- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 27, 2015

MOLINE, Ill. (AP) - Two gardens in the front yard of Alf Torres’ home in Moline have garnered some attention. Nestled in the ground among dwarf evergreens, blooming sedum and massive clumps of hosta are seven banana plants, the largest towering 14 feet high and holding fruit.

Mr. Torres said he doesn’t grow the plants to harvest bananas, but to add a touch of the tropics to the neighborhood. “I think they look nice,” he said.

According to bananalink.org.uk, the banana is a perennial plant that grows from a rhizome. Usually, the flower appears six to seven months after planting and the banana bunch is ready for harvesting between nine and 12 months.

Bananas are usually grown in tropical regions where the average temperature is 80 degrees and yearly rainfall is between 78 and 98 inches, according to the website. Most bananas grown for commercial export are grown within 30 degrees of the equator in places such as Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, and Panama.

Mr. Torres got his first two plants three years ago from a friend who lives in the Quad-Cities, and quickly learned the plants like Midwestern summer heat and humidity.



He planted four the next year, and seven this year. Each year, at least one banana plant has bloomed and produced three bananas.

Mr. Torres said when people come to visit, they often confuse the banana plants with palm trees. Neighbors will stop when walking by to ask him what he is growing, and after he tells them, they ask how he keeps the plants alive.

He said he hasn’t done a lot of research on growing banana plants, doesn’t amend the soil or do anything special, and they grow.

In a week or two, Mr. Torres will cut each plant down to about four feet tall, place the trunk in a five-gallon bucket with some dirt and bring them inside for the winter. In April, he will bring them up from the basement to acclimate the daylight and temperature, and plant each one outside in May.

The leaves grow from below the ground and emerge from the center of the crown. He said it seems to take forever for that first leaf to appear, but once it does the plant takes off.

His desire for a lush landscape doesn’t stop with banana plants. A full and thriving rubber tree overflows its pot near the end of the driveway. There is also a lime tree, and pots of tropical cannas dotting his garden.

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Source: The (Moline) Dispatch, https://bit.ly/1VKcPbJ

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Information from: The Dispatch, https://www.qconline.com

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