Pics of putting 12-14' Ensete bananas to bed for winter, zone 4.

arctictropical(Z4)October 8, 2012

The tropics have ended here in the cold mountain valleys of northern Utah. It has been in the teens and low twenties the last four nights. Everything tropical is now toast! It was 18 degrees last night. Each year I dig them up and store them in a basement room with no light or heat. Here's pics of how I put my large Ensete bananas to bed each year.

Bananas before the big freeze:

Banana plant chopped off to a 4' stump:

Top of chopped off banana:

Potted banana plant (15 gallon nursery pot). It weighs several hundred pounds.

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knotz(8/PNW SWWA)

Again, thanks soo much!!...I'll be doing mine like this next year...I'm super stoked to plant 2 of the 4 in the ground to see how they do.

Stay warm!!

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 11:38PM
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Hi Knotz. You'll be surprised how much better they do in the ground. Just give them lot's of nitrogen next year!

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 12:01AM
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What kind of soil do you use? What do you amend it with to get that kind of growth?

    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 8:18PM
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Islandbreeze, the soil is common ordinary garden soil. The only thing I gave them is nitrogen (Milorganite and ammonium sulfate). That's it! Good luck.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 5:45PM
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grabmebymyhandle(6 Kentucky)

Arctic those are impressive, how long you been huallin em in and out like that?
Looks like you have quite the tropical garden there.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2012 at 2:22AM
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hey artic..long time.. ya..i have all my tropicals out now too.. i think u got the hard freeze before we did..only by a week though..:(
you really cut your ensete way down.. is that your regular
practice?? i cut the leaves all off..and leave much of the
top of the plant..but cut the last leaf off..
also..with maurelli i dont pot up..i either spray once a month with kelp water..or wrap the roots with barely damp
towel.. i find with smaller nanners i better sucess potting them up..and with my glaucums..
i keep mine around 55F..they stay in dormancy..then mid spring seems temps in basement naturally warm up..and nanners start to grow again..
how was your summer up there?? it was so dry in ut county..i watered all the going to add more coir
next yr..yr i used alot ..seemed to help the soil retain
moisture pretty good.. i have good no problem there..
great pics man !!!!!

    Bookmark   October 19, 2012 at 11:33AM
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grabmebymyhandle... I've been hauling them into the basement to go dormant each winter for 10-15 years. I forget how long it's been! Lomodor, Yes, I cut my ensete down just so they are not so horribly heavy to move. They are too heavy to lift as it is. I must drag them across my lawn down to some sliding glass doors entering my basement. Then I put them on some plastic sheeting and drag them across carpet into my food storage room where it's not heated nor lit. With the hot summer we had, they really took off and grew. Yeah, I probably watered them more than normal. Thank goodness my artesian well water is free!

    Bookmark   October 20, 2012 at 11:06PM
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Maybe part of the secret is potting them up like you do. I always stored them bare root, but I've never had ensetes grow like yours do...If you are able to maintain live roots by potting them in soil, then they can spend less time sending out roots and more time growing huge.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 11:32PM
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Hi islandbreeze. Having them potted up just makes it easier to pull them out and start them growing in the heat and light in Spring. I simply start watering them in their pots and they start growing. But I just shove them in their pots in Fall, so I'm not sure how much their roots are kept healthy. Since I only water them once during winter, I assume the roots are more or less dormant as well. All I know is the hot summer daytime weather, lots of water, and extra fertilizer sure did the job this year!

    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 12:17AM
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well all my tropicals are in.. yea !!! and not to
soon.. were going to have some real chilly weather here
next couple days.. 20sF sigh. im missing summer already..

    Bookmark   October 24, 2012 at 9:35PM
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Lomodor.... I woke up to 3 inches of snow on my lawn yesterday morning. YUCK! It's still snowing. Tomorrow morning we could see about 15 degrees when this weather system moves out. The tropics have definitely vanished. Time to get the snow board out. And I haven't covered my outdoor palms yet. They look pretty sad.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2012 at 11:39AM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

Hi Arctic,

Unbelievable! I'm sitting here in Florida with an Ensete that grew only about two feet this past year. I am still taller than the plant. I want mine to look like yours! Questions:

1) In what form is the ammonium sulfate? Granule? Water soluble? If it is granule, do you put it in the hole when planting? How about the Milorganite?

2) Or is all of the fertilization done after planting from the top?

3) What is your application rate and frequency of application of both Milorganite and Ammonium Sulfate?

Carol in Jacksonville

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 10:01PM
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HI love-the-yard. Florida! Yours should be twice as big as mine! My fertilizer is common granular ammonium sulfate... the kind you can buy in any garden store. I simply side dress the bananas about 3-4 times during the growing season after I have planted them, and use a garden hose to dissolve both the ammonium sulfate and Milorganite. I don't measure the amount, but I'd guess I put at least a quart or two worth of ammonium sulfate around each plant each time I side dress it. Maybe more. The Milorganite.... maybe a 1/2 gallon worth, since you can't burn the plants with Milorganite. It's alot, but they love it! Good luck....

    Bookmark   March 21, 2013 at 3:24PM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

I know, I know! I feel the shame.

Thanks for taking the time to post your application rates and frequencies. That is about ten times the rate I applied here... and I do realize that milorganite doesn't burn... so there will definitely be a step-uppage here!

I have aluminum sulfate and magnesium sulfate but no ammonium sulfate in my gardening supplies. I will have to scout that out. I always keep plenty of Milorganite on hand, so that is no problem.

