05:00PM, Saturday 11 August 2018
A retired headteacher was ‘gobsmacked and intrigued’ when a banana plant she has had for years suddenly started growing fruit.
Laurel Roberts started growing a banana plant in her garden in Poplars Grove eight years ago when her husband gave it to her for her 60th birthday.
A plant she started growing as an offshoot four years later began sprouting fruits about eight weeks ago when the hot summer weather started to kick in.
It is a rare occurrence for the tropical fruits to grow outdoors in the UK but a particularly hot summer with consistent 30 degree heat has seen the fruits start to grow.
Laurel said: “I was gobsmacked and intrigued when I saw that bananas were growing.
“I never expected it to grow fruit, I read on the web that they will grow if they are kept in hot houses but not outside.
“Normally I keep it watered and feed it with liquid seaweed. At the moment there are four visible bunches and some more growing.”
At around eight weeks old, the bananas are still very small and under-ripe, and Laurel predicts that it will take several months before they become fully grown, and may never be edible.
According to Laurel, the bananas, which are the species Musa Basjoo, commonly known as the Japanese banana, are the only variety that can grow outside in the UK.
The area has become a small hotspot for growing exotic fruit in 2018, as amateur gardener Ming Lui, who lives in Dorney, grew a pineapple in his kitchen in May.
According to the Royal Horticultural Society’s website, bananas need a period of up to 15 months of temperatures at an optimum 27 degrees to fully grow, and a further two to four months to ripen.
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