stems is a great way to save water and focus the plants energy on producing fruit from these mains stems.
How often to water banana trees
Banana trees will need water most days over the summer months. This could be either from rainfall, irrigation or from hand watering. Banana trees that are not getting enough water will develop drooping leaves.
A deep watering at the end of the day will help the plant to recover quickly and for the leaves to stand back up. If you are not getting regular rainfall over the summer, banana trees will need extra water from you to keep them growing strong.
Water banana trees with 1-2 gallons of water per day over summer to keep them happy. Banana trees grown in good soil that holds water well will need less water. Improve soil before planting bananas with organic matter like aged manure and compost to help keep the water around the roots for longer.
Surround banana trees with mulch to help to reduce the evaporation from the soil. Banana leaves themselves make good mulch as well as straw, hay or sugar cane.
How to water banana trees
Watering banana trees can be as simple as using your hose or by setting up an irrigation system. Here are three easy ways to water banana trees at home.
Sprinklers are an affective way to water banana trees. You can attach sprinklers to irrigation hose or simple attach one to the end of your regular hose. Place it around 3 feet away from the stem of the banana plant and turn the water on slowly.
Keep sprinklers flowing on low to avoid spraying water onto the banana leaves. Sprinklers can be left on for around 30 minutes to deep water the banana roots.
2. Drip irrigation
Drip irrigation is a simple way to water banana trees. Draping irrigation hose with drippers attached around the base of the banana tree will allow the roots to be watered without getting water on the stems or the leaves.
Turn drip irrigation on in the morning to allow the water to soak in before the sun appears.
Soaker hoses are also a great idea to allow water to get to the plant roots without losing too much to evaporation. While wind can blow sprinkler water around, drippers will deliver water close to the banana tree roots reducing water loss.
3. Buckets or watering cans
If you are growing 1-2 banana trees at home then it is easy to keep them watered and happy using buckets or watering cans. Give each banana tree 1-2 buckets of water every 1-2 days over the warmer months to keep it growing strong.
You can reduce your watering over winter when the weather cools to 1-2 buckets per week. Bananas will generally slow their growth over this time.
Banana plants can be watered with your hose with a sprayer attachment. Water at the base of the plant and avoid spraying the leaves. I like to use a sprayer attachment with as shower setting to water the roots thoroughly without washing away any soil.
How much water for indoor banana trees?
Indoor banana plants will generally need less water than those grown outdoors. They will loose less water to evaporation so around a gallon of water per week will be enough. You can take the plant outdoors to water it deeply and letting the water drain through.
After watering, return the plant to its pot tray to catch any drips but do not leave it sitting in water. Leaving the rhizome sitting in water could cause it to rot and the plant to die off.
What happen when banana trees do not get enough water?
Banana plants that are not getting enough water will produce less bananas than those that are getting regular water in the right amounts. The bananas can be up to 65% smaller (lower bunch weight) for those plants that are not getting enough water1.
How much water does a banana tree need? | Summary
Banana plants will need regular water over the warmer months to produce consistent and large fruit. Cavendish bananas are a popular home eating banana and will produce best when they get around a gallon or two of water per day over summer. If you live in a tropical area you can let the rain do most of the work for you. Remember to water indoor banana trees regularly too.
Niranjan Panigrahi, Andrew J. Thompson, Sergio Zubelzu, Jerry W. Knox, Identifying opportunities to improve management of water stress in banana production, Scientia Horticulturae, Volume 276, 2021, 109735, ISSN 0304-4238, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scienta.2020.109735. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S030442382030563X, accessed 29 April 2022.