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Why are My Banana Plant Leaves Turning Yellow and Brown?

There’s hardly anything more satisfying than growing your own fruits and eating them, knowing that they came as a result of your own labor and care for the plant.

One of the most popular fruits to grow in your own household is certainly the banana.

Banana trees will not only provide healthy and delicious treats but also add to the visual appeal of your garden or yard with their eye-catching tropical foliage.

However, if you don’t provide your banana with proper care, this gorgeous foliage may suffer and you may notice its trees turning yellow or brown.

In some cases, this happens naturally and is no reason for concern. Still, it may also be a sign of more serious underlying issues.

If you’ve been wondering why are my banana plant leaves turning yellow and brown, keep reading to find out the reasons and how to deal with them.

Why are My Banana Plant Leaves Turning Yellow and Brown?

If you notice that your banana plant leaves are turning yellow and brown, the most important thing is to identify the reason why is it happening.

The best case scenario is that it’s a part of the natural shedding process and, in that case, you have nothing to worry about.

However, it may signal issues with improper watering, lack of nutrients, too little or too much sunlight, or a transplant shock.

Fortunately, most of these issues can be dealt with rather easily and are not much of a problem.

Nevertheless, some are more serious and there’s no surefire cure, so it’s best to work on preventing them and properly caring for your banana plant.

Below is a brief rundown of the most common causes of banana plant leaves turning yellow and brown and a few tips on what to do in those cases.

Natural Shedding

Banana trees grow from the center stem and get taller and taller as they grow older.

As this happens, the leaves will start to turn yellow and you may notice brown discoloration around the edges.

This will occur before the leaves eventually split and drop off the tree.

Commonly, a banana tree, or its stem rather, will die after fruiting, allowing new pups to take place.

Leaves turning yellow are the first sign that this is happening.

This is perfectly natural, as the death of the old leaves creates space for the new ones to grow.

You may speed this process up by trimming the old leaves as they start to turn yellow or brown, but it’s not necessary.

What you can do is cut down the main banana stem after fruiting, and make a mulch of it to use for the young and developing trees.

Improper Watering

If a banana hasn’t fruited recently, but the leaves are still turning yellow and brown, then the reason probably lies elsewhere.

Next on the list of probable causes is improper watering. Regular and proper watering is the key to keeping your banana healthy and thriving.

Too much or too little water can both be damaging and cause the leaves to change their color and turn yellow and brown.

Overwatering

If you’re overwatering your banana the likely symptoms will include leaves turning yellow and brown, wilting, and dropping, before eventually falling off.

With too much water, the brown areas will usually first appear nearer to the center area of the leaf.

If you notice this, you can cut off the infected leaves as they certainly won’t grow back.

At the same time, this will promote the growth of the new leaves from the center of the tree.

Being a tropical plant, banana is used to moderately sandy soil, with great drainage properties.

So, the most common reason for overwatering is the compact and heavy clay soil, which doesn’t allow for proper drainage and can get waterlogged easily.

To make the soil more suitable for banana trees and prevent overwatering, add 1-2 inches of compost once a month and let it find its way through the soil to create better drainage.

Underwatering

The banana plant can also suffer from a lack of water. If you let the soil dry out, the leaves will first turn yellow and then get a brown discoloration around the tips.

This should signal you that the banana plant is not getting the thorough soaking it needs to keep its foliage healthy.

Banana loves soil that can retain moisture but doesn’t get soggy, as the latter can cause overwatering problems I described above.

So make sure that you water your banana plant regularly and deeply, especially during hot summer months, and even during winter in case of low levels of rainfall.

Nutrients

Similar to watering, a banana plant can suffer from both excesses or insufficient amounts of nutrients.

Therefore, it’s essential that you learn just how much nutrients your banana needs and provide it with the right amount.

Otherwise, you may face several issues with your banana tree including leaves turning yellow or brown.

Insufficient Nutrients

If a banana lacks key nutrients its leaves are likely to turn yellow or brown, especially when it’s absorbing insufficient amounts of nitrogen.

The main reason why this may happen is the poor quality of soil that may be leaching nutrients due to too much drainage or overwatering.

This causes the useful nutrient to move too deep into the soil, where the banana roots can’t reach them.

Excess Nutrients

Too much nutrients is also not a good thing when it comes to the health of your banana tree.

The abundance of brown or yellow spots on the leaves will commonly occur if you over-fertilize banana plants.

One of the potential reasons may also be the use of fast-release fertilizers, as the compost is not potent enough and the plant can’t absorb and process nutrients that quickly.

You should pay particular attention when this happens, as leaf discoloration is usually just a symptom of more serious issues, such as the burning of banana roots.

Fertilizing Banana Plants

To avoid insufficient or excessive nutrient issues, it’s important to learn how to properly fertilize your banana plants.

You can do it with homemade compost or using store-bought fertilizer.

If you decide to buy fertilizer from the store, look for the slow-release, balanced NPK fertilizer, which contains nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

Still, I would recommend using natural compost over chemical fertilizers.

While chemical fertilizers have plenty of nutrients, they’re commonly not of great quality and can hinder the healthy exchange between the beneficial soil life and the banana plant.

Compost, on the other hand, promotes healthy soils, helps with water retention, and provides all the nutrients the plant needs.

Sunlight

Being a tropical plant, banana needs plenty of sunlight to properly develop and grow.

In order to help your banana plant photosynthesize properly, you should provide it with at least 6 hours of sunlight per day.

If you fail to do that, the leaves will likely turn yellow and wilt, losing their ability to develop sugar for the entire plant.

In long term, this can be a rather severe problem and can lead to your banana plant dying.

How to Provide More Sunlight for the Banana Plant

To help the banana plant get sufficient sunlight, always look to plant it so it faces south. This way it will get a maximum amount of sunlight.

Of course, if you live in the southern hemisphere, this means that the plant should be facing north.

Another good idea is to plant it along a south-facing wall so it can get even more heat and light as it reflects off the wall.

Plus, as bananas grow as understory trees, prune any overstory trees that may be blocking access to sunlight.

Also, regularly trim the overgrown upper part of the banana plant itself.

Transplant Shock

If you’ve checked for all the above-mentioned causes but are still unsure and asking yourself why are my banana plant leaves turning yellow and brown, the reason may be the recent relocation of the plant.

The transplant shock, caused by repotting or relocating the banana plant, can cause its leaves to turn yellow, droop, and eventually, fall off.

This is why, if you decide to relocate your banana plant, you should do it as quickly as possible and pay particular attention not to damage its roots.

Conclusion

Taking care of banana plants won’t require much of your time or effort, but should still be taken seriously.

A little bit of work will go a long way in making your plant healthy and helping it thrive and deliver an abundance of fruits.

It’s also essential that you monitor your plant and look for signs that may indicate certain issues and allow you to react quickly before they become too serious.

One of these indicators is certainly the discoloration of banana leaves when they turn yellow or brown.

Even though this may happen naturally it can also be a signal that there’s something wrong.

As the most common reasons for this are improper watering, fertilizing, or the lack of sunlight, you should act to remedy this as soon as you notice that the leaves are changing color.

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