How big are your zebrinas

sfhellwig(6a SE Kansas)June 22, 2005

On the Going Bananas site it says 6-8 ft but of course that's in Florida. I am in Kansas. My zerinas have put off several pups and are in containers but they are three years old and lucky if they are 3 ft tall. The biggest one almost bit the dust this winter after the pstem split one one side but it has recovered. They are growing quickly and look spectacular but why aren't they getting bigger. The only fertilizer I have is like 10-30-10. Is that what is wrong? I've seen giant bananas in tiny pots that I could hardly believe so I know their not underpotted. Any ideas? Any pics of big blood leafs? People don't seem to be so interested in this variation. I know they're not very cold hardy but what gives?

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dan112(S Ontario z6)

I bought some zebrinas this winter for 5 bucks at a nursery. They didn't look so good so they were on sale. The pot came with a mother and a pup. The mother stopped growing a day later and the pup has slowly grown through the winter. Its now about 4-5feet tall and it looks good. I love the look of the variations in the leaves. Now that its out in the sun the leaves get a really nice red pattern on them when they come out. I used to use that fertilizer too. I think its the general plant fertilizer. I asked about that on this board and I was told that you should really look for a fertilizer with a higher last number (potassium I believe).

    Bookmark   June 22, 2005 at 5:22PM
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sfhellwig(6a SE Kansas)

Not just trying to bump my own message but does nobody else grow zebrina. Maybe it cause it was the first bananas I ever grew or my affinity for verigation but I thought they were more common than that. I feel like every body is missing out.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2005 at 4:12PM
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dan112(S Ontario z6)

What do you do with yours over the winter in Kansas? I had mine indoors and they seemed to do partially decent, but I'm toying with the idea of just storing them in a cool room in the basement to save myself the hassle over the winter.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2005 at 4:59PM
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sfhellwig(6a SE Kansas)

I keep them in the pots and stick them wherever I can near a south window. First winter I nearly killed them by over watering. This winter I pushed them a littl dry but they seemed to do better dry than wet. Luckily the copy shop I work with has several large west windows so I talk them into letting me bring a few up for the winter. Otherwise they would die in my house or I would have to give up half of our back room to house them. They do not seem to be a very cold hardy plant as they just looked weak all winter compared to our green variety. Not sure if they take to storage as well as the other varieties. That's kind of why I started this thread. Just doesn't seem to be much talk of zebrina. I have not seen it included in all of the awesome posts of how many stalks somebody had under their house. I would try one each way before committing to putting all of them in the basement.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2005 at 5:20PM
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mauryc(8b-9a Louisiana)

Mine are beautiful but they grow slow, even in the south Louisiana heat and humidity. I'll see how they do after winter. I may just put them in pots on the patio if they don't pick up speed. They are everywhere down here, especially in newer homes landscaping.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2005 at 5:23PM
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growinweeds(z9b FL)

I have 3 Zebrinas just got them June 16th- they're tissue cultures @ 1 1/2 feet. Right now the leaves in the evening are all droopy but by morning the leaves are perky again. They are potted & in indirect light I have to move them to keep the sun off them.


    Bookmark   June 23, 2005 at 9:37PM
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sfhellwig(6a SE Kansas)

Yes, I also noticed they are very animated with their leaves. Even when they are well watered they pinch shut during the heat of the day only to open up in the evening when there is less chance of water loss. But that's alright, I always water in the evening so I get to enjoy the color more then.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2005 at 9:39AM
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dan112(S Ontario z6)

I've noticed that the leaves on mine are pinched shut through most of the day too. Mine is in full sun though. Have you also noticed that the leaves are really susceptable to tearing. Mine was all ripped up a day or two after I brought it outside.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2005 at 9:45AM
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Started with a pup this spring,because the mother croaked over the winter,it's about 2 1/2 feet now,but has nice coloring.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2005 at 1:18AM
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Bigger picture.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2005 at 1:23AM
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unautre(8B San Antonio TX)

With some foliage, you can play with addings minerals to get the foliage color to change, be deeper.