Thank you again for spilling all of your secrets. I greatly appreciate your advice and boy, who would think that someone in UTAH would set the bar?! I am in awe.


    Bookmark   March 21, 2013 at 4:58PM
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Thanks Carol. You are too kind. All my tropicals are exposed to lots of experiments! So far the experiments have worked well. After 20-25 years of growing palm trees outside.... everything else seems easy!

    Bookmark   March 23, 2013 at 12:11AM
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I had GREAT luck with my ensete maurelii here last year too. I ordered it about a year ago, and it was just maybe 18" tall. I planted it in a sunny spot in my back yard, and it grew insanely! I did same as you, cut it back and potted it, and drug it in the basement. The base was so big I didn't have anything big enough to pot it I used one of those muck bucket type things, with the two rope handles on the sides. Unfortunately, my basement does get warm, and it didn't stop growing at all. It didn't take long an the leaves were up to the ceiling. It's still actively growing, and I'm eager to put it outside. Because it was such a show stopper last year, I plan on planting it somewhere in the front yard this year. I have plenty of basjoos in the back yard already. I use milorganite also...and watered it daily. And it grew into a monster! So much so, that I thought about keeping it potted this year....but I'd like to try one more year and see how big it gets.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 11:51AM
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Hi grullablue. Congrats! Yes, these ensete are amazing! How well did your basjoo do? Do you leave them outside year round?

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 11:21PM
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We'll have to wait and see. Last winter I cut them all back and brought them in. This time, I was having neck surgery and really was in a crunch to winterize my tropicals with my basjoo mats, I put a tarp over them then stacked loose bales of landscape hay over them. We will see how they did! If I killed 'em all, I'll be after basjoos this year! But I'm quite sure they're ok. They were the only ones I left ensete, cannas, brugmansia and EEs are in the basement. I did forget to take some cuttings off my persian shield plants...but I can buy some more this year. I'm in southern WI, and just can't wait for the growing season to start again!

    Bookmark   March 25, 2013 at 9:04AM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)


I would love some specifics about your application technique. When you side dress the bananas, how many inches/feet away from the p-stem do you apply the milorganite/ammonium sulfate? Do you broadcast it? Or put it in piles? Or work it into the ground? If so, do you cut a circle all the way around and drop it in the trench, evenly around the p-stem? How far away from the p-stem? What is your method?

Thanks again,

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 1:16PM
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Hi Carol. I simply broadcast it by hand all around the p-stem and water it in with my garden hose. That's it! I hill up some dirt about a foot away from the p-stem all the way around so that the water collects in sufficient quantity to really soak the plant. The fertilizer quickly dissolves in that much water.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 3:15PM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

Ok, that sounds good! We are having a very late freeze/cold snap here that should be out by Friday. I will put down the first application over the weekend.

Where do you purchase ammonium sulfate? I looked online and a lot of the bags don't even look like they are for gardening... they look like something for a chemistry lab. Is it sold under another name similar to Epsom Salts for magnesium sulfate?

Thanks one more time!

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 9:44PM
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hows it up north artic?? down here in ut co its definately
feeling like spring... finally!!!!
my nanners in cold storage are comming alive.. ok guys..slow down.. LOL :)
im always checking out what other banana growers use
as fertilizer..
ive always used banana fuel..but its more $$ than i like..and im not sure im giving my nanners enough K
this making my own fertilizer..
for the K im going to use water soluable potassium sulfate..our soil here has plenty of P and the N i use fish emulsion/protein N and my own rabbit manure tea..which has a good dose of P
also im going to use the hose end sprayer this summer (early day,early evening) and see if that gives these hungry plants what they need..:)

    Bookmark   March 27, 2013 at 7:45PM
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Hi Carol. Ammonium Sulfate is a cheaper form of nitrogen. The more expensive and stronger nitrogen is Ammonium nitrate. I like Ammonium Sulfate because I believe it helps our alkaline soil and won't burn plants as much from over application. Good luck!

Hi Lomodor. It sounds like you know more about fertilizer than I do! All I know is bananas sure love any kind of nitrogen I throw at them here in our western mountain valleys.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2013 at 1:18AM
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lol..dont know if i know that much on fertilizers..:)
ya..u r right on nanners eatting up N..
i know every yr ..i get a bit better at giving my plants what
they need...
its super here last several days.. hit 70F yesterday..didnt get quite that warm today..sunday its "suppose" to get to
70F..hope so..
sure looking forward to get plants out of house..and planted up...

    Bookmark   March 29, 2013 at 7:19PM
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Edie(5 NY (Finger Lakes))

arctic, thank you for sharing your pics and your knowledge. Your photos inspired me to get my first Ensete maurelli last year. I've never grown a banana before and I wasn't sure what to expect the first year from a TC start, so I potted it. Wanted to make sure nobody stepped on the wee thing. I kept it awake this winter, since it still fits in a 10" pot. I've only got one unshaded south window, and the banana dominates it. I've enjoyed looking up at those leaves while the snow flies outside. I think this summer I'll plant it in the ground. Time to get some size on this critter.

Will small Ensetes survive a long dormancy? I live in a small apartment and have lots of other plants. But I'd love to get another one... or two...

    Bookmark   April 2, 2013 at 9:58PM
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Hi Edie. Yes, after one year's summer growth on small ensetes, I've cut off the leaves, stuck them in a plastic bag with some moist peat moss, and they have survived to plant them the following Spring. They are fairly durable!

    Bookmark   April 6, 2013 at 1:11AM
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