How to dig up for overwintering?

ILuvGinger(7b)August 28, 2005

I've never planted nanas in the ground before this year so I've never had to dig them up.

Is there anything special I need to know about it? What happens if the roots got very big and I end up cutting them with the shovel?

I do NOT want to kill these guys. They're worth digging up and planting again every year just to be able to look outside and see nanas in Maryland. And of course to eat the fruit one day!

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pittsburghpalmguy(z6b PA)

I lifted my bananas last year with great success. Their root structure is dense and rather compact. I dug about a 2 gallon rootball for a 4 foot plant. You want to catch them before you get to heavy a frost or the plant turns to mush. If this happens cut the "trunk" low to the ground and use a fungacide. If not the mush tends to rot down into the rhizome (bulb). Don't plant outside in the spring until after the frosts pass of you may have to use the same technique. I put one out too early, but even being cut to the ground in the spring it now stands nearly 8' tall. My others, that went out later, are around 10' and very full. I've added many new varietys this year. If you have room and can keep them alive in the house you'll have a great head start next year. P.S. When you do take them out next year some of the winter leaves may sunburn. Don't worry the new leaves that emerge will be hearty.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2005 at 10:06PM
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gardenguy_(z6b PA)

Nice to see a Pittsburgher in here. I also have some bananas growing here as well. My questions are as follows.

1. How do ice cream and dwarf orinoco fare inside the house in the pot over the winter? Just this year, I obtained these 2 bananas. Being that I got them in the mid to late summer, I intend to keep them in a pot, watered and in a sunny window till next spring when they go into the ground. Are they like super dwarf cavendish bananas in which the main stem tends to die back while tons of little pups shoot up?

2. Can ice cream bananas be dug up in the fall and stored in a cool place for the winter? I know that dwarf orinocos can be, but ice cream?

    Bookmark   August 30, 2005 at 10:35PM
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ILuvGinger(7b)

I had two babies last year to put out. An ice cream and a velvet pink. I grew the pink from seed and it was getting up there in size... maybe about a foot which was bigger than the ice cream I bought!

I put them out after all danger of frost, when we had pretty consistant warm weather. Then it got cold and rainy and the nanas were struggling just to stay alive. Then they got mowed over by the garden company even though I had them caged... but that's a different story.

Is there a website that I can refer to for the date that plants like these can be put outside in MD?

    Bookmark   August 31, 2005 at 5:02AM
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ILuvGinger(7b)

Oh, forgot to say that all these guys are going to get potted up and NOT cut back. I'm so excited about next year!

Gardenguy, I had problems keeping my potted bananas indoors due to not meeting the humidity requirements. You might encounter the same problem in a house.

I didn't really find a solution except to spray daily, put river rocks on the top of the pots and group with other plants.

I'm going to try a spray this year that seals in moisture.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2005 at 5:06AM
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wolflover(z7 OK)

I dig my bananas when the night temps start dipping down into the 40's. Usually in November, but always before we get our first freeze. On the extremely large plants, I cut all the leaves off except the main, newest leaf, so I'll be able to lift them. Usually the root balls are small enough to fit in small plastic bags. Most will fit in Wal*Mart bags. For the largest plants I sometimes use dogfood sacks. I wrap the roots with several layers of newspapers, then put them in a plastic bag, with wadded up newspaper around the top of the bag, then tie or tape it closed up next to the trunk. I then cut a bunch of slits in the bags for air circulation. Then I store the plants dormant in my cellar. Many people store them in the crawl space under their homes, or in cool basements. I usually store about 30 bananas this way, and I've yet to lose a plant over winter. I've used this technique for several years now. They store very well and when spring comes, you can plant them directly back in the ground and you'll still have the tall "trunks" and have a head start on size.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2005 at 2:32PM
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ILuvGinger(7b)

That's a REALLY good way Wolflover! I'm too paranoid to try that with my "babies" but I'm going to try it next year on pups (here's hoping!).

Would a cellar or garage be warmer in winter? We're both in z7.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2005 at 2:53AM
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Paul3(UK)

Gardenguy,

I think you must be my musa growing doppleganger as I have exactly the same query about the two musas you mentioned.

