If I still have a pseudostem, does that mean it survived?

turquoise(5)April 4, 2008

I'm in Zone 5 so I haven't uncovered my bananas yet. But I peeked at one yesterday. We had an early winter, so I ran out of time to build a chicken wire cage for this particular plant. I just filled a huge plastic pot with leaves and turned it upside down. But we had a LOT of snow this year (doubling or tripling our average) and I think it served as insulation.

I was happy to see an intact pseudostem, about 8" tall, a little mushy on top, but hard underneath. I'm hopeful it might have actually made it through! This is my second winter trying and the first winter I lost them all. My other bananas are really well protected so I have hope for those as well.

So what do you think? Does an intact psuedostem mean anything?

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arctictropical(Z4)

I would think that if you cut off the mushy part, and it is green underneath, you will be fine. I've had pseudostems die back to the ground and have them come back before, but if the pseudostems are still green, they should grow when it becomes warm enough.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2008 at 5:46PM
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turquoise(5)

Thanks! It does look green, at least near the bottom. Hopefully that's a good sign. We had our first really nice day today and I was outside all day! But I know we have cooler weather coming, so it's still too early to uncover my bananas.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2008 at 9:31PM
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wilson1963(6 SE Ohio)

Hello, Planted my first Basjoo 8"-10" last spring, they grew to around 10'. Frost arrived and turned them brown, I cut them off to about 4-5" above ground, covered them with 6-8" of straw and a light piece of plywood. I just uncovered them and the top is mushy (rotten). I dug around the base and the root looks healthy. My question is: Is it normal for the base where I cut them off at supposed to get mushy? FYI: I found that windmill palms can also be wintered over and would make a nice tropical look to go along with the Musa Basjoo's. Google windmill palm and see what you all think. Any info about the mushiness of my Basjoo's would be appreciated.....thanks....Don

    Bookmark   April 5, 2008 at 10:15PM
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dln949

I uncovered my Musa Basjoo today, and like Don, it was pretty black and mushy right down to the ground level. So, I too am wondering if you all think it is likely to survive, or should I just plan to replace it?

    Bookmark   April 5, 2008 at 11:53PM
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wilson1963(6 SE Ohio)

I will take a photo of mine today and get it posted...I know a family who has 4-6 BIG Basjoo's, they never mulch them...they just freeze and die off to the ground...and they come back every year. I need to stop and ask them when they usually start seeing life as I am also in a hurry...lol

    Bookmark   April 6, 2008 at 7:33AM
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nightrider767(San Antonio)

After over wintering, any part of the stem above the ground, which in fact is old leaves, can be dead.

Keep in mind, the banana plant is underground in the form of a corm, only the leaves go above the ground. So as long as the corm in ok, which it ought to be, you should be ok.

Think of a tulip bulb. As long as that bulb is in good shape, the plant will bloom in the spring. The tulip bulb, like the banana corm is filled with all water and starches the plant needs in order to start.

The banana won't begin to grow anew from the corm until the ground temperature rises.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   April 6, 2008 at 1:35PM
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dln949

That's interesting information from both of you (Wilson1963 and Nightrider767). So, what do you recommend as an overwintering strategy: Simply cut the plant down to ground level? Should it also be mulched above the spot where the plant is?

Also: Let's assume the corm is okay, and good growing conditions. How much growth should one expect if the plant has been cut down to ground level?

Finally: How long should I wait before I can say that this plant just aint commin' back?

Thanks again.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2008 at 3:32PM
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arctictropical(Z4)

You might try building styrofoam boxes to cover bananas and palms. In zone 4, I add flourescent light bulbs to provide a little heat. So far, 12-13 years later, I've had a windmill palm, two Mediterranean fan palms, a pindo palm, and several bananas survive every winter, including -39 F. This last winter it got down to -23 F. The windmill palm has grown to eight feet high. Here are a couple pictures of the windmall palm, Mediterranean palms and banana boxes.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2008 at 6:18PM
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dln949

Arctictropical: What do you do with the banana when you put the box on it? Do you simply cut it down to size to fit it into the box? Or, do you cut it down all the way to ground level?

Also, regarding the box: As I recall, I think I read once elsewhere that you caulk the joints each season - is that correct?

