See Gardener Eric George and His Amazing W. Sacramento-Grown Banana Trees at 7th Annual Banana Festival!
All the Gardening Gurus will tell you, “Bananas don’t grow in Sacramento.” But we found someone who IS growing bananas in West Sacramento… and has been growing them for the past 15 years!
West Sacramento gardener Eric George, who tends two large gardens full of vegetables and flowers, has developed a knack for cultivating banana trees, and they’re not just the ornamental kind. He grows two varieties–one that yields plantain-sized bananas, and another that yields full-sized fruit, but about an inch shorter than those you find at your local grocery store. George doesn’t know why the conventional wisdom says you can’t grow bananas in Sacramento–he only knows the results he–and scores of happy customers–have had!
Since he started growing the banana trees some 15 years ago, George has sold more than 200 trees to customers from the Sierra foothills to as far south as Watsonville and Santa Cruz. Each tree comes with a money-back guarantee if it doesn’t bear fruit. In 15 years he’s never had to give anyone’s money back!
Although bananas can be grown in containers, George says he has his best luck planting them directly into the ground. One 3-year-old tree he has now is about 12 feet tall; another 16 feet tall. To overwinter the trees, George tops them, or removes the foliage, then, during freezing weather only, covers them with burlap. Once the freeze is past, he removes the covering to allow the trees to breathe.
Typically George’s trees produce fruit in August, but he has one customer who’s been harvesting bananas for the past couple of months. The mature trees produce offspring, which appear like suckers beside the mother tree. Once these sprouts are about 2 feet tall, they can be separated from the mother plant using a flat-nosed shovel, inserted straight down so as to minimize damage to either plant’s roots, then working the baby tree away from the mother.
You can talk gardening with George and learn more about cultivating banana trees locally at the 7th Annual Banana Festival, where he’ll have trees he has grown and the bananas they produce on display. Don’t forget to bring your green thumbs with you!