My plants are nowhere near big enough to be taken out of pots and put in hibernation. I daren't keep them in my house, fearing DC type die back. I'm thinking keeping them cool but I'm wondering about light levels. Hope yours make it through.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2005 at 2:10PM
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fglavin(Knoxville, TN)

If overwintering them under the house, or in the cellar or garage, don't worry about cutting too many roots. The roots will die anyway once severed. In fact, I clean ALL of the roots off of the corm in the Fall. I will have pictures this Fall detailing my method...stay tuned!!!! I have some humongous corms to go under the house this year.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2005 at 8:01PM
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fglavin(Knoxville, TN)

Going back to my last message...what I meant to type in there was that I WILL be cutting all of the roots and dirt (

And here's what they looked like at the end of March this Spring, after dragging them out of my crawl space.

Some of the leaves were still green after 5 months of being underneath the house. Notice also that all of the roots in the second photo are DEAD. They started to regrow new roots as soon as they were placed in the ground.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2005 at 8:19PM
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gurley157fs(zone 7/8sc)

fglavin, thanks so much for showing the photos. Having the visual really helps to figure out what to do AND what to expect.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2005 at 10:59PM
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gardenguy_(z6b PA)

fglavin, thanks for the photos. This is the ONLY way for us northerners to get height as well as a chance at a bloom. For me, height is MOST important now. I want something tall. This is why I bought the Ice Cream variety. Can they be stored in this manner?

Also, is there a general consensus that dictates why the banana should be kept inside a pot due to it's smaller size or uprooted and stored in a cool area for the winter? I know the size of the corm has something to do with this.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2005 at 11:06PM
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fglavin(Knoxville, TN)

Not sure about ice cream personally, but I've heard of others doing it successfully. I'll let you know next Spring, LOL!

Mass of the corm is important, but also of the actual pseudostem, in order for them to go dormant for several months. That being said, I had some pseudostems come through fine with almost no corm last year .

I'm still learning as I go. You can read the internet all day, post on forums, read books, etc., but in the end, trial and error is the best method to figure things out.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2005 at 11:53PM
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gardenguy_(z6b PA)

Trial and error is the reason I ask you fglavin, LOL! : )

You have tried things that I've yet to try. Prior to reading these forums, I had no idea that a banana plant could be dug up and stored in a cool dry location, out of the soil without watering. I usually keep an eye out for your posts. Good pictures and advice. This year, the only thing that I will be trying is leaving a basjoo in the ground. I have 2 other basjoos in pots. One was planted in the back of the garden with too much other crap and did not attain sufficient height. ( less than 6 inches tall) The basjoo in the ground now, was planted near the front and attained a height of 3-4 feet tall. Being that this is my first year to overwinter basjoos in the ground, I meant to have 2 basjoos in the ground and one in a pot in the house over winter as insurance. Now I will have 2 basjoos in the house for this winter only. The ice cream and dwarf orinoco are too small to plant in ground now and dig up for the winter. These 2 will come in the house in pots as well.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2005 at 12:22AM
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dan112(S Ontario z6)

I've read on some similar posts that people cut the stalk of the banana and some cut the leaves except for the newest emerging one before winter storage. I notice that you, Fglavin, have just left the entire banana and cleared up the corm. Is there any advantage to cutting the stalk or removing leaves? I have a 6 foot Zebrina that I want to overwinter in a garage this year.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2005 at 9:47AM
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fglavin(Knoxville, TN)

You don't have to keep the newest leaf there, it just provides a little headstart for the banana to work with come Spring. Any little bit of greenery is helpful for the plant to start producing food to grow. In my case though, only about half of the leaves remained green for the entire winter under the house. If space is an issue, and it will be for me this year, cut the leaf off. I know of a friend that cut the stalks down to a few feet and stored that way, and they had a very hard time getting going in the Spring. Not sure exactly why. If you have the room, I would recommend NOT cutting the stalk down any. I'm also not going to remove any pups this winter before storing. I want huge corms next Spring. Not sure why I capitalize the word "Spring" and not "winter" either...

