Upcycled Banana Planters

Fernando Pacheco
January 29, 2016

We all love bananas. But what you may not know is that the banana plant only fruits once in its lifetime. This usually leads to it being chopped down shortly after harvest.  There are a bunch (pun intended) of alternative uses for the banana’s peels and leaves, but what about its thick base that you just spent the last 15 minutes chopping away at?

What many refer to as the banana tree trunk is actually a false stem comprised of tightly packed sheaths, which serve as a base to its leaves. Its cardboard-like texture allows it to retain moisture, which makes it the ideal medium for mulch. Having just recently mulched my Christmas tree, I was looking for another upcycling alternative.

I decided to cut myself two logs from the base in order to make planters for my garden. I’ve seen examples online of 2-inch diameter holes drilled into the log but I didn’t have a bit that large so I attempted some other methods. What seemed to work best for me was to use my axe to cut a rectangle outline (about 3-inches deep) into the log and carve out the middle with a hand shovel.

I would suggest waiting at least 24 hours before pouring in any soil. The reason being is because the log still has a lot of moisture, any water added will not drain, leaving you with a mud puddle. Once the log has time to dry out a little, more space will be created between the sheaths and should drain sufficiently. If you are short on time, you can drill your own drainage holes.

I would suggest finding a permanent home for your banana planter as sheaths will gradually peel and fall, much like the layers of an onion. As the planter eventually rots and breaks down, it will become part of the soil beneath it – recharging it with nitrogen. The roots growing inside of your planter will then have the opportunity to spread out in the rich soil. If you have other plans for your seedlings, you can also slice the log to divide the seedlings to relocate or space them out as needed.

Although these planters will never be a permanent fixture in your garden, you can rest easy knowing you saved organic waste from going into a landfill and that you have lowered your carbon footprint.

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