Broken Trunk

seamommy(7bTX)November 5, 2010

I have a little (7') palm tree in a pot, I don't know what kind it is, that fell over in the wind and the trunk got broken. It didn't snap off, but it doesn't look good. I stuck a strong stake in the soil next to it and have tied it upright. The leaves are very wilted now and starting to brown. If I cut this tree off at the break will it begin growing from that point? Or have I killed the little guy? Would wrapping it help? Cheryl

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So many plants have the common name of palm, but are not even closely related so I am hesitant to tell you it's bad news... but if it is indeed a real palm, it's a goner.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2010 at 5:16PM
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Palms are hardy but once this degree of damage has occurred it's a done deal. I have to tell you though, I've had many palms topple over outside as a result of storms and I've never had one snap. I wonder if there was a problem with the plant before it fell over.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2010 at 7:55PM
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If it is truly a palm then it probably is dead. Do you have a pic of it so we can ID the plant and see the damage?
Hope it lives!

    Bookmark   November 5, 2010 at 9:08PM
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Here are a couple of views of the damaged area. A couple of the fronds are perking up today, so I'm hoping I haven't lost her:

This is the only palm tree I've ever had and I know virtually nothing about them, except feed and water. This one never went dormant last winter, but she grew more slowly than she has this summer. She's put on about 30" this year. That central frond was crushed right where it emerges and I have had it propped up some, but it doesn't appear to be recovering.

So from you knowledgeable folks out there, please tell me if you can tell from these pics what kind of palm is this and is there any hope of recovery? Cheryl

    Bookmark   November 6, 2010 at 8:27PM
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Well the bad news is that it isnt a palm tree, it is a banana, but thats actually really good news because they can have there "trunks" broken and they will still grow back. That one leaf in the front of the picture that is bent over can be cut off since its only weighing the plant down. It looks like it will be fine! Keep it on the dry side if its cold. If it isnt recovering, it might just mean that its too cold for quick growth. My bananas slow down when nights are in the low to mid 50s if the days arent sunny and in the low to mid 70s. If its kept warm, then you can fertilize it and water it and it will take off (By warm I mean above 55F at night and above 70F during the day.
Next summer you can even plant it in the ground and it will really take off if given enough heat, water, plant food, and light. Right before your first frost, you can cut off all the leaves, and dig it up with a shovel for the winter so it can be kept in a pot indoors until next summer. Some people even get fruit from there banana plants with that method!

    Bookmark   November 6, 2010 at 8:52PM
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its a banana tree u can try to help it bracing it like you r doing... it could def grow back but will take time to re-harden the psuedostem... or u can just chop it in half at the break and it will start growing back straight from there. it will be fine it will not die unless u poison it haha... good luck -Jusitn in Vb

    Bookmark   November 6, 2010 at 8:59PM
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That is GREAT News!!! The person I got it from didn't know what it was. She said she thought it was a banana, but hers had never set fruit. We're both zone 7'ers so what do we know?

I have a perfect sunny spot in my yard for this little guy. I'll ty not to poison it! haha. I've killed plants before but not on purpose.

Wow, thanks guys, you really made me happy today. I have a banana! SO a banana isn't a palm? Guess I better google that and find out what the heck it is...

Cheryl(proud banana owner)

    Bookmark   November 7, 2010 at 11:47AM
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How much frost do you get during winter, and whats the average coldest night?
I dont know what its like growing bananas in a colder zone but in a CA zone 9b, I leave them outside all year. I dont chop them down or prune when they get frost damaged. The folded down dead leaves act as extra protection if it gets cold again. Just before spring and after last frost I prune the leaves back but only partly close to the trunk. In spring they resume growing from the original point.. They fruit here very often, next year I should get some bananas.