    Bookmark   September 5, 2005 at 3:02PM
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dan112(S Ontario z6)

hehe .. I don't even like seeing the word winter so the less attention you bring to it the better. Especially after the amazing summer we've had this year. So do you mean that you are just going to leave the pups attached to the corm when storing. I have about 6 on my Zebrina and don't really want them all overwintering in the house so if that works I think I'll do the same.
Thanks for the info.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2005 at 4:26PM
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fglavin(Knoxville, TN)

Yep, going to leave all the pups that I can on the mother corms this Fall. The bigger the corm, the faster the bananas grow! I have some pups from this Spring from mother corms that are pushing 7 feet of pseudostem now, getting ready to bloom next year hopefully. Cutting the corm on these would just slow them down next Spring, and with a shorter growing season, I need every advantage I can get in order to get fruit. The only exceptions that I'll make are when I just can't fit them through my crawl space door!

    Bookmark   September 8, 2005 at 12:10AM
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johnnyroe(6/ky)

WOW, This is great. My first time using this forum
I am very new to this and have 2 great banana plants at least 8-9 ft tall. Are the small plants growing near the plant the PUPS? Can I dig up the pups to plant them in other areas of my yard? Should I do that now or next year.And please tell me how to if I can. Thanks

    Bookmark   September 11, 2005 at 11:47AM
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Downeastmd(7bMd)

Frank, I have 7 bananas that I am going to have to dig up here soon, the storage under the house sounds like the best option for me, but the one thing that bothers me is usually when the first cold spell arrives it usually brings a few resident field mice under the house too. do you think they will attempt to dine on my bananas ?? What precautions do you think would help deter the mice. Thanks everybody for all the great ideas. Paul

    Bookmark   September 11, 2005 at 9:51PM
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ILuvGinger(7b)

I wonder why that hasn't come up before Downeastmd. Excellent question.

A crawlspace would be warmer than a garage because it's underground, right?

    Bookmark   September 12, 2005 at 12:02AM
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Racer968(z5 WI)

Has anyone stored their plants with more than one leave on for the winter?
I would like to give them a better start come spring but don't know if that would lessen the chance of survival while they are dormant.

DowneastMD,
Moth balls should keep the mice away if you don't mind the smell.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2005 at 9:38AM
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Downeastmd(7bMd)

ILuvginger: My crawlspace I believe is warmer than my garage in the dead of winter. Racer968: Thanks for the idea with the mothballs.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2005 at 9:53PM
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fglavin(Knoxville, TN)

Hmmm...never had the problems with mice. Mousetraps, maybe? LOL. Mothballs sounds like a good idea too.

I've got a couple of tall orinocos that I'm going to leave several leaves on this Winter under the house. One leaf stayed green all Winter on several with not much corm, so I think a few should stay green on plant with large corm.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2005 at 12:32PM
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Racer968(z5 WI)

Fglavin,
I'm keeping as many leaves that stay on on the trip down to the basment too. Just in hope of having a better looking, stronger plant in spring. My wife won't be happy that they'll be in the gym down there. It just happens to be the coolest room in the house. :D

    Bookmark   September 15, 2005 at 1:10PM
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geekgranny(NC Tx USA zone8a)

fglavin, question about spring planting. BTW.. I'm going to dig out 4-5 mature bajoos (and potting up pups for greehouse) from a huge pot.The pseudostems are 5-6 ft tall. This will be my first time. Last winter I left then in the container but after speaking to the person I got them from last summer I'm thinking they have been in this container way too long (several years). BTW... it is going to be quite a show with me, geekgranny, and my tiny helper friend attempting this on a pot that weighs many hundreds of lbs.!!! Probably should video it.