Can any such tricks be played with zebrina/rojo to obtain more and/or deeper purple area?

    Bookmark   June 26, 2005 at 8:48AM
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sfhellwig(6a SE Kansas)

Wow DBrya1, that is some heavy coloration. Never seen one with such solid patches of red. I just shot a bunch of pics this weekend I need to post to show my coloration and tearing. I did not think these tear any more than my big leaf green banana. And they took some wind this spring. I was very concerned but compared to their cool weather and winter behavior, their wind tolorence has been admired. Pics later today hopefully.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2005 at 9:13AM
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sfhellwig, i have tried storing them dry over the winter, in a non frezzing but cold location, and they did not make it. i throw them in pots after cutting off the main stalks in the fall. this way i dont have to have a 6 foot high, three foot wide plants in the house. i bring the pots in the house in october, with just the pups remaining. dont over water . they will lose their color over the winter , and will not hardly grow all winter but will come back strong in the spring. i have had them in the ground and in pots for the summer, and both have gotten to 6-7 foot tall. but you must fertilize regularly. i fertilize my zebrina and basjoo weekly from may to september. good luck with them. sue

    Bookmark   June 27, 2005 at 9:00PM
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bananalover(GA z7b)

What do you fertilize them with?
I have one that I got last year, kept it in the greenhouse overwinter. The greenhouse has a heater but does not stay too warm. It grew very little but looked great all winter. This summer I put it on my porch with the others. It really folds up its leaves so I put it closer to the big bananas where it wasn't quite so hot. It still has not grown much. I believe I will pot it in a larger pot with fresh soil and see if it will do better.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2005 at 9:06PM
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bananalover, i use the water soluble miracle grow once a week. lots of people complain about their zebrinas not getting big, and then i see people posting trades for dwarf zebrinas. i cant help but wonder if you and some others have gotten a dwarf strain ?? i've never heard of it before this spring, but there are posts for dwarfs. mine are in several locations on my property, and dont have the problem with leaves folding up in the heat. some are in full sun, some in 3\4 sun, so i dont know what to tewll you about that. good luck with yours, sue

    Bookmark   June 28, 2005 at 11:33PM
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bananalover(GA z7b)

Thanks. I have some miracle grow here and will try it. Mine is doing better where I have it now. I think it is probably because it just came out of the greenhouse for the first time. I got it last fall so it never was outside here until this year. The leaves are not scorching anyway so I think it will be fine.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2005 at 10:22PM
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daveandlaura(8b-S. Louisiana)

Hey Maury,

Interesting that your zebrinas are slow to grow. I cut mine back for the winter and this spring it has taken off and is the second fastest grower behind a Dwarf Jamaican Red and out of a total of 7 types.

It's weird, though, that the mother corm was VERY slow to start sending out leaves, but started pups that are growing VERY fast.


    Bookmark   June 30, 2005 at 2:50PM
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sandy0225(z5 Indiana)

My zebrinas are 3.5 feet for one, and the other is about 1.5 feet tall. The larger one has a couple of pups, and it is not really growing very fast, but the pups are growing like crazy. I've noticed if you grow them in partial shade, they keep better color than in full sun. I noticed on a website that they suggest 30-60% shade for ones you're growing for foliage production, and less than 30% shade on bananas you're growing for fruit production.All my bananas get really shredded in the spring, Indiana is very windy in May and early June.But they look really good by the first of August again.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2005 at 4:25PM
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My Zebrinas range in height from about a foot tall to about three feet tall. The tag that came with the plants says the height should range from 36-48", not that I put a lot of stock in what plant tags

I agree with sfhellwig these are great plants. I'm also glad to learn that it is normal for this plant to fold its leaves during the heat of the day.


    Bookmark   July 4, 2005 at 3:20PM
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Casa_Del_Gatos(z8 AL)

Ours are ranging from a foot to 4 or more already this year. We have found that they love being under the canopy of larger green bananas, thereby getting only partial sun, which in an Alabama Gulf Coast Summer is STILL pretty dang hot! Thankfully, the green ones (I think they're cavendish, planted by previous owners) are already at 6 feet and show no signs of slowing down so they should keep pace.

