Bananas are fast-growing herbaceous perennials arising from underground rhizomes. The fleshy stalks or pseudostems formed by upright concentric layers of leaf sheaths constitute the functional trunks. The true stem begins as an underground corm which grows upwards, pushing its way out through the center of the stalk 10-15 months after planting, eventually producing the terminal inflorescence which will later bear the fruit. Each stalk produces one huge flower cluster and then dies. New stalks then grow from the rhizome. Banana plants are extremely decorative, ranking next to palm trees for the tropical feeling they lend to the landscape.
Bananas love sun and heat so pick a sunny location where they will receive light most of the day. Fruiting bananan plants will stop growing if in a mostly shady location; as well shady locations tend to stay wet longer especially in the winter when it is important to reduce watering as it may lead to root rot. Dig a hole twice as wide as the container and about 1 1/2 times as deep. At the bottom of the hole add about 2-4 inches of steer manure and then cover with soil mix to bring the depth to a level that will accommodate the plant. Bananas like well draining organic soil that is rocky and has lava sand, much like you would find in Hawaii. I have had best results with cactus mix soils and the best product has been Organo Patio Mix. It contains lava rock, lava sand amongst other beneficial items. Next cut the bottom of the container and set the plant in the hole, it should be about 2 inches above soil level to accommodate for settling. Next cut away the sides of the container and refill the hole with a mix of 2/3 soil mix and 1/3 native soil and water well. Use the remaining soil to build a berm around the plant.
Bananas need regualr watering to sustain the large tropical leaves and produce sweet tasty fruit. You should expect to water slowly and deeply every 2 or 3 days during the warmer months. A test when to water is when the top 1/2-1 inch of soil is dry. If you planted in a shady spot or one that tends to stay wet for some other reason you may have water less. Bananas are suspectable to root rot and don't like continually wet soil or standing water, though this should only be a concern during the winter as during the midst of summer it is important that you water and don't be afraid to do so as the result would be equally as bad. Banana plants stop growing during the cooler months when temperatures stay below 50's so wont need much water. Don't take this to mean that you let the plant just dry out, it just means that between watering every couple of weeks and our normal winter rains your plant should survive just fine.
If you were careful not to over water during the winter your banana plant should be able to survive our desert frost and occasional freezes with little or no permanent damage. I carried 9 different varieties of bananas plants with out protection during the unusually cold winter nights of Jan. 2007 and all survived, one even fruited during this period. Banana leaves will burn at the slightest frost and though they might look dead to you they should be just fine. At this point just let the dead leaves hang on the plant to provide added protection to the stocks and as soon as it warms back up and you start to see a new leaf emerge then cut off all the dead leaves. The fruit is not so hardy so if your plant was carrying fruit during a frost or freeze it is most likely lost. Though banana plants basically stop growing once night time temperatures stay in the 50's f it is still possible to carry fruit though this time provided that you cover the fruit and add a heat source on very cold nights. In a few weeks once warmer temperatures return hopefully the fruit will continue to ripen and you will be rewarded for your efforts. In the rare event that the stock does not survive, do not dig up the whole plant, just cut the stock at ground level and wait for warmer weather. In all likely hood you should see a new leaf eventually emerge and/or one or more pups from the mat. I had a friend who was out of town during the freeze and his father who thought the plants were dead cut them down and drove over the area with a aerator and his plants still came back.
Banana plants are heavy feeders and would benefit greatly from regular feeding all during the growing season. Best would be to apply a small amount of a balanced fertilizer containing all the secondary and micro nutrients every time you water, next best would be to give a full dose of fertilizer once a month. When the flower is produced I recommend cutting back on nitrogen (N) if you are using a chemical fertilizer as it can turn the fruit black, but continuing to feed with a product that still contains a good amount of pottasium (K). Organic fertilizer are less of a concern and a search on the internet will lead to many suggestions. Also there are a number of products in the stores that work well, from bat guano, fish emulsion to liquid sea weed, just make sure if you are growing your banana plants for fruit that you feed them regulary in order for the plant to produce the maximum size and number of fruit the plant is capable of.
As mentioned in the location and planting paragraph, banana plants like well draining soil with lots of organic matter. Do not use potting soil as this contains a great deal of peat which tends to stay too wet and subject your plant to root rot. Strange as it may seem to you the best product to use believe it or not is cactus/palm mix. True a banana plant is not a cactus however both like sandy, rocky, organic soil that drains very well, the difference is you are going to water a banana plant far more than you are a cactus. Around town the best product I have found is with a good mix of lava sand, lava rock, blood meal, organic matter and other good stuff is ORGANO PATIO MIX FOR PALMS AND CACTUS, packaged locally by GroWell Industries. You should be able to find this or similar in most garden centers. You can grow your plant in a 100 percent medium such as this or at a ratio of 2/3 soil mix to 1/3 native soil. Last you should mulch with a good brand of compost to a depth of 2-4 inches around your plant. This will act as slow release fertilizer as it decomposes but also help in soil evaporation.
Though the banana plant can with stand a good deal of wind and it is unlikely that it would be toppled, summer monsoons can mean trouble when they are carrying a large head of fruit. Depending on when the plant produces its fruit stock it may be necessary to support the fruit stock with two poles during spring winds or summer monsoons to prevent it from snapping off in a high wind.
Though not nessasary, as with most non native plants they would appreciate an afternoon break from the suns most intense rays during summer months, especially if carring fruit. The banana fruit is sensitive to sunburn, so in the case that the fruit is produced on the west side of the plant you would benefit by draping it with shade cloth or other light weight material.