Get Basjoo's Ready For Cooler Temps.

miraclegrower(6a)September 19, 2008

Here in Kentucky, we are finally seeing cooler temperatures at night dropping into the 50's.

Knowing this, we should get prepared for the winter. My first strategy is to keep the corm underneath the soil as warm as possible.

Purchasing black mulch and piling it up around the root zone. When I am done, I should have a thickness of a good eight inches of black mulch covering my corm around my banana. This should extend at least a foot or more around the plant. While the banana is growing, the mulch will keep the soil warm enough to keep the colder temperatures from inhibiting growth. Dont cover the stem with mulch, just the surrounding root zone area.

With the cooler night time temperatures, I am sure to water in the morning hours around 9 am, I do not water after 12 noon because you want to allow plenty of time for the water to dissipate. Cooler temps mean less energy the plant takes in such as water.

I add a few inches of black mulch, then I sprinkle some Organic fertilizer around the plant under the drip line, then I add a huge heaping of mulch around the plant and water. Never fertilize around the stem, sprinkle around the edge from the longest leaf, this is where the feeder roots are. Remember, corms don't eat, roots do.

I want the corm to store up for the winter, the shorter nights tell the plant to slow down leaf growth, and concentrate on corm size. Of course, the larger the corm, the better chance of winter survival.

When I do this, I always extend my season longer than others in my area. My banana's continue to grow when others slow down or stop all together.

I want these banana's to grow as long as possible, because soon it will be time to winterize them, and that is such a sad time. Happy Gardening!!!

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coniferfreak(z6 PA)

Hi, Thanks for the great tips! I just went out and fertilized mine after reading this! :)

Not sure about your temps there this week, but here in PA they are calling for it to go down to 38 tonight & tomorrow night!! Will this hurt or kill them???

Since this is my first Basjoo summer, I am a bit worried about what (if anything) I should be doing right now. I can't put mulch around them if they are not covered, because it is always SO windy where we are, and it just blows away. So we have stones and river rock around them all year.

At this point, my Basjoos are still growing... in fact they are in the middle of putting out gigantic new leaves as we speak. Do I chop and prepare them for winter already? These 3 Basjoos are about 4 ft. tall to the top leaf (with 3 ft. of actual pseudostem). I plan to overwinter them using the chopped leaf/bucket/tarp method.

I would love to hear your opinion, and really appreciate some good advice from any experts here! Thanks!

    Bookmark   October 3, 2008 at 11:03AM
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gardenguy_(z6b PA)

Here, it is also starting to get cool as well. I don't mind the coolness, but prefer hot humid conditions year round. I know that even in most parts of Florida, you don't get hot humid conditions year round. As for bananas, leave all the leaves on the plant until it's time to winterize. Temps in the mid to high 30's will not even come close to killing bananas. Frosting doesn't kill mature banana trees ( unless maybe a very small pup but sometimes not even then). What kills the banana totally is when the corm freezes. When this happens, there is nothing that can be done, except to dig up the rotted corm and start with a new banana. You would have to have an exposed banana plant outside with temps consistently in the 20's or lower. Cold enough to freeze the ground, which is known as a hard freeze for a day or two. Some people let the first frost or two nip at the leaves, then cut them all off, saving the stalk to wrap. If digging out the bananas to store in a cool dark enviroment such as a garage or basement for the winter, I leave on the top most leaf to give it a head start the next spring. As for what miraclegrower said, it's seems as if he can continue the growth of the plant by keeping the corms and root system warm with black mulch. The black mulch absorbs more heat from the sun because of the dark color of the mulch. Once the corm stops growing because of low temps, fertilizing it won't help. This is when you want to go into the "storage" mode. I plan on digging up my ice creams and dwarf orinocos to store in the basement and wrapping the basjoo.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2008 at 12:07AM
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Basjoo's are incredible plants, they can tolerate many weather related conditions. When I read about people digging them up, I know they are serious about growing Banana's like myself.
When Basjoo's become mature, I have seen some huge corms, weighing several hundred pounds!!! The root systems are huge, stretching as far as 30 feet away from the plant searching for food. Once established, its extremely hard to kill, giving the right conditions. The corms keep growing, and adding more pups.

Using the bucket then covering with a tarp should work also if mulch cannot be used. Although I would try to use mulch as a blanket if I could. Try using the bark mulch, rather than the cypress, as the bark tends to be heavier in windy conditions.
Once frosty conditions begin, I usually cut the stem down around a foot, cover with chopped leaves, mulch, as this breaks down, it also adds heat to the ground.
Gardenguy is right, these basjoo's are extremely tough, I have never lost a basjoo in the Kentucky winters. They get bigger and bigger every year. I will post some pics in the future.
If you have a 3 foot stem in your first year, then congratulations!!!! Most basjoo's grow maybe a foot or two in the first year. Your corm should be big enough to handle its first winter with proper insulation.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2008 at 12:57AM
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This is a blurred picture, sorry. The far right shows what the banana should look like when covered properly.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2008 at 1:46AM
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coniferfreak(z6 PA)

Awesome info, thanks!! I am so happy to hear that the height of my basjoos is a good sign! :) Yes, I have been watering and fertilizing like crazy all summer, so I guess it paid off. One even has 2 new pups coming up. Although I would assume at this point they will not live through the winter... which is no biggie, I'm sure they will make more pups next summer, and I just don't feel like digging them up.

They are warning that we could get our first real frost tonight (we haven't had it yet). But I will take your advice and let the frost nip at the leaves and then cut them off as they die. When would you say is the typical time that you usually do "the chop" (to the stem that is)? Do they usually hang in there til around Thanksgiving or even later? Or do you usually find yourself doing the winterization sometime in October?

    Bookmark   October 7, 2008 at 12:54AM
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