I don't have access to a tractor, I live in the city. How would you modify your design so that it can be disassembled, collapsed for storage, and reassembled in modules? I'd like this to be a one man job if possible.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2008 at 7:11PM
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wilson1963(6 SE Ohio)

Your boxes are awsome!! My wheels are turning now for next fall, Think I will box mine and inside I will have a frame around the tree and wrap the frame with heat tape with a thermostat...or something in that fashion. I just bought a windmill palm and if my Basjoo's don't arrive by May, i'll just replace them and chalk it up as a learning experience.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2008 at 8:19PM
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arctictropical(Z4)

dln949, I cut the banana plants down to the size that will fit under the boxes. I checked them for the first time since winter and they have sprouted new leaves. I will leave the boxes on until May. Regarding re-caulking them, usually I don't recaulk them every year, and just the "seams" where the caulking has separated from the box, so it really isn't that often. I am going to modify the largest boxes by cutting one side out so that I can slide the box around the plant, and then replace the styrofoam panel and re-seal with some kind of removeable seal, so that I won't be required to lift the boxes over the plants. I don't see why it won't work, so we'll see what happens next Fall. Since I store the boxes behind a garden shed, I have not worried about collapsing them, especially since I built them fairly sturdy so that they would last for 10-15 years. Put your thinking cap on and let me know if you come up with something grand. I have modified the box design over the years. There's always a new and better way to do it, sitting out there for someone to think up!

wilson1963, the flourescent light bulbs are an easy way to heat the boxes. They are attached to the top of the boxes, and all I have to do is put the box over the palm, and I'm done until Spring.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2008 at 4:28PM
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nightrider767(San Antonio)

dln949, in zone 4,,, I don't know what I might do. I'd certainly protect the plant in the best way possible. Maybe cut it down to 3 ft, surround it by styrofoam pipe wrapper, cut the bottom out of a big plastic pail, put that over the plant, surround it by leaves and cover the top.

But I really have to wonder, at that point, might it be better to bring it inside in the winter? Bringing it inside is a pretty straight forward process, banana has a very shallow root system.

I think in the end, you could bring the banana back to life much earlier in the season, inside your house, and give it a jump start. I think you'd extend the growing season and end up with a bigger banana.

As for the growth of the banana when you cut it back. In general terms a banana is bi-annual. Every year the corm will increase in size until it dies after flowering. The corm size determines the size of the plant, not cutting it back.

Good luck and just leave your plant there and hope for the best. If you absolutely, positively, right now, gotta know. Very gently, dig in around the corm and probe around with your finger. You only need to go 2 inches or so below the soil level. If it's dry and firm, you are in luck.

I've always been a wait and see guy myself!

    Bookmark   April 8, 2008 at 7:15PM
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wilson1963(6 SE Ohio)

UPDATE: Went to dollar general store yesterday and bought a clear plastic box (biggest they had) and covered the entire area of my banana mush...sunshine today and greenhouse temps inside the box brought up 3 starts off to the side of the 2 bulbs (corms)...I assume these are pups...has anyone else ever jump started them like this??

    Bookmark   April 9, 2008 at 6:45PM
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wilson1963(6 SE Ohio)

Checked this morning, 3 more starts, 3 on each...

    Bookmark   April 10, 2008 at 9:15AM
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arctictropical(Z4)

I've had the same thing happen to Texas Star edible bananas. They died down to the ground but sprouted new pups all over the place.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2008 at 4:22PM
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nightrider767(San Antonio)

wilson1963, that is one slick idea! Make a mini-greenhouse for the banana. Yes, I like that. Think I'll try the same thing next year. Only one problem I might expect. If you get the plant going too early, it'll begin to grow and quickly outgrow the size of the box.

If the plant can't fit under the box, then the new growth might get damaged ffrom the night time freeze...

    Bookmark   April 11, 2008 at 2:53PM
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wilson1963(6 SE Ohio)

trying to post photos of them when I uncovered them...

Here is a link that might be useful: http://i287.photobucket.com/albums/ll121/wilson1963/Musa%20Basjoo/Tree003.jpg[/IMG]

    Bookmark   April 11, 2008 at 9:13PM
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wilson1963(6 SE Ohio)

once again trying to post photos...

