I bought one on a whim at the local Home Depot the other day. Will it overwinter outdoors in east bay CA? Specifically Contra Costa County.
I really don't know how cold you get there but it depends on what banana you bought.
Yes, typically all varieties of bananas will overwinter in the bay area and valley. In sacramento, we get a light frost which will damage the leaves. If this happens, just cut the leaves and leave the pseudotrunk. In the spring the banana will grow up from the height it obtained the year before. It is possible in coastal CA for the banana's to not loose any leaves.
I too live in Contra Costa. I have may cold hardy types which make it through the winter. It all depends on what type you bought. Home depot usually carries Dwarf Cavendish, which die to the ground each year. They come back in the spring but take too long to recover and will never fruit. A good one to try is the Raja Puri. I keep mine protected from frost in pots over the first winter, then drop them in the ground early spring. By the end of fall you should expect to see a 5'ft trunk and many pups which will lose it's leaves from frost come winter, but start growing come spring and bloom possibly by summer.
James: Do you know of a good source for Raja Puri? I suspect also that the Home Depot plant is Dwarf Cavendish which I suppose I will keep because now I have it. Sigh. I would like bananas, however. My tropicals/succulents are on an east patio with full sun for alot of the day but protected by Redwoods (pruned up high and well) to let in the sun but not the colder winds during winter.
mary11: A good source for Raja Puri is Going Bananas in Florida. For about $20, they will send you a good size healthy plant. I've gotten a few different varieties from them. Let me know if you can't find one, I may have a few pups by fall. The Raja Puri loves the tri-valley heat. Grows quickly with a stout trunk. Here's a link to a picture of one of mine.
Other good varieties to try are Cardaba, Dwarf Orinoco, Dwarf Namwah and Misi Luki. You could keep you Dwarf Cavendish in a pot or plant it close to the house. It will die to the ground each year but profusely grow back each spring/summer. It sounds like you have a nice protected area.
James: The photo of your banana tree is exactly the one I've been looking for as my neighbor (who I don't know) has a gorgeous one in a gorgeous container on his front patio. I'm going to contact Going Bananas to try to get one of these as I haven't seen anything close to it at the local upscale nurseries (as a matter of fact, the only banana I found was at Home Depot with no tag on it). Thanks so much for your information and help.