Maybe bananas can bear fruit in UK?

Sat, Apr 18, 2009

Growing Bananas in UK

Read this amazing story published in the Independent last year :

A plant enthusiast has shaken the horticultural world after successfully growing dozens of bananas in a British domstic property for what is believed to be the first time, Mike Hilliard, 64 bought three musa japonica plants two years ago to provide shade at his energy-efficient home, Tranquility, in Stroud, Gloucestershire. 

Despite being told they would not bear fruit, Mike Hillard can now gaze up at 16ft (five metres) of growth bearing more than 70 bananas

But despite being told they would not bear fruit, Mr Hilliard can now gaze up at 16ft (five metres) of growth bearing more than 70 bananas. He  has grown plants since he was 11 and was surprised when the plants flowered and  stunned when they then produced four “hands” of fruit, each holding about 18 bananas.

He called the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) who said the news was so rare he “should get down on the prayer mat”. The RHS has told him is the only person in Britain known to grow bananas in the home.

The bananas bloomed in his hi-tech solar room, which stays between 10C and 16C above outside temperature all year, and is just warm enough for the east Asian crop to grow healthily.

Now Mr Hillard intends to fry them up in a tasty curry. He said: “This has all been done by the English sunshine in my solar room, which provides my house with an oxygen-rich atmosphere.

It has been called the most energy-efficient house in the world. I was surprised when they flowered because I was told, ‘Oh they’ll never grow fruit’. Now they are growing into a forest, and I’ve got seven babies. I asked the Royal Horticultural Society and they told me to get down on my prayer mat because they had been trying for years to get theirs to bear fruit. Mine have grown to four or five inches and they are edible.

“Perhaps there is a Lord somewhere who has done it too but I don’t know where he is. It looks like a giant beehive and the trunk is full of water. You would call it a palm. The leaves grow about 5.5m up, nearly touching the roof.”

Mr Hillard says he is “taking on” the scientific community’s findings about global warming, saying the problem is much more advanced than accepted wisdom suggests.

Leigh Hunt, the Royal Horticultural Society’s principal horticultural adviser, confirmed that Mr Hillard was probably the first British grower to achieve the feat in a house. He said: “This is likely because he was growing musa basjoo [the Japanese banana], a species that wasn’t grown very often in the UK until the fashion for tropical gardens came in.

“So while it has been perfectly possible to flower musa basjoo in tropical glasshouses, such as at Kew, but it has been unlikely for amateurs to grow it because they weren’t sold very often and gardeners had little interest in growing them because they required mollycoddling during the winter [they are not fully hardy].

“Unfortunately, the fruits that musa basjoo produce are unpalatable, mainly because they contain seed. Ripening may not happen as the low light levels of a British winter are not conducive for good growth. Commercial bananas don’t contain seeds because they are generally the seedless variety, dwarf Cavendish.”

Last month, Graham and Daphne Bath, from Hampshire, revealed that a banana tree they had been growing in their garden for the past nine years had borne fruit for the first time

This post was written by:

- who has written 872 posts on My Climate Change Garden.

I am not an experienced gardener - more of an enthusiastic amateur who learns by trial and error and who is keen to "manage" the effects of shifting weather patterns on my garden. Writing this blog is my passion and it has evolved over 12 years to inspire engagement with climate change outside our back doors, in our personal gardens and green spaces. My mission is to fertilise and expand this platform to grow a community of global gardeners communicating about the effects of climate change on our plants and exploring how each individual can make small changes in our lives to become more sustainable. The future of our gardens and #OurPlanet is in our hands - please plant your own seeds for our collective sustainable future.

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1 Comments For This Post

  1. Carol Harper Says:

    The five year old banana growing in my garden in Kent has fruited for the first time this year too.