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   April 13, 2008 at 12:20PM
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wilson1963(6 SE Ohio)

8 musa starts now, planted windmill palm and 14 elephant ears today, 4/18, almost 80 today.

http://s287.photobucket.com/albums/ll121/wilson1963/Musa%20Basjoo/

    Bookmark   April 18, 2008 at 10:09PM
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cincybrad(6 (SE Ohio))

I've been growing a couple Bananas in Pots for the past few years, but this past year was the first time I planted them in the ground. I left 1 outside, and brought two of them inside. I didn't go too overboard with using Xmas lights and makeshift greenhouses. I just left the Banana as is, and covered it and the ground around it with a couple bags of Mulch. I wrap the bottom 1-2 feet of the psuedostem with plastic wrap and put about 9-12 inches of mulch as filler. Now, I'm just waiting to see if it lived. Most of the psuedostem that I have seen/touched is kind of mushy.

Any idea how long it should take to see some pups come up if the corm survived? I really liked Wilson's Idea with the mini greenhouse, so I just went out and put a few stakes in the ground around the corm and put some clear plastic over top to get the same effect. Hope this will help.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2008 at 6:38PM
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wilson1963(6 SE Ohio)

Cincybrad, I had pups showing within 24 hours, but I had a full day of sun and temps around 70, unlike todays rain and 60ish. However, I did carefully dig around the corm with my fingers to see if it was firm or mushy clear down....it was firm which is what gave me hope. I have 8 pups starting with a few around 4" already.

http://s287.photobucket.com/albums/ll121/wilson1963/Musa%20Basjoo/

    Bookmark   April 19, 2008 at 7:06PM
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cincybrad(6 (SE Ohio))

Thanks for the response. Another quick question though...I spread the mulch around the ground so it is about an inch or two thick above the dirt. should I gently clear out this mulch until some pups come up? or should that not really matter?

In some other good news, the banana I brought indoors has finally started growing. Main psuedostem and two pups resumed growing in the last few days. Now just gotta hope for the rest.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2008 at 2:11PM
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wilson1963(6 SE Ohio)

I had sea shells around mine and removed them as I wasn't sure how fragile the pups are when they come up. Not knowing how dense the mulch is, I say move it as you can always put it back. Found this on youtube today, a way for wintering them over...just a fyi for anyone interested...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKJlbM77wXE

    Bookmark   April 24, 2008 at 9:27PM
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nyssaman(Z6 ON)

MY Banana was uncovered a week and a half ago and the top was mush - It was in a bad area for light so I decided to lift it clean it off and re-pot it . I then gave it a hydrogen peroxide soak with some super thrive added. After the excess water drained I took it inside and put it on the heat mat to give it a jump start - the bottom of the corm itself near the roots was very hard I'm thinking this is a good sign - I'm crossing my fingers - I will keep everyone posted as to my success.

Jeff

    Bookmark   April 27, 2008 at 9:41PM
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blondboy47(z6b(almost 7) ON,Canada)

nyssaman. If the corm is hard, it will come back.

Ours is already putting out its first shoot. If ours came back, I'm sure yous will too.

Good luck! (fun huh?) ):D

    Bookmark   April 29, 2008 at 1:45PM
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cincybrad(6 (SE Ohio))

Well...about a month after I Posted about my overwintered banana...just no luck. I think she's a goner. I tried covering it with a makeshift clear plastic greenhouse, nothing happened. So I got impatient and dug up the corm. The roots looked all dead, and edges of the corm seemed a little mushy/rotted. I tried to let it dry out a bit, and still nothing. So, I found a patch in my garden that I wasn't using and put it in the ground and if it comes up, thats great, if not...I don't expect it to.

I got to thinking though, this was not my Basjoo. This was my Zebrina. Are Zebrinas cold hardy enough to survive a Zone 6 winter?

    Bookmark   May 29, 2008 at 3:45PM
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lac1361(z9a Lake Charles, LA)

Zebrinas are hardy to Zone 8, maybe, Zone 9 for sure.

Steve

    Bookmark   May 29, 2008 at 5:13PM
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