grullablue(5)September 2, 2012

Hi all....

I have several varieties of canna plants, a giant elephant ear, and several bananas (basjoo and ensete maurelii) that I'm going to need to take care of this year before we get cold. I've been put in a predicament....and wanted to ask for some advice. Last year, I brought my bananas in mid-October. I hacked the basjoos off to a p-stem of about 12 inches, potted them, and brought them inside (because they were young yet). This year they've really taken off, and out of the two basjoos I started with, I've probably got close to a dozen...many quite large. So, now that they've had a second year to grow, I will winterize them outside starting this year, and have my plan.... but I'm worried.

It was mid October when I winterized everything last year...I think I dug up my cannas closer to the end of October (I am in southern Wisconsin).

Unfortunately, I have been scheduled for surgery the beginning of October, and will be on restriction for at least 6 weeks. I'm not going to be able to DO all the winterizing I need to do, but no way in heck am I losing my beloved plants! Will it hurt them to winterize early? Dig up canna roots, dig up elephant ear, and hack off and winterize my basjoos? Is that too early? The cannas are stored in my basement....but will digging them up early kill the roots?

I haven't even considered my maurelii yet....this is my first year with one, and it has grown into a MONSTER! The thickness of that P-stem is quite impressive, and it's taller than me. I"ll figure that one out....but I'm worried about winterizing my plants too early. 6 weeks after surgery will be too late, I'm sure.

Thanks for any input!


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Your cannas can generally be dug and successfully stored in your area in the later half of September if you leave the clumps in tact. I would not divide them if possible; or leave them as large as possible. If you normally wash the soil out be sure to pack the clumps in peat or something to prevent moisture loss in the rhizomes. The major problem in longer term storage is moisture loss (but don't keep wet) and maintain a cool temperature. Many commercial growers much further south of you must begin their harvest in early October. Don't be concerned with the feeder roots but try not to bruise or cut the main rhizomes. This is a source for bacteria or fungal infection.

On your elephant ears; I have had success keeping them cool but somewhat dry. If you grow them in containers, cut off the foliage and allow the soil to dry and just leave them in the container. I sometimes pack the large bulbs in semi dry peat after removing the soil. Keeping them cool prevents or retards growth much like cannas.

I don't know squat about your bananas!

Best of luck with your surgery and recovery.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 9:30PM
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Thank you! Actually, last winter, I stored my cannas in their clumps. I didn't divide, wash off dirt, nothing. Threw the clumps in a bin, and left them be. I have amazing plants this year, and even divided and gave some away prior to planting. I did mist them a few times over the winter....but never actually "watered" them. So it sounds like the advice you've given is exactly what I did last year. Only...I waited until a good frost killed the foliage, then dug them up. I don't believe I can wait that long this year. The elephant ear, thank you for that, too. This is my first year with one, and it has spread and is quite beautiful! It is growing in the ground...but I don't mind either doing what I did with the cannas (if it will work that way ok), or digging it up and potting it over winter. I LOVE my tropicals SO much I just can't stand to lose all my hard work and enjoyment....I nearly rescheduled my surgery so I could get them all safely out of the ground first! That ensete maurelii is going to be a challenge! The girth on that thing is about as big around as your average person! I just know it's gonna be heavy! ANd...I just bought it late winter/early spring, as a 20" plant with a few leaves on it. It's now like 6' tall!

Thanks for your suggestions...I feel a little more at ease. Having neck surgery, I won't be able to get away with doing this afterward. In October, anyway....

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 7:20PM
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