Help w/ Banana 'Ice Cream' in container

hermitonthehill(7a/b)January 31, 2007

I know some of you grow not just Banana plants in TN, but specifically the variety commonly called "Ice Cream" - so I hope some of you can help.

A friend ordered a starter plant for me and while the company opted to ship to her CC address in Idaho (she recently relocated to the TN Valley) instead of my address like she requested, and a family member in Idaho had to then ship it to her and then she got it to me - it actually looked like it would be okay. I potted it up in an appropriate mix, sparingly watered it, and put it up where it would get fluorescent lighting and bottom heat while indoors. Then the obvious waiting period began for the first leaf to show itself.

No leaf development so far (source's documentation says in x-# of days a new large leaf should shoot up), but I felt the stalk/trunk tonight and it's softening. Suffice to say, I'm concerned that it's just going to rot on me. The company, to my knowledge, offers no warranties of any sort - you get a bum plant or something messed up with shipping, and you're SOL. So it's just me, whatever advice or suggestions or shared experience I can garner here, and a prayer.

I guess I was expecting more of a corm to speak of, but it just looked like a rooted stalk to me when I unwrapped it. It wasn't soft when I got it, but it was pretty well blackened from top to bottom with the slightest hint of (dark) green on what remained of a leaf the source had trimmed off pre-shipping (which they state they do).

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated - any experience at all. I'm not sure what is the norm with these because this is the first time I've tried any type of banana plant. None of my pre-reading prepared me for this unfortunately. If it bombs, by chance does anyone have any pups available for trade either by mail or in person at the Middle Tennessee Plant Swap in May?

Thanks a bunch! (no pun intended)

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Jan_Hobbs(z6a TN, USA)

There are ALWAYS banana pups at the swap...see you then

    Bookmark   January 31, 2007 at 11:18PM
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If rot has set in a small pup, there probably isn't anything you can do at this stage. I would continue to keep it warm and on the dry side for now. Don't give up just let, but ice cream is one of the more cold sensitive varieties.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   February 1, 2007 at 10:25AM
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Near as I can tell, the softening is only in the "trunk" (so far) - not in the below-surface corm and roots area. Would it be prudent to treat it not so unlike a rooting Brugmansia cutting that develop softening or rot, and pruning or otherwise cutting out the softening section to try and keep it from spreading further?

I'm now very hopeful that May's PS won't variate from the "always" :) and there will be pups there AND I'll have something that someone with them will want to trade for.

I "always" feel like I've been gut-punched when losing or having lost a plant and it takes me awhile to build back up the confidence to try again. Such is gardening-life I suppose when trying new plants and new sources, at least some failures can be expected. I try not to take it too "personally" even though it's like losing "a child" or a beloved animal companion.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2007 at 1:48AM
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I should have a Musa Basjoo or two, or three, or four, or five, or six, or..............a dozen.

I'd love to have some of the "red" or varigated varieties too!

    Bookmark   February 7, 2007 at 10:39AM
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I'm smiling tonight. I've been smiling since right before midnight last night. DH arrived home from TX minutes after I caught a peek from a new (viewing) perspective, a change of angle. I wanted to give my happy-happy joy-joy update, perhaps prematurely, and to thank those of you whom spoke up in original reply - and TNShadyLady, thank you for putting into print the affirmation of continuing with what seemed like the "right thing to do" with the ailing pup. If you hadn't, I might have ended up disgusted in silence and chucking it into compost anyway.

But all of that to finally getting around to saying that I was physically in a different position last night while attending to a domestic task, when the angle afforded me to see "within" the crispy, dried remains of foliage or skin of the shriveled "trunk" and take note that a new shoot, in just-born-green was emerging from the center - still cloaked by the surrounding dried remains of the predecessing (?!) growth & cut foliage. I was thrilled! I had pulled/moved the container off of bottom heat and moved it into the same room where I have a pair of D. nanakai making their comeback - and just left it, without watering it, under an overhead CFL. Now that I see active growth, I am beginning to water it - making sure the water runs through it, and watching the mix settle further down still, virtually exposing the roots. So with this warmer weather we've been having, while still leery that we will experience not-so-fluke frosts, I'm thinking of mixing up a lighterweight potting mix to then take the pup out, combine the two mixes, and repot either in the