Here a pic of my bananas taken today-

It takes 15 months for bananas to mature on the tree. You will have to pick them before the first frost.
Good luck! Hope you get some fruit next year :)

    Bookmark   November 7, 2010 at 2:16PM
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Sorry I forgot to mention, they start to produce flowers after growing 22-30 leaves. Depending on climate, they would have to be about 3+ years old. You will know when they start to flower do to the newest leaf which will be smaller than the others.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2010 at 2:24PM
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We get occasional hard freezes so I won't be leaving it outside all year. I googled bananas yesterday and found out a lot about them. This is all very interesting. They don't really have a specific "dormancy" do they? As long as the conditions are right they just go right on growing. At least that's what mine did last winter in the greenhouse. My GH has a high roof peak so I could probably leave it in there year round.

Summers are so hot and dry here I'm afraid that it would die even in the ground. This year we had temps near 100 for nearly 45 days. The area where I would plant this guy would be in very good soil, we actually used to have our compost bins in this location. It would get full sun and some protection from the hot dry wind.

Separating the suckers from the mother plant after fruiting is how you propagate them! I'm looking forward to that. The information I read discussed a lot of different varieties, Orinoco being the most common, and taste, texture and qualities of the different fruits. Is that how you would determine what variety of tree you have, or does it even matter? If it tastes good-just eat it? Cheryl

    Bookmark   November 8, 2010 at 12:41PM
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all musa (bananas) are not edible. i think yours is an orinoco but maybe a basjoo hard to tell its smaller in size ans a little stressed from the break. Seperating the pups is easy and fun but i wouldnt think u would have any til next year... if u brink it in the greenhouse theres a good chance it may fruit next summer! good luck -Justin in Vb

    Bookmark   November 8, 2010 at 2:30PM
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With enough water and maybe a little shade from the hottest part of the day, it would probably do fine in your climate. They are heat loving plants (as long as its not a dry heat) and grow all over the tropics (which I will say never does get to 100F in most cases, but the heat index is VERY high and the sun and humidity also strong.
Not all bananas are edible, but a pretty good amount of them are. You can determine the type of banana you have from a lot of things. The most common can usually be ID'ed by growth habit or leaves, but some bananas can only be ID'ed easily by there fruit.
Its hard to say what banana you have, but my guess is that its Orinoco, or maybe basjoo (I dont think its cavendish because the "trunk" or pseudostem as its called in the banana world is completely green, or at least almost, and Cavendish is usually blackish). If you have a basjoo, it will not produce edible fruit, but you will get seeds from the fruit and it will also survive your winters with very little protection if any once established. (Basjoos are the only banana as of right now that can reliably survive a zone 7 winter when established, however there are others that will come back in a zone 7 during warm years, or with protection, but they may not produce fruit because they would be sent back the ground every winter).

Good luck!

    Bookmark   November 8, 2010 at 4:01PM
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As long as you water them everyday, maybe even more than 2x when it is near or above 100f you should do fine.My area of California is very hot and dry in summer.

@ tropicalzone7- I didnt know that. Do you have to chop them down to the ground in colder zones? Over here after they get frost burned, I leave them alone until spring. They keep their size. Thanks for the info, its always interesting hearing how to grow things in different areas :)

    Bookmark   November 8, 2010 at 6:02PM
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here in a zone 8b they will die down in approx january when it reaches below 28* approx and then they will freeze to the center and start to turn brown and crispy over the weeks and then they will regenerate/grow from the "corm" bulb every march. each year the corm is left and overwintered the "mat" of bulbs will get huge and they will grow up faster every year... or you could dig them up and bring them in as many of us do...

    Bookmark   November 8, 2010 at 8:30PM
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us marine, Some people cut them down and mulch them, but with really mature banana plants, some people in a zone 7 let their musa basjoo bananas dry up naturally and the dry leaves alone give protection. Once my Musa basjoo bananas get older, I think Im going to do that and not give it any special protection, but they wont even be in the ground until next spring! Its cool that someone in a zone 9b uses the same protection for there banana plants as someone in a zone 7! Too bad we cant grow any edible varieties without protection here.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   November 8, 2010 at 9:23PM
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