The top causes of banana plants drooping include a lack of water, transplant shock, root damage, old and finished leaves or stems and a lack of sunlight. Banana plants that are drooping due to a lack of water can recover quickly if they are deep watered at the end of the day. This is a natural response that helps the plant to conserve water.
This article will explore why banana plants droop as well as how to fix each problem and get your banana plant thriving again.
Banana plants grow from a rhizome under the soil and any stress to the plant due to water, light or damage can cause the leaves to droop. Here are the top causes of banana leaves drooping and what to do next.
1. Lack of water
A lack of water is the top cause of banana plants drooping. On hot, sunny days the plant will conserve water by drawing it back from their leaves to their main stems and rhizome.
Direct sun on the leaves paired with dry soil will cause the plant leaves to droop. Banana trees need large amounts of water over summer to sustain their growth and prevent their leaves from drooping.
If you live in a tropical area it is easier to keep banana trees happy with the summer rain. Most will need a top up water on top days. Give the plant 1-2 gallons of water in the morning when a hot day is predicted.
Banana trees grown in tropical and sub-tropical areas will be happy with 1-2 gallons of water every 1-2 days. This will enable the stems to grow to their maximum size and produce the flowers and fruit we all want.
If your banana plant leaves are drooping, wait until the weather cools later in the day and deep water it. By the next morning the leaves will stand back up.
2. Transplant shock
Transplant shock can cause banana plants to droop. Damage to the roots when moving young or mature trees can stop the plant from absorbing the water it needs. The leaves can droop rapidly within the next day of moving.
Damage to the roots can also make them more susceptible to root rot, a fungal growth that affects the roots and stops them from establishing and absorbing the nutrients the plant needs.
Pests will also take the opportunity to attack damaged plants and can cause damage to the leaves. Sap sucking insects such as aphids or mites can move in and suck sap from the leaf veins. This will cause leaves to curl in and droop.
Take care when moving mature and young banana plants. Any damage to the roots can set the plant back. Prepare the hole or pot before removing the plant to make sure that it can be moved quickly and with minimal damage. Take care not to cut back or tear healthy roots. This can allow an entry point for mold, fungus and bacteria.
3. Old leaves
Old banana leaves will droop, turn yellow and then brown. This is a natural process that happens with banana plants that allows old leaves to be replaced with new ones. This usually happens from the base of the stem upwards.
Old leaves that are further down the stem, closer to the ground will droop and can tear in high winds. You can prune the leaf off as soon as it droops or wait for it to dry and die back.
I like to wait until it dries as it makes it easier to cut off without getting sap all over my secateurs and myself. The plant can also reabsorb the moisture and nutrients left in the leaves.
4. Finished stems
Banana stems that have grown long, large and have produced a banana bunch will die back. The leaves will droop first and eventually the whole stem will turn yellow and then brown.
Once fruit has been harvested then the stems can be removed. Banana stems only produce one bunch of bananas each.
You can also allow the stem to die back naturally before removing it. The rhizome will reabsorb the nutrients and water giving it the energy to grow stems to produce more fruit.
5. Lack of sunlight
Banana plants that are not getting enough sunlight will droop and slow their growth. This is common for indoor banana plants that are not placed in a position that gets morning an afternoon light.
Banana plants need a full day of sun to grow at their best, have large, healthy leaves and to prevent their leaves drooping. Banana leaves that are drooping due to a lack of sunlight will often turn yellow.
Indoor banana plants can be moved outside during the spring and fall to give them more light and help their leaves to stand back up straight. Take care when moving them straight out into the summer sun if they have been indoors. They can quickly burn and the leaves can turn brown on the edges.
6. Heavy stems
Heavy banana stems can droop, bend and even break as the stem gets larger. Heavy bunches of bananas can pull the stem over, causing the roots to break.
This is quite common for large banana plants in shallow soil. To prevent this happening, keep your plant to 3-4 main stems, grow it in good quality soil and water it well. Large stems may need support as they grow. Prop them up with large posts or straps to keep the stems from falling onto the soil.
Why is My Banana Plant Drooping? | Summary
Banana plants can droop if they are not given the water, sunlight or nutrients they need. Root damage and a lack of water are the main causes of the leaves or stems drooping. Banana plants can be quickly repaired by giving them the water they need, growing them in 8 hours of sunlight and supporting the heavy stems when they are carrying large bunches of fruit.
For more on growing bananas, check out this video.
Banana plants are fun to grow at home if you have kids. They need plenty of water over summer but can reward you with 200 or more bananas each year.
I am an accredited practicing dietitian, experienced gardener and a dedicated cook. I love writing and sharing my experience so you can learn from my successes and mistakes.