Question: Replanting in spring. I'm concerned about wind. There is no place out here that is totally protected from wind. Where I plan on planting them in ground is very exposed to fierce spring winds. I'm not too concerned about after they establish roots but during the bare period .... Should I stake them like one does for a small top heavy tree, using hose wrapped guy wires?
Thanks, geekgranny

    Bookmark   September 16, 2005 at 10:59AM
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chandu(z8 SC Irmo)

fglavin,
thanks for your insight and photos. I am in 7B (Columbia SC) and have 2 small orinocos (2' each, one has 4 pups other has none). I was almost sure to wrap the plants in bubblewrap and leave them in the ground. Now (after reading this thread) I am leaning towards storing them in the "crawl space" (to save the pups). Our house does not have a cellar, garage is going to be occupied by cars that leaves the crawl space for storage. I am afraid the stems could freeze under the house as the crawl space is ventilated and is located above ground.
Outside emperature in my area goes as low as 15°F. Garage stays at toasty 38-40°F, I cannot guess how low it would go in the crawl space?
Any suggestions. Thanks.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2005 at 11:21AM
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fglavin(Knoxville, TN)

geekgranny - I would stake them up in the Spring. The bigger the corm, the better off you are in terms of the plant blowing over in the wind. That being said, my plants have been in the ground since late March here, and I got a 15 minute thunderstorm on Thursday that knocked several plants around pretty good. A couple are leaning at about 45 degrees. That little storm did more damage than Katrina did when it came through TN! Bananas just aren't very wind tolerant in general, with the exception of musella lasiocarpa. M. basjoo is particularly susceptible to wind damage to its leaves.

chandu - That's a tough one. It really depends on how much corm you have. And is that 2 feet overall height or pseudostem height? Orinocos are very hardy bananas, but it is generally advisable to have a decent sized corm to leave in the ground for Winter. All of the ones that I stored were about 3 feet or more of pseudostem. Some had barely any corm at all though, and still did just fine under the house all Winter. I would think that as long as they are kept completely dark, dry, and in your garage at those temps (with no freezing), they may do just fine. My crawl space is also ventilated and half above ground. I am in a zone 7 climate, last years low temperature was 11F here at my house, and my stems didn't freeze. I did throw one of those black, landscaper's breathable tarps over them (not sure what you call it, lol), but I don't think that really made any difference. If you have any doubts, put a remote thermometer in there to check the temps on cold nights. I also find that trash bags full of dry leaves are my best friends in the Winter. Just place a couple of them in front of the vents in the crawl space if you think it is getting too cold there. Kind of renders the vents useless though for their intended purpose. There, was that clear as mud? LOL! Hey man, orinocos are a dime a dozen. If they don't make it, start off with some new plants in the Spring.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2005 at 2:28AM
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chandu(z8 SC Irmo)

fglavin,
thankyou for you insightful suggestion. I hope for the plants to grow for quite some time. I am regularly watering and feeding them, the second plant has thrown out 2 pups and looks happy. I will store them in the garage. Should I store the stems with pups still attached?
I have doubts about them being orinoco (could be basjoo.....home depot labels are not very reliable) the new leaf always shows a red midrib and some reddish tinge in patches - which vanishes as the leaf ages. But based on the forum contributors, conclusive ID is possible after it flowers (and I want it to flowe).
Thanks again.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2005 at 10:10AM
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Racer968(z5 WI)

Store them with pups attached. That will keep the corm bigger and it will have more energy stored for the winter.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2005 at 10:08AM
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maesy(z7 Switzerland)

fglavin, I have enough space in my garage and I could leave the leaves on the plant. But is it helpful for the corm an the whole plant to survive through winter or not? I could even put some in pots and let them stay dry until spring turns up.
what do you think?

    Bookmark   September 28, 2005 at 5:26PM
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gardenguy_(z6b PA)

Leaves on all plants are what they use for energy and food production. This process is called photosynthesis. I think the whole idea about removing the leaves is to force the plant into hibernation. You want the corm to use as less energy as possible.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2005 at 9:16PM
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jbcarr(7 VA)

fglavin (and others) Would the roots stay alive if kept with a small root ball, or is this only an invitation to rot? What about a 3 foot tall plant in a pot already? I was thinking about sticking a couple in the crawl space in the pot, as I have the room for them to be upright. I'll probably use the root prune technique to be safe.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2005 at 7:49AM
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lynn_d(Z5 PA)

