Zone 5 Banana Grower???

gardenlady48(z5 IL)January 22, 2005

Just trying to find out who grows a banana tree in the midwest(specifically Illinois) and which variety and with what type of care. I'm looking for a variety that does NOT need to be brought inside. Thanks in advance!

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I'm not sure that there are any banana trees that would survive an Illinois winter. Have you checked at the banana forum?
Good luck.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2005 at 7:55PM
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Garden, for the first time I planted a Musa Bansoo...I got a corm from a nursery that GW doesn't want announced..Got the corm last Feb, planted in soil, then in spring planted outside..The poor thing is covered in snow right now, lol, so don't know if it'll come up or not..
I know sells this musa..Whether or not it'll sprout come spring, well, we'll see..I live right outside Chicago in a sw burb. Toni

    Bookmark   January 24, 2005 at 12:18AM
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I was discouraged from planting a banana here in zone 5a when I emailed several suppliers and ask what they recommended and NOT one got back me. I think the dividing line must be zone 6 where other gWers have managed to go great lenghts but successfully overwinter outside.
Here a master gardener has one in her house. It isn't impressive IMHO. I instead planted banana canna which can be started from seed here and bloom the same summer.
Hope it helps.


    Bookmark   February 1, 2005 at 5:14PM
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stacyp9(5 Chicago)

I know it can be done here in Illinois. A friend of mine in Des Plaines has been successful with one in his yard for three years now. His is in a southern exposure, near his home and out of the wind. He has no idea what variety it is as it was a gift. Sorry.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2005 at 4:34PM
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Karen, you have to know which places to contact. If you've ever shopped at Ted's Nursery in Tinley Pk, or talked to the owner who's a great man, he'll not only show u the bansoo's, but pics of his son's yard here in IL..the son's tree was over 7' about impressed! It's important the the tree is mulched well in late fall, despite its direction. Toni

    Bookmark   February 9, 2005 at 2:46AM
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No doubt you've stumbled on the banana growing forum here at Gardenweb--there are a lot of discussions on musa basjoo, the main banana that has apparently made it through Chicago-area winters. I've got one too, but I just got it last summer and haven't subjected it to the ground yet. I probably will this year. I also overwinter a couple of ensete glauca bananas I grew from seed. So far they've made it, but they looked pretty bad by the end of winter.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2005 at 1:51PM
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Stinkypink, is ensete glauca the name of the banana? I know there's one called Ichango, sp, that's sold at This too is supposed to be hardy to IL. I'll let u guys know come spring/summer whether my bansoo came back..I'm keeping my fingers crossed. LOL Toni

    Bookmark   February 11, 2005 at 12:17AM
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Hi Toni--I bought the seeds as "musa glauca" but have been told that it's actually ensete glaucum, and I've read hardiness information all over the map. It is sometimes called "snow banana" and is from high, cool areas of China. I'm half-tempted to let one of mine stay outside (well-protected) as an experiment--although I really hate to kill anything I started from seed. Are you in the Chicago area? I'll be very curious to hear how your basjoo fares.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2005 at 3:53PM
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Where can I see a picture of the musa basjoo...or any other Chicago-area banana tree? I'm intrigued!

    Bookmark   February 15, 2005 at 11:32PM
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DeltaTropicsGuy(8a TN)

Stacyp9 do you have email?

    Bookmark   March 2, 2005 at 10:02PM
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Pink, actually I'm in Brookfield. I also planted 2 'alledged' hardy citrus, so come spring/summer we'll see.
Jean, for some reason the place I got mine from is banned from GW, so if you want the addy email me. One place you can check out that sells hardy citrus is This is where I got my 2 citrus from. Toni

    Bookmark   March 3, 2005 at 1:37AM
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lalalandz5b(z5b WI)

Since you brought it up twice, I have to ask. Why would GW ban a company from being mentioned here? And how do you go about finding which companies you can't mention here?

    Bookmark   March 3, 2005 at 9:39AM
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gardenlady48(z5 IL)

I too would like to SEE a pic from anyone who has grown a banana tree in Chicago or central Illinois thru the winter OUTSIDE. Thanks

    Bookmark   March 3, 2005 at 10:35AM
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Lala, I guess the nursery got bad ratings..I once posted the name w/o knowing, and Spike wrote me, and kindly stated that nursery was never to be mentioned again on gw..If u want to know the name, email me.
Gardenlady, if you ever get out to Tinley Pk, there's a beautiful nusery called Ted's..this is where I saw the pic of the owner's son's yard..The tree has to be 13'..Of course, bansoo's are inedible, for those who don't know. But still they look just like a banana tree, and grow inedible fruit. The icango which I've planted may be edible.
I've got taht growing in my gh, and next yr if babie's sprout, I'm going to separate them, plant them in the garden. I can't wait..
BTW, I've never been to the banana fourm, didn't know one existed. I'll have to check it out. Thanks. Toni

    Bookmark   March 5, 2005 at 2:22AM
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lalalandz5b(z5b WI)

That's ok, I don't need to know the name. I just didn't want to make the mistake of mentioning a company I shouldn't. Is there a list of the unmentionables anywhere I haven't seen?

    Bookmark   March 5, 2005 at 8:18AM
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myfijiangarden(z5a/b IL)

I've got one (a Musa Bajoo), that is supposed to be good for not only an Illinois winter, but up into Canada as well. I purchased mine at Flowerwood Nursery in Crystal Lake area. As far as I know tha Musa Bajoo is the only banana that can survive outdoors in our winters. I planted mine outside last year, and this is the first winter for it outdoors. It florished outside all last summer and fall. It's been covered and protected all winter. I know it will look pretty yukky at first in the spring, and does as I just started to do a bit of unwrapping the other day. This banana is rated to withstand temps. to -25F. We'll see soon. I really don't think it's dead at all, and I hope it will reach the 12 foot height again like it did this past year.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2005 at 4:35PM
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I have a musa basjoo in the ground, and I am waiting to see if it makes it through the winter. Chicago had a zone 7a winter, so it sould make it.

