Fruiting a dwarf Orinoco in colder climate

jkundertJune 30, 2008

Hi, I'm starting a new adventure this summer: planting banana trees (and palms and citrus for that matter!). I'm germinating some Cheesman's cold hardy and some wild bananas from seed, and will be getting a 12" dwarf orinoco from a nursery in Melbourne, FL later this week. I figure the ornamental bananas should be fine outside (probably after their first winter in however??), but I'd really like the orinoco to bear fruit... so, I'm asking for advice on how best to grow this plant.

First, I'm assuming that this first summer/winter the plant needs to remain potted until April 1st of next spring (when frost danger goes away here). If I'm lucky, I figure that the tree will be close to ready to fruit about then, which would give me enough time for the first crop of bananas to mature. Is this a good assumption?

Second, and perhaps more important: how do I plan for the second generation to fruit? Assuming a pup starts developing, when can I separate it from the mother tree (and how can I do this without disrupting the mother's growth)? Will I then need to go through the process of growing the pup indoors until spring before planting outside, or is it possible to get them to fruit more quickly in this environment?

Third, what are your recommendations for fertilizer to get these guys growing as fast as possible. I know it needs to have lots of potassium, but what sort of balance does it need?

And Fourth, I understand I'll need to mulch the plants, but am a bit confused about how far up the plant to mulch (can I go higher than 2'?) and what type of mulch to use. Should I just use pine chips or something like that, since our soil is kind of alkaline? Or is something that decomposes faster better? Recommendations?

Thanks for any help you can give me regarding growing these fascinating plants! Oh and if you'd like to see my work, feel free to check out a little site I've set up for the palms and bananas here: Growing Palms in the Southeast. I will keep up with both the palms and bananas (and citrus) on this site :)

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Wow lots of questions here. Lets start by saying welcome to what soon will become an addiction. Regarding your dwarf Orinocos, if you want them to fruit next year then be sure and overwinter them indoors. I would say depending on how large they get this year will determine when they will flower next year. Keep in mind you want a flower no later then this time next year to be able to harvest fruit in October. Fertilizing is the key once they reach about 2 1/2 feet tall start applying 10 10 10 liberally about once every 2 to 3 weeks you can increase to something a little stronger as they get bigger. Watering is also important to ensure maximum growth never let your banana dry out. I attempt to water mine at least 15 minutes a day with a drip system sometimes longer if we are in a drought. Once in the ground mulching helps keep in moisture and is a must to keep them alive come winter time. I have not attempted to keep dwarf orinoco alive I will try my regular Orinoco this winter as it will be 15' tall and too large to move this year. I use about 2 to 3" of shredded hardwwod mulch during the summer and in the winter I top that off with 8" of leaves + what ever other decaying foliage I can find. Be sure and cage them so none of the leaves blow away. I would cover your's at least 3 to 4' up with leaves to ensure a healthy plant come spring. Regarding serperating pups, this is an art form that you can either learn by trial and error or you can go to as they have many addicts that can show illustrations on how to seperate a pup. As far as a site for palms I would recommend Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2008 at 12:05AM
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Hey, thanks for the response. I'm sure it will become an addiction--I'm kind of like that anyway ;)
As for your answers, they were just what I was looking for so thanks on that! I'm glad to hear I can just use yard waste (leaves) to over-mulch on top of wood chips come this fall... assuming, of course, my ornamentals get going soon enough that I try wintering them outside this winter.
I just (yesterday) installed a couple of rain barrels, and one of them is being connected to a garden hose I've punched holes in for drip irrigation. Assuming I get some of the ornamentals going soon, I'll definitely use this system to give them pretty much continuous slow watering (assuming it rains enough around here to keep the barrels full!). Otherwise it'll be 15 minutes a day with city water.
Thanks again for the help. I can't wait to get going!

    Bookmark   July 2, 2008 at 12:18PM
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