I am a newbie with bananas, only the second summer with them. I have a musa basjoo that over wintered in the gardens for me this past year (dumb luck) but I bought one at a local nursery that was labelled "Banana"! I don't know if it is hardy here, and have it in a large container. It did great! It's nearly 8 feet tall now! I cannot keep it growing thru winter tho I would love to, so will have to pull it to store for the winter. Our basement gets cool but not cold, I doubt it ever drops below 60. Will pulling the plant as fglavin describes still work for me? I would hate to lose the plant, it has done so well and has tons of pups on it. I could use the garage but it can get pretty cold out there.....into the high 30's if we get a real cold spell.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2005 at 9:25AM
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sandy0225(z5 Indiana)

Lynn D
Your banana that is 8 feet tall right now will shrink over winter at 55-60 degrees and you will have a banana stump to plant out in the spring. That is too warm for winter storage, because I did the same thing last year. I had a 10 footer that I had to lay down on the floor because it was so tall, but it shriveled up over winter and got lighter and smaller until it was just a stump basically in the spring. I did plant it out and got 3 pups that grew to 5-6 feet this year. You need to find a colder place. Maybe you could put it in the garage, and put a heater in there if you get a real cold spell?

    Bookmark   October 4, 2005 at 8:09PM
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lynn_d(Z5 PA)

Thanks, Sandy, that is what I needed to know. I will try the garage. Maybe a good halfway point would be to pot up one of the pups, just in case...... I will try the garage with the heater. Thanks!

    Bookmark   October 5, 2005 at 11:04AM
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silverdolphin77_gmail_com

The best practical nanner care info I've come across lately! fglavin, you seem to be a wealth of nanner info! Here is a question for you or anyone else with an answer: I have dug up many of my Musa basjoo's for winter and seem just fine with the process so far, however I had a (Chinese)Musella Lasiocarpa in a large pot for the last two years and decided to unpot it for the first time. Come to find out the poor thing was rootbound. I treasure this one particularly as they are expensive to get. It is one big knarled root mess! Should I fear trimming all roots off for winter storage and end up shocking it to death? Perhaps just trim for a normal root manicure? Also would being rootbound be the cause of it never blooming? Thank you all for your input!

    Bookmark   October 5, 2005 at 10:26PM
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fglavin(Knoxville, TN)

maesy: I have never left more than one leaf on a p-stem for storage purposes. I think I will try to leave three leaves on a couple of plants that look very close to fruiting time right now. The more leaves the plant has when a bloom comes, the more fruit it will produce. Gardenguy could be right...it's just an idea, and something I want to experiment with this Winter.

jbcarr: The only banana I stored in a pot under the house last Winter was a SDC with a large corm already. I cut all the leaves off and laid the pot sideways under the house. It choked a few Spring leaves before growing normally again. The roots will die on a plant stored bareroot, regardless of how many there are. Just make sure the corm is dried out before storing.

LynnD: Sandy is right. Stick it out in the garage, raised above the floor if possible (like on a pallet, or some wood planks), and cover it with a sheet if it gets real cold. You really only need to worry if it gets below 32F.

SilverD: You can take all of the roots off of your musella lasiocarpa and it will be fine, as long as you store it somewhere cool, dark, and dry. Musellas store exeedingly well! I had no problems, with even some very small plants. I also stored 1 in the house, without roots, in a pot of dry peat, in a dark closet. It was just a little below room temperature in the closet, and the musella came through just fine. Very tough little plants!!

I haven't seen this post in quite some time. I had no idea people were asking me questions, as it isn't even my post, so sorry for the delay. I will be digging my plants in the next couple of weeks, and plan to have a photoessay posted online when I do. I'll probably post it on the bananas.org forum, an infinitely superior forum to this one in my opinion (although I do like this one too). A good thing about bananas.org is that you can subscribe to a thread, and receive an email anytime someone responds (as opposed to just the original poster in this forum).

    Bookmark   October 18, 2005 at 6:36PM
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last1earth

Hello, I had a question too, how do you guys store bananas already growing in pots? I think it is a small gallon or 2 sized pot.
Do I bring it in before frost and just stick it in my basement until spring? Or after?
Thanks guys!