Stacy9, where about in Des Plaines is your friend with the banana? I would love to see it.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2005 at 7:34PM
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Lala, I don't know if there's a list..Like I said, I posted the name, and Spike wrote me a letter stating not to mention the company again. I was shocked..I've been orderiing from this company over 10 yrs and never had any problems. Probably way more than 10 yrs..
I can't wait to see if my bansoo comes up. Toni

    Bookmark   March 12, 2005 at 12:35AM
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Hey Everyone, Here in my USDA zone 5a(Canada zone 4a), I have survived outside threw the winter, a Musa basjoo, Livistonia chinese, sabal minor, canna indica. And a new canidate a Rhapidophyllum hystrix. I will start a website soon with pic of it.......

    Bookmark   June 9, 2007 at 5:25AM
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Ottawa, congrats..seems you're doing great for someone who lives in z4/5...Last autumn I didn't have a chance to mulch plants..I had a basjoo, citrus, and palm growing outdoors yr round, for several yrs..don't think any will return..I'm so upset..Do u mulch yours? Toni

    Bookmark   June 9, 2007 at 5:07PM
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sandy0225(z5 Indiana)

Here's a picture of a zone 5 basjoo from last year. I live in Muncie, IN. I mulch them heavily with several bags of leaves. This picture was taken in my yard last fall. The same banana is coming up again this spring, it's about three feet tall already, but I've been too busy to take a picture. I sell bananas and hardy tropical plants. I'm testing an elephant ear this year too, rumored to be hardy here.

Here is a link that might be useful: basjoo clump, last fall

    Bookmark   June 28, 2007 at 4:57PM
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webkat5(Z6a MO)

Just picked up a couple Musa basjoo at Westlake Hardware for 50% off (8 bucks)...they are becoming rather common and easy to find.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2007 at 6:05PM
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I tried the musa Basjoo last year. It grew quite tall. about 7 or 8 feet here in Wisconsin Zone 5. Hardy to -20 degrees supposedly. Unfortunately, it cannot take the wet fall and winter that we often have. They rot in the ground. None of mine made it through the winter. I had left one just mulched, and the other I covered completely. Both were mush this spring including the corm. This year I will dig up my new one and leave it in the garage where it will stay dry.
Good luck!!


    Bookmark   July 20, 2007 at 9:55PM
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webkat5(Z6a MO)

Apparently they do well in Chicago, so I am feeling pretty confident....maybe I will tent the area come winter....

    Bookmark   July 21, 2007 at 9:15AM
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At cantigny park in wheaton, IL. They have one growing in their idea garden. Perhaps you could contact their garden department and ask them how they care for it?

    Bookmark   July 25, 2007 at 12:39PM
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sandy0225(z5 Indiana)

Here's how I mulch mine, I cut them off and put bags of leaves still in the bags, over the stumps. put 5-6 bags per stump, in the spring take them off. It gives them protection and helps shed off the excess moisture too.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2007 at 8:33PM
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Mine didn't make it last year. I tried bags of leaves, but they trapped the moisture and the plants rotted. This year I built a chicken wire cage, filled it with mulch, then covered that with heavy plastic, staked down around the cage. I also put bags of mulch around the covered cage and one on top. Before I covered it, I also sprayed it with fungicide, which will hopefully control any mildew. I might also string some Christmas lights around the ground, in case of extremely cold weather.

It was a very tough winter last year, brutally cold and wet, let's hope they have a chance this year! Good luck everyone!

    Bookmark   November 12, 2007 at 9:13AM
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Hey! Not sure how old this message is, but I have grown Bananas in Milwaukee Wisconsin for the past 5 years! I do not plant them in the ground at all. A friend of mine in the Houston area was getting rid of his and chopping them down, he gave me half of a root ball (Rhizome) and I brought it with me on the plane ride home. By the time I landed it had already started growing! I put it in a large pot and put it outside. It grew quickly. FOr the winter I went to Menards and bought a plug in large shop light fixture and full spectrum flourescents and mounted them in my basement. The plant continued to grown. The next year I put it outside again and grew even taller. By the end of that summer I actually had the Flag Leaf and a bananana flower. I brought it in the house again and by January I actually had the sweet smell of banana flower in my house and a few hands of small bananas. Putting them in the ground will not fly in Illinois. But if you buy them and put them in pots, you will do just fine. The only other recommendation I have is this. I am not familiar with Species names, but it seems to me the bananas with Green Leaves are much more tolerant of adverse conditions than the ones with purplish leaves. However, I found a "straggler" in the back of the greenhouse where I buy my plants that looked 3/4 dead. It didnt even have a price on it. So I picked it up and put it in the cart and its had a heck of a summer here. Friend me on Facebook to see pictures of my plants. (Most of them are bananas and tropical plants)

    Bookmark   September 18, 2012 at 11:25AM
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By now I am sure that plant has died. Gotta keep it in the house until its at least 45-50 at night. A freeze will kill the plant to the ground, and a sustained freeze will kill the Corm.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2012 at 11:27AM
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Wow! I am reading all of these and seeing that the Basjoo looks identical to my banana plant that I brought back up from texas. I am not willing to chance planting this one in the ground. (sentimental value) But is there anyone familiar with any nurseries in the Milwaukee area where I might find something like this? Or will I have to order a Corm online?

    Bookmark   September 18, 2012 at 11:39AM
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