We've got enough pups this year I'm going to do a little experimentation with moving some to areas with varying amounts of sun. Hey, the least they could do is give their lives for science!

    Bookmark   July 4, 2005 at 4:59PM
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tropicalfreak(z10b Ft Lauderdale)

my 3 are up to 7ft now. when ui planted them i used lots of compost so when it rains the compost holds enough water so they don't droop.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2005 at 10:36PM
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tropicalkid(z6 MI)

Sorry to interrupt the thread in the post,but can somebody post pictures of a zebrina banana bunch/flower? I bought one of these plants recently, and have never seen one bunch with flower yet.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2005 at 4:23PM
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sfhellwig(6a SE Kansas)

I'm sorry I don't have a pic but would love to see one myself. Especially of all the pictures of blooms people have been posting lately. This thread has shown me that plenty of us grow zebrinas but lets find out how many have fruited one. And yes I know its considered inedible but getting a bloom/fruit in a certain zone is a huge accomplishment for some of us.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2005 at 9:44AM
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unautre(8B San Antonio TX)

I have 2 new Zebrinas picked up a few months ago, small and cheap. now about 3 ft tall. I can see now they were very clearly stunted and bleached in May-July in full 95F hot sun, even with frequent watering and fert.

Now in shade except for early morning, they have really taken off again and the latest 2 or 3 leaves on each are keeping their wine, while the wine in all the lower leaves from full sun is long gone (but the older leaves aren't burned up).

    Bookmark   July 21, 2005 at 1:21PM
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On the subject of Zebrina, I have a small plant about 2ft tall in its second year FROM SEED. I know that resultant plants from seed are variable but this plant is a slow grower and has dark green leaves with NO sign of red long before I see the famous red leaves ??

    Bookmark   July 21, 2005 at 5:31PM
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This is a picture of mine after 2 months growth. It was about a 2' pup when I planted it. I fertilize and water heavily. To grow in pots you have to have big pots and not water as much as you do when planted in the ground. I like zebrinas. I think we become banana snobs after a while. Zebrinas grow fast and easily in my opinion. I tried to grow them in pots indoors in WV but they didn't grow well. They grow like crazy in SC. I am between CHarleston and Savannah.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   July 14, 2008 at 2:19AM
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got this one at the depot about middle june it was a double about 10 inches tall.this plant has been one of my best growers.broken sun until late afternoon then full.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   July 23, 2008 at 11:21PM
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Dave in NoVA • 7a • Northern VA

I think for best growth, they need really to grow in the ground rather than in a pot. They like rich, loamy soil, moisture, and fertilizer. My planted bananas almost always grow larger than my potted bananas. Don't know why exactly, because the potting soil is good. Maybe they like cooler roots and more minerals available in soil? Dunno.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2008 at 8:06AM
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sfhellwig(6a SE Kansas)

I finally saw the replies and realized I started this thread. Alas my zebrinas are still in pots and I do agree they would do much better in the ground. I just have dug up my yard enough this year. I do need to split them and hopefully they will fare better separated. I think they are just tired plants. I see the ones at Home Depot and you can see that they are vigorous and I just don't have that. I guess I now know their potential and that I have just not given them the conditions to reach it.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2008 at 9:42AM
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I've had a Zebrina clump in a pot for about 4 years now and have just realized after trial and error that they do better in semi-shade. If you want to leave it in a pot that you can bring in during the winter months, you might try burying the pot in the ground in a flower bed. I've done this with several ensete and tropical hibiscus, and they seem to do better buried in the ground, so it is quite possible that they do like their roots to be cool.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2008 at 12:36PM
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Dave in NoVA • 7a • Northern VA

Someone on the citrus forum did some temperature checks on soil in black or dark pots sitting in the sun, and the temperatures were off the charts HOT! -- especially just near the inside of the pot, which, as we know, is where most the roots end up. These super high temperatures are not good for root developement. He ended up painting the pots black on one side and white on the other. During cool seasons he would turn the black side to the sun. In summer he would turn the white side to the sun.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2008 at 1:03PM
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watergal(z6/7 Westminster, MD)

I also read about putting the black nursery pot inside another container, preferably light colored, to help shade the roots.

