How Deep Are the Roots of a Banana Tree?

A collage of banana plant roots, How Deep Are the Roots of a Banana Tree?If you have ever had banana trees on your property, you might have wondered how deep the roots are and what type of root system lies beneath the surface. You may be concerned about their proximity to your sidewalk or foundation. Maybe you’re tired of looking at them and are just wondering how hard they would be to remove. They could even be encroaching upon your garden and other plants, stealing the vital nutrients they depend on, or maybe they are diseased and not worth the trouble of reviving. No matter what your motive is, we’ve done the research to equip and inform you.

Banana tree roots can grow up to 5 feet deep and up to 30 feet wide. Many only grow to about 18 inches deep, but in the right soil, they have been known to get to 5 feet deep. 

If you are considering whether or not to remove a banana tree or wondering if it is at risk for damaging your home’s foundation or sidewalks, we can help you make that decision. Keep reading to find out more.

About Banana “Trees”

Banana trees are herbs, not trees, and are distant relatives to ginger. Their natural climate is tropical, with summer temperatures between 80-100 degrees Fahrenheit and average monthly rainfall over 4 inches. It is possible to grow them in non-tropical climates by digging them up in the Fall and replanting in the Spring. Long periods of drought, as well as frigid weather, are very detrimental to their survival.

Root System

Their fibrous root system allows them to absorb plenty of water and nutrients from the soil. This “mat” remains close to the surface of the soil but can reach up to 5 feet deep in loose, well-drained soil. This also means that the roots will spread out very far in search of these vital nutrients and can sometimes become invasive, posing problems to other plants competing for nutrients.

Most plants are around 16 feet tall, with some varieties stretching up to 23-25 feet, thus the need for a vast, supportive root system. Bananas require lots of food, so robust roots, nutrient-rich soil, and plenty of water are all critical to their survival. Find out more about different types of root systems here.

Can Banana Tree Roots Damage the Foundation?

You need not worry about banana tree roots damaging the foundations of your home, sidewalks, or even your underground water lines. While the size and reach of the root system may be substantial, it will not cause damage to your home or infrastructure, unlike many other trees. This is due to the soft, flexible nature of the roots as opposed to the hard, woody structure of many other tree roots.

How Do You Dig up a Banana Tree?

Banana tree roots close up, planting a banana plant concept.

While it is possible to dig up a banana tree on your own, depending on the size and expansion of the root system, this may be something best left to a professional landscape company. Since there is no woody stump or trunk to contend with, you could simply dig the roots out with a sharp spade shovel after cutting the above-ground growth with a saw. Beware – this could be a lot of work, especially for one person and if the tree is mature. You will then have to dig up the entirety of the underground root system to ensure that it does not send out new growth.

As mentioned above, it is possible to dig up the tree for Winter and replant it in Spring.  If your goal is to get rid of the tree completely, then your only other alternative is to cut it down and use herbicides or kerosene to kill the root system. We cover the steps for that in the next section.

How Do You Kill Banana Tree Roots?

So you want to get rid of your banana tree and ensure it does not come back? If you are not willing to dig up all of the roots, you have two alternative solutions detailed below.

Method 1 – Kill then Cut

Step 1 – Drill numerous holes into the base of the plant, angled down towards the center.

Step 2 – Using a funnel or a syringe, pour or inject a total of 1 ounce of herbicide or kerosene into the holes.

Step 3 – After the plant has wilted and died off (usually one to two weeks later), use a sharp saw or ax to chop down the plant at ground level and dispose of it.

Step 4 – Watch for any additional shoots or growth and spray with herbicide as needed.

Method 2 – Cut then Kill

Step 1 – Cut the plant down to a height of 1-2 feet off the ground.

Step 2 – Pour about 1 ounce of kerosene directly onto the exposed top of the “stump.”

Step 3 – After 14 days, cut the remainder of the “stump” down to ground level.

Step 4 – Watch for any additional shoots or growth and spray with herbicide as needed.

It should be noted that for young plants, typically 4 feet tall or less, you can spray the entire plant with herbicide and wait for it to die. Similar to the other methods, this should take about 14 days. Be sure to do this early on a dry day to ensure the herbicide has maximum contact/exposure to the plant before any rain can wash it off.

The most recommended herbicides for killing banana tree roots are glyphosate and 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid. Here are some popular options:

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2,4-D (Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid) (above) is one of the recommended herbicides for killing banana trees, as is the below glyphosate product.

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What is the Lifespan of a Banana Tree?

The lifespan of a banana tree is about 12 to 15 months. It can take up to 12 months after planting for a banana tree to produce a flower. An additional three or so months later, you will have ripe bananas. After this, the plant dies. While it is producing fruit, it is also growing new plants near the base, which will replace the original dying plant. If the plant is kept healthy, this cycle of replacement can continue for around six years.

How Many Kinds of Banana Trees Are There?

There are believed to be over 1000 different varieties of banana trees that are grown in about 150 different countries.

For a list of 25 of the most common kinds, check out our article: 25 Types of Banana Plants.

In Summary

Florist Transplant Small Banana Tree. How Deep Are the Roots of a Banana Tree?

While banana tree roots can grow up to 5 feet deep in perfect soil and care conditions, most root systems will be less than 3 feet below the surface of the soil. Removing the plant and roots can be a do-it-yourself project but might be labor-intensive for some and will require patience and multiple steps if you decide to use herbicide or kerosene instead of digging up the entire root structure. If this sounds like a lot, your best approach will be to hire a professional landscaper to do the job for you.

For more information on these interesting plants, be sure to check out our below-related articles.

How Do I Get My Banana Tree to Produce Fruit?

Should You Cut Dead Leaves Off A Banana Tree?

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