What's my problem with basjoos?!

subtropixFebruary 14, 2009

I have, over the years, successfully overwintered many different varieties of bananas (Musa sp., Lasiocarpa, Ensete, etc.). However, I always seem to have a problem with Musa basjoo. I read about people overwintering them in the ground in frigid winter areas and yet I can't get mine to overwinter indoors at subtropical winter temps (60-65 F.) in the basement under the stairs. No problem with the more tender, tropical varieties (Cubans, Saba, Orinoco, you name it). The basjoos pseudobulbs look aweful now (just went down to put all the bananas in containers to start them). The basjoos are soft and mushy, some have a white mildewy covering and look rotted. I potted them up anyway thinking that maybe they just look like this (unlike any of the other varieties). So just what is the problem with basjoos??!!

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wash all the soil off and dry with a fan. then store in dry sawdust. it could have a virus which would make this useless...

Here is a link that might be useful: banana tree growing info.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2009 at 9:06PM
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the_virginian(Zone 7 NoVA)

The problem is you did not plant them outside where they can take a real Zone 7a winter with ease and have a good dormant period. Musa Basjoos in your area will overwinter much better outside in the ground than inside in a cool place. Buy some new ones this Spring, plant them in the ground and forget taking them in-ever! Mulch well in the Fall after the frost knocks them down and forget them! Use Milorganite, Miracle Gro and heavy watering in the growing season and watch them grow like "jack and the bean stalk."

    Bookmark   February 25, 2009 at 5:37PM
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If basjoos have no problem surviving a zone 7a winter, then why can I not get mine to survive a zone 6b winter with heavy mulching and covering? Am I not mulching heavy enough? Attempted twice and both times all I'm left with is a mushy stump.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2009 at 9:46PM
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Boca_Joe(zone 7A)


do you give it time to sprout in spring-sometimes they can be very late and even the mushiest corms sprout. What did you cover with? They do not like to be babied too much either.

I have had no probs here in zone 6b.

My bud in zone 4b in Iowa has had good luck too

Boca Joe

    Bookmark   March 3, 2009 at 10:44PM
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I wonder if protection is being left on to long,I also think providing a barrier between wet mulch and nanars would help.
I brought mine in this winter as I wanted to keep their size,looking forward to planting then mid/late April

    Bookmark   March 4, 2009 at 11:31PM
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My point was that I have had problems overwintering them INDOORS (like other more tropical species). I do NOT have nearly as much trouble overwintering the more tropical species (Cuban Red, Saba, Orinoco, Himalayan or even Chinese Yellow) I planted up the basjoo corms along with the other varieties. But the Basjoo corms look really dehydrated--UNLIKE the other varieties. Is it that basjoos don't tolerate as dry winter (dormant) conditions. PS. This year I will try in the ground as keeping them nice, warm, and dry does not seem to work with basjoos. ???

    Bookmark   March 5, 2009 at 11:30PM
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I have seen this question myself several times
But i can say i do believe that basjoos are diffrient some are real cold hardy and some are not . Does it matter how they are grown ? I'm guessing it would have too but don't realy know.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2009 at 9:27PM
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beachbum_nj(N.J. z7)

I bring mine inside every year and keep it growing. Water once a week. It doesn't look as good as outside, but it still grows (slowly). Try doing that the next time.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2009 at 11:07AM
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What I am going to do is what I did two years ago. I kept it in leaf but dormant--in the garage. My problem has been overwintering the tubers without the tops (inside the house). Also will eventually try it outside in the ground. Thanks.

    Bookmark   March 11, 2009 at 4:53PM
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the_virginian(Zone 7 NoVA)

They are hardy to zone 5a and in the Spring rake back the mulch to let them dry out a bit and they will sprout. Seriously, I would not waste my time if I were you bringing Musa Basjoo inside for the winter-even in your Zone 6b. Hey, Boca Joe, you are a Zone 7a-ya zone slider! :')

    Bookmark   March 14, 2009 at 7:52PM
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So does that mean they can't be overwintered in the house with much success. Will try outside but was just curious as to why they seem harder to overwinter in the house than more tropical species. PS., Virginian, I am in zone 7 but probably with with cooler Springs and Summers than you due to proximity to ocean.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2009 at 4:01PM
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I think the problem is that you are trying to treat a basjoo like any other variety of banana. What make basjoo great is that it can survive, and even thrive, in cold climates. Because it is so well adapted to cold weather, it will not go dormant at temps of 60-65 F.

Therefore, keeping a basjoo at temps where it cannot go dormant, and without sufficient lighting, will lead to its demise.

I overwinter basjoo pups under HID lights in my cool basement at 60F and they thrive. A 1 ft. pup in November is over 4 ft. tall by April.

My suggestions would be one of the following:
1) find a colder location
2) keep them growing by providing adequate lighting
3) overwinter them outside in the ground



    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 10:49PM
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Thanks for your answer. When subtropicals endlessly fail in the house, I usually try them outside (somewhere in some microclimate) and it usually is for the better, so I'll give the basjoos a try outside now.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2009 at 12:36AM
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