The aquatic banana plant derives its name from the structure of its roots, which resembles that of a banana.
The plant is one among the many endangered species at risk of completely vanishing from the surface of the earth. The plant hails from Southeastern United States; aquarium banana plants have been found to grow in rivers and lakes that have slow-moving waters.
Also known as the banana lily, the big floating heart, the brain plant or the underwater banana plant resembles the unripe bananas and are scientifically known as Nymphoides Aquatica. If you are a beginner and are only getting to know about the banana plant, you will most likely confuse the tubers for roots.
However, the roots do grow from the stem, are thin and grow downwards into the substrate; they normally feature a white or light green color. So now that you know the difference between the tubers and the root, you should also know that if you dare plant the tubers in the substrate it will rot.
An interesting fact about the banana plant is that it will surprise you with a lily at the top of the aquarium while maintaining other short leaves at the bottom of the tank, the lily stem are usually very long up to about 28inches. The leaves are mostly known to be green in color, but on some occasions, you will find that they feature a patchy red color.
Planting the Banana Plant
Like most aquarium plants that don’t really appreciate being planted in the substrate, the banana plant also doesn’t need the substrate to start growing. So when the time comes for planting you have two options to either leave it floating in the water or plant it in the substrate. If you decide it to leave it floating in water then within no time you will see it produce roots up to one foot long, which will grow directly into the substrate to help anchor it in place.
For your plant to grow effectively and in a healthy manner, it would be best if you utilized fertilizer. However, it is recommended that it be planted into the substrate so that it doesn’t have to use so much effort searching for substrate after producing the roots.
How to prevent your banana plant from floating
Everyone has their own likes and dislikes, and not everyone would want their banana plants floating, so if you don’t want it floating in water when planting, you can use the plant weight glue, or tie it on a rock or other hard surface in your aquarium.
You will then wait for it to be established then you can remove it from the stone, as it can now anchor itself to the substrate. Once the banana plant is grown you will notice that there are instances where the roots will suspend it in water.
Lighting is not a very big deal for the banana plant but it should be provided nonetheless, so whether low or bright light the plant will thrive, but keep in mind that low lights will lead to the leaves being submerged. However, if you want the hearty surface lily then provide the plant with medium or high light.
Also, depending on the plants that you have in your aquarium, you will be the best person to decide whether you want the lily up on the surface or not, remember that the bottom plants might not get enough light when the lily is on the surface. And that is the reason why people sometimes choose to stunt their growth.
How to stunt the banana plant
For one you can skip the CO2, lower the temperatures and light, and when it starts to grow big you will notice that it has short stalks and small leaves, and you can thus relax as it will not dominate your aquarium. You can also cut off the stem and the lily if they are altering growth patterns and conditions in your aquarium.
Given their natural habitat and their origin, the banana plant will thrive in warm temperatures, you can, therefore, provide tropical temperatures of either 68 degrees to 82 degrees, that is if you don’t want it to have stunted growth.
The flow rate of your filter is also a major concern, while in its natural habitat the banana plant grows in areas with slow-moving waters, and this should be the same case in your aquarium. If your filter is flowing too fast then consider reducing its flow rate but be careful, as you may easily interfere with the environment of other aquarium dwellers.
How to check for a healthy new aquarium banana plant
There are two ways of acquiring the banana plant one is by propagating, but this will only work for those who already have the plant in their aquarium. Another method is buying, and here you have to be very vigilant or risk buying one that will die within days of planting.
So basically as you buy your banana plant, check to ensure that the leaves, stems, roots, and tubers are healthy; a characteristic of a healthy leaf is that they have a rich green color, with fewer holes and cracks around the edges. New plants will thus have a light green color, while the older plants will feature a rich green color.
Also check on the tubers because they are responsible for the growth of the plant, and it is also here that nutrients are stored. Look for the ones that are thick, numerous, have a rich green color with zero cuts and cracks. Also, ensure that there are no signs of algae growing on the different parts of the plant mostly on the leaves and stems.
Propagating the banana plant
Once you notice the lily pad leaf on the surface of your aquarium, you can cut the stalk so that about 4 inches of the plant is left and you can then place it back inside the aquarium. Keep a close eye for the roots that will form at the base of the stalk and once they appear you can plant it in the substrate.