ID and Advice for Winter

ejr2005(Eastern MA)September 30, 2008

I bought my first banana plant this year and am now wondering what to do with it this winter. I've read lots here but am still not sure.

I guess for starters I should try to figure out what kind it is. Here are a couple of pictures:

It's in the sunroom now. Not sure if I should leave it there and try to fend off the spider mites all winter. Also if I do that if I should fertilize it regularly. I think you are supposed to cut down on the water.

Or should I let it go dormant. I'm in eastern Massachusetts. Our basement is too warm and unheated garage probably too cold at times. We do have a crawl space under the sunroom but I'll have to start checking the temps. I brought the plant in a couple of weeks ago when the night time temp got into the 30's. I wondering whether it should go outside again til it gets colder to start it going into dormancy. If so, how long should I keep it outside? As you can see in the picture it's getting a new leaf now.

I'm pretty new to gardening. I have kept a couple of Brugmansia's alive (barely) for two seasons in the sunroom, but eventually had to cut them down to get rid of the aphid infestations. Although I'd love to turn our sunroom into a tropical garden room this winter, I don't know if I have it in me to fight aphids and spider mites! I also have a "corn" plant (don't know the real name yet) and Jasmine to deal with:

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jrzgurl(9)

Last yr I bought 2 musa's & planted them outside in pots. When fall came I brought 1 pot in the house,the other 1 I dug up &wrapped in newspaper & kept in the shed. The 1 in the shed died. The house 1 survived all winter. I didn't water as much, then brought it out in May. I took pix in Aug & again today.I have about 5pups which I don't think I will divide until spring. I will be bringing it in again soon. lt="Banana 8/08">

    Bookmark   October 1, 2008 at 1:33PM
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tropicallvr(11)

The first banana is Musa Dwarf Cavendish(not cold hardy), and the second one from jrzgurl is Musa Basjoo (very cold hardy).
Not sure what would be best for overwintering, but safe is ussaly better than sorry, maybe try to make room inside in a window.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2008 at 3:46PM
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ejr2005(Eastern MA)

tropicallvr - just to clarify, is my banana a Musa Dwarf Cavendish? Not sure because jrzgurl has 3 photos, though I guess rereading it she has 2 Musas. That would be great to know what kind it is!

    Bookmark   October 2, 2008 at 12:39PM
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gardenguy_(z6b PA)

tropicallvr has a great eye. I was going to say the same thing, but tropic beat me to it.

ejr2005, your banana does almost certainly look like a Dwarf Cavendish. The term musa is part of a genus meaning a class, kind, or group marked by common characteristics or by one common characteristic. So musa is a broad term. One way to tell full size varieties and dwarf is by looking at the stems on the banana stalk in reference to how far apart they grow from each other. Full size varieties tend to have long slender branches farther spaced apart from each other. My Super Dwarf Cavendish has stems that are fat and broad and grow very close to each other height wise. On to your questions.

jrzgurl posted pics of what looks like 2 different potted bananas. Both pots look like basjoo bananas.

It wouldn't hurt to leave it in the sunroom. Also you could store it in a darker, cooler room as well but water less often.

Do not fertilize your bananas in the winter. Keep watering to a minimum. If you keep your banana in a sun-lit room then water only when the top inch or two of soil in the pot is dry. You can also store the pot in an unlit room that is cooler (not freezing) and water once a month if that.

You can keep it outside till just before the first frost. A frost will not kill your banana, but being that it's a cavendish variety, they do not like any kind of freezing. A frost will tinge the leaves and turn it brown like the bottom leaf in your picture, but thats about it. The plant will survive. Tomato plants are MUCH more sensitive to frosts than bananas.

As for the aphids, you may want to read this thread HERE.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2008 at 12:47AM
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