Fruit Tree Troubles in Texas

“I planted a banana tree early this year, and it just seems not to be growing. And my cherry tree seems to be dying, and why is it supposed to be in full sun or half shade? It’s in full sun. And my pomegranate tree bloomed but didn’t produce fruit.” Questions from Carol of Joaquin, Texas

Answers: It sounds like you are having lots of fruit tree troubles. I’ll tackle each question separately.

Slow-Growing Banana

Banana trees are typically fast growers. You have the warmth bananas need in your East-Texas location, so I’ll detail the other things bananas require to really thrive.

Bananas grow best in full to partial sun and well-drained soil that’s very high in organic matter and has a pH between 5.5 and 6.5. Amending your banana’s soil with lots of rich amendments, such as Black Gold Garden Soil or Peat Moss, would do the trick. Next, they need lots of regular water to grow to their fullest. Their huge leaves require more-than-average irrigation to become truly robust. Bananas are also heavy feeders and require a monthly application of a balanced fertilizer formulated for tropical fruit.

Make certain your banana is planted in a protected spot because they grow poorly where there are high winds. In winter, be sure to cover the crown with plenty of compost or bark mulch to help it survive.

Dying Cherry Tree

Cherry trees can survive with less sunlight. They just won’t grow or produce flowers and fruit as well without full sun.

How old is your cherry tree, and do you know what variety you have? There are many cherry diseases that could be causing it to decline. Do you see any symptoms, like leaf spots, stem cankers, or dying branches? This information will help me identify the problem. A photo would also help.

I also recommend you take a look at the Texas Plant Disease Handbook for Cherries (click here to view it). It may help you determine what’s causing your tree trouble.

Fruitless Pomegranate

How old is your pomegranate, and do you know the variety? If you planted it recently, it usually takes two and a half to three years before a tree successfully sets fruit. There are several other factors that can reduce fruit set. Pomegranates are adapted to arid and semi-arid climates, so high humidity has been known to negatively impact fruiting.

Lack of pollinators is also a common problem. Most pomegranates are self-fruitful, but they still benefit from cross pollination for better fruiting. If you only have one tree, try planting another, and be sure to plant plenty of pollinator-friendly flowers around.

I hope this info helps. Feel free to send further information about your cherry and pomegranate trees.

Happy gardening!

Jessie Keith, Horticulturist




Plants are the lens Jessie views the world through because they’re all-sustaining. (“They feed, clothe, house and heal us. They produce the air we breathe and even make us smell pretty.”) She’s a garden writer and photographer with degrees in both horticulture and plant biology from Purdue and Michigan State Universities. Her degrees were bolstered by internships at Longwood Gardens and the American Horticultural Society. She has since worked for many horticultural institutions and companies and now manages communications for Sun Gro Horticulture, the parent company of Black Gold. Her joy is sharing all things green and lovely with her two daughters.

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