If you have some space outside, a long, warm growing season, and a hankering for new fruit, cassabanana is the plant for you. Producing long, ornamental vines and huge, sweet, fragrant fruit, it’s a great addition to your garden and an interesting conversation piece. Keep reading to learn more about how to grow cassabanana plants.
What is Cassabanana?
The cassabanana (Sicana odorifera) is not, as the name suggests, a banana. It’s actually a type of gourd. The fruit, however, is very similar to a melon. Cassabanana fruits grow to about 2 feet (61 cm.) long and 5 inches (13 cm.) thick and are nearly perfect, sometimes curved, cylinders.
The skin can be red, maroon, purple, or even black, and is thick enough that it has to be hacked open with a machete. Inside, however, the yellow flesh is very similar in taste and texture to that of a cantaloupe.
The smell, which is very strong even before the fruit has been cut, is sweet and pleasant. Interestingly, it is often placed in closets and around houses as an air sweetener and moth deterrent.
How to Grow Cassabanana Plants
Growing cassabanana plants are native to Brazil and are now grown throughout South America, Central America, and the Caribbean. If you start it very early indoors, however, you may have success growing it as far north as USDA zone 6. The main problem in temperate zones is giving the fruits enough time to ripen before the first frost.
Prior to sowing seeds, it helps to soak them first. Plant them about an inch deep (2.5 cm.) and give them a bright, sunny location. The plants should germinate fairly quickly. Once all danger of frost has passed, the plants can be moved outdoors in full sun. It can also be grown indoors in areas outside their hardiness zone.
The cassabanana plant is a single vine that can grow to 50 feet (15 m.) in length. The vine produces tendrils with suction-cup like discs that allow it to climb almost any surface. It will climb a tree with ease, but there is a very real danger that it will suffocate and kill the tree. The best option is to let it climb a very sturdy trellis or arbor.