I would suspect that most plants grow larger in the ground, all other things being equal. There is more room for the roots to spread out, and likely more water and nutrients as well. I know I've seen this with cannas - I put some in ground and some in pots, and the in-ground ones grew bigger. Think about bonsai - the trees stay stunted because the root area is so small.

I used to grow blood banana, but I got tired of overwintering it inside as a houseplant. It always got spider mites, and the mother plant would always die off, leaving me with pups. The foliage is really pretty though, maybe I'll try again someday.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2008 at 7:43AM
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Few pictures to share of my Zebrina or Red Rowe. I never quite know the difference. Both of these are about 6 ft tall now. They're almost 2 years old and were about 2-3 ft when I got them. They're now under my huge oak tree and seem to do ok in shade, though I don't know if they will ever get to fruit.

Picture 1 (See their pups there? I think I will separate the pups soon. The separated pups will take off better in their own pots)

Picture 2 (A little bigger picture of the two plants)

Picture 3 (A new leaf showing its nice red underside)

    Bookmark   July 27, 2008 at 10:55AM
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glen3a(Winnipeg MB 3A)

I bought a zebrina from the nursery and it wasn't the nicest looking specimen. Barely two leaves and about 8 inches high, though the neat thing is that it was already getting pups/suckers near the base. I had to debate whether it was worth the price, especially because the maurelli's were the same price and nicer looking, but I really wanted it and so far so good. (FYI, of course I couldn't resist and bought both types of banana).

I bought an extra zebrina plant and gave my Mother one. It is in a flower bed in part shade and definitely has better coloring than mine which was in full sun, the leaves on mine just look bleached out. The overall height of my plant has not grown beyond about 15 inches tall, however, but it's more full looking with the pups filling out.

I think I'm going to try to overwinter as a houseplant.


    Bookmark   August 9, 2009 at 9:43AM
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Several decades ago, I saw a mature zebrinia at Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago. As I unclearly recall, it was about 12 ft. high, but what I clearly remember was that its variegation markings were barely visible. It was not a particularly attractive banana plant.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2009 at 12:05PM
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Matt Conner

Hey everyone! Here is a recent picture of my zebrina, taken earlier today. Do you think I should transplant the bigger ones into their own pots?

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 3:36PM
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Recently purchased Musa Zebrina with about 4 leaves. It's in a 20" diameter pot with 'Black Gold' organic soil mix. It now has about 10 leaves and reliably gets new shoots but so far with each new shoot that develops the lower ones begin to die off. It was in full sun (10 hrs /day) but the leaf tips were burned so I moved the pot to part sun. Any ideas why I keep losing the lower leaves?

    Bookmark   July 2, 2014 at 3:14PM
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sfhellwig(6a SE Kansas)

To HoosierPagan you surely don't need to transplant them. The only reason to split is if you really want more pots of plants. Anf that can be easy to do, but I reached a point where one pot of bananas works for now and I will leave them together until I have to separate.

Hummers6, without a picture I don't know that you have a problem. The nature of the beast is to give up older leaves as it grows. That is what becomes the p-stem. Especially if you have 10 still at the top I don't think you have any problems.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2014 at 4:08PM
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I grew the one in the link from seed in the winter of 2012-13, out of 100 seeds this was the only one to germinate. They are difficult to overwinter indoors as the soft tender leaves are an invitation to a spidermite infestation, I've learned from experience that misting daily or even twice daily is a necessity. The main p-stem is now 5 feet, I'm hoping for a good winter and an early plant out in 2015 and maybe I'll get a flag leaf next year.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   November 20, 2014 at 12:23PM
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mine are about 6 feet now.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2014 at 10:03AM
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