How to Prune Growing Plantains

Plantains and bananas are from the same fruit family, Musaceae. Plantains, hybrid bananas, are larger and more angular in form than sweet bananas, with skins that are green, red, pink or dark brown. They contain more starch and are usually cooked before being eaten. The only difference between a banana plant and a plantain is plantains lack male flowers. Pruning allows the plants to channel energy into production of fruit and vegetative growth necessary for high quality plantain crops. Each plantain mat should consist of a stalk, also called a pseudostem, that is flowering and fruiting, one half-grown stalk and a developing sucker. All other growth only diverts the plant's energy away from producing fruit.

Remove suckers, also called peepers, from the ground as soon as they appear at the base of the tree with a banana knife or by hand.

Dig out the rest of the plantain sucker with a metal bar, then push the bar into the ground, twisting if necessary, to kill the bud of the sucker underground.

Cut off the end of the flowering stalk that has no fruit on it.

Prune off leaves that are drooping, withering, dead or rubbing against the bunches of plantains with a banana knife.

Chop back the fruiting stalk to 2 1/2 feet above ground level with a machete after harvesting plantains.


Killing the underground sucker buds will save time because they'll regrow quickly if the buds are left intact.

Things You'll Need

  • Banana knife
  • Metal bar
  • Machete
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Marie Louise is passionate about her writing, bringing personal knowledge and experience on Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, chronic pain conditions, parenting, research, alternative medicine and animals. Her work appears on several different websites.