This summer has been great for growing banana plants which must have hot moist growing conditions to produce fruit. In our sandy soils, a heavy application of organic mulch should be placed around the plants to suppress weeds and conserve moisture and plant nutrients. A Heavy mulch layer should be constantly renewed as it decays. The banana plant is a constant feeder and usually will respond better to frequent light applications of fertilizer than from heavy applications. A well grown banana plant bears fruit when it is 12 to 18 months old. From flowering to fruit maturity takes about 3 months. When the banana plant begins to flower, the terminal inflorescence forces its way upward through the stalk emerging from the top of the plant in the form of a purplish-red heart shaped bud, this flower bud will bend downward and the clusters of fruits called hands turn upward as they develop. Each flower stalk produces fruit hands just once. The old banana plant should be chopped down after successful fruit production. New suckers will arise from the base and in turn will produce fruit. For more information on growing bananas call the UF/IFAS Palm Beach Extension Master Gardener volunteer hotline M-F 233-1750.