Bananas for shade?

stoshnyMarch 30, 2008


I need something for shading an area of my backyard deck. My septic leachfield is nearby so I can't plant a large shade tree. I have been researching smaller trees but don't necessarily want to wait for one to grow. Anyway...I had an Idea. Could I use a clump of bananas for summer shade? The major problem I have is that because my deck is elevated, I would need them to be in the 12 to 15 foot range to effectively shade the area. Is this asking for to much in zone 6b? Winters are very long here in upstate NY and the growing season is fairly short. Should I try basjoo or should I use another variety and dig them up and store them in the basement for the winter. How close should I plant them together to get a full shade effect? There is no way I can protect them from wind so leaves will be tattered...but I'm OK with that. My other option I guess would be to construct some sort of elevated planting bed. I might be able to get by with 10 foot plants if that was the case. Any help would be greatly appreaciated. THX


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nightrider767(San Antonio)

Dave I'm not an expert, but I'll add my 2 cents worth. In your case I think Basjoo would be ideal. For one, they will be hardy in your area, which will make things very easy.

I mean yeah, you could go with a less cold hardy plant that may grow slightly higher. But why bother?

If I was in your shoes I would give the Basjoo a shot with two goals in mind. For one, I'd try to promote as much growth in every season as possible. Make sure that they are in ideal soil and get plenty of fertilizer.

In addition, since they won't get wind protection. I'd thicken the clump up as much as possible. As the pups come out, when they are about a foot tall, I'd cut them away from the mother plant and plant them nearby. I'm almost certain that this will increase the clump density, by a good measure in a couple of years, there-by giving the plants a better chance against the wind and increasing shade.

There are better plants for shade in your zone, but yours may turn out incredibly nice with care.

Either way, good luck!

    Bookmark   March 31, 2008 at 12:37AM
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Thank you so much night rider. I think I will go with your suggestions. Makes sense not having to drag plants in for the winter. We'll see how it goes. I know that there are more logical choices for shade up here but the thought of sitting on my deck drinking a Mohito in the shade of banana trees seems pretty cool.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2008 at 12:16PM
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I have grown Zebrina (a.k.a. Red Rowe, I think) and Sumatrana X. They have red patches on their leaves and are very pretty. They're now grown in pots and seem to be doing well under my huge Oak tree with some filtered sun. Zebrina also produces a lot of pups. They are a little sensitive to cold and I have had to bring them in the house a few times during the cold spells. Since they don't grow too big, it isn't a problem for me to keep them in pots. I've also grown dwarf cavendish and the regular cavendish under the tree. They also did ok. Try to do a google or a search on the forum. You might get some more info. Hope this little bit helps.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2008 at 1:12PM
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I would need them to be in the 12 to 15 foot range to effectively shade the area. Is this asking for to much in zone 6b?

In zone 6b, a typical banana plant won't reach or exceed 12 ft. until the end of the growing season. By that time, you won't need the shade.

My vote would be to:

1) Plant a banana in a container on your deck.
2) Sit under the shade of a patio unbrella and enjoy watching your banana grow.


    Bookmark   March 31, 2008 at 1:51PM
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Yeah, I'm starting to realize that the shade thing won't work. I'm still going to order some basjoo however. Sould be cool. THX

    Bookmark   March 31, 2008 at 6:38PM
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The tiny Musa manii grows in shade in it's native north India. I have grown it in the shade, and it does just fine and actually grows well in cooler weather. There aren't many that will do that, but another that does well in the shade if it is warm enough is Musa Cheesmanii/Musa nagesium. It actually looks alot better when grown in the shade and gets a black truck, but when it is grown in full sun the trunk is just green with maroon/red base. Definatly a few options, you might want to consider a varigated banana(on ebay right now, expensive though) also since they look better in the shade, and don't get burnt from direct sun.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2008 at 10:16AM
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swmcduff(8/Portland, OR)

Musa Itinerans grows in shade.

Here is a link that might be useful: Musa Itinerans

    Bookmark   April 21, 2008 at 7:50PM
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