    Bookmark   October 23, 2005 at 4:47PM
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mugsie1(Z7 PA)

fglavin - I live about 1 hours drive north of Philly and since you are in PA also I thought you'd be a good person to ask. I am trying musa for the first time this year. I started 5 seeds of sikkimensis and they're all up about 6 - 7" tall. They will overwinter in the house. I also have a basjoo about 12-14" tall which I purchased and it too in is the house. I would like to overwinter them inside for planting outside in the spring. 1) what type of light levels do they need (I have them under 2 40w flourescent tubes in a shop light fixture now) is that enough? 2) when should I begin fertilizing them? 3) When can they be placed outside in the spring? Thanks in advance for the help....

    Bookmark   November 11, 2005 at 8:05PM
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jamesco

I was just passing through and reading this fascinating junk. I am one of those gardeners who has kicks of certain genera, in which I get all the information I can, grow it, and move on; thus having a new installment in my gardening history. I happen to be having dreams about Musa, Musella, and Ensete presently. The spark for this kick was a nice M. sumatrana 'Rojo' that I have in a pot.

Anyhow, I just wanted to elaborate on two things above posted:
The breathable landscape tarp junk (if I'm talking about the same thing) is to keep the banana dry for the winter, as there is a school of thought that thinks overwintering has less to do with temperature and more with drainage during dormancy. (This thinking is applied to palms, passifloras, cactus...) I know a fellow here in Colorado who uses it over his palms outdoors. He says the key is keeping things dry. I can't argue with his half a dozen species of palm trees.

The other thing is the reason behind cutting off leaves: Leaves transpire water, which depletes the corm/root/etc. When these buggers are dormant, they aren't exactly soaking the water up to replenish that.

Now, I'll let the noble experts answer those new questions. -And I would just like to comment how invaluable the passionate experts are in the proliferation of this fine hobby.

James

    Bookmark   November 11, 2005 at 11:48PM
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staceybeth(7 MA)

If I keep the Musa in a pot, can I just bring it into my garage wrapped for the winter?

    Bookmark   May 15, 2008 at 10:09AM
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lucysgotagreenpaw

I live in Kyle,down the street from Austin, Tx. I didn't have time to do anything before 1st freeze so of course my banana trees froze. this happened last year (zone 8)and I cut leaves off but not the main stump and they did grow back. I cut the stump in spring but made a mess of it. Could you suggest a proper blade or saw to use on the stump for a cleaner cut. and do you think it would be okay to dig them up at this stage coz the one thing I do worry about is the fact that we could have a colder winter than usual. we are known for our crazy weather.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2010 at 1:57PM
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layton04

I live in northeast ark. Ive tried ice cream bananas dorment under my house they all rotted. For past few years i have had alot of luck with orinco apple ca gold bananas i have not lost one of these banana in 2 years. I dig them before the freeze in Nov i let the corm dry for a week icut the roots off carfull not cut the corm i lay wood boards down under my house and cover them with straw these has worked well for me the last few years.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 9:50AM
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layton04

I live in northeast ark. Ive tried ice cream bananas dorment under my house they all rotted. For past few years i have had alot of luck with orinco apple ca gold bananas i have not lost one of these banana in 2 years. I dig them before the freeze in Nov i let the corm dry for a week icut the roots off carfull not cut the corm i lay wood boards down under my house and cover them with straw these has worked well for me the last few years.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 9:51AM
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lomodor(6)

this is my 4th yr with nanners..ive sure learned alot over that time.. im getting better every yr..i think..LOL :)
my 2 largest root balls were with a huge ensete maurelli,and a kandarian.. i probably over try to get as many roots as i can..but u cant help sever many..with the 2 big ones..the hole left after digging out was over 7 ft across..and 3 ft deep.. sigh..both were over 14ft tall..hopefully this yr taller !! i cut back all the leaves..but i think im going to do what guy in N utah does..cut Pstem back..one nice thing with nanners..they are tough ..and come back . i have avoided the rot on the pstem in overwintering (inside) with a dusting of cinnamon.. it acts as a desicant..i buy it cheap at discount store..

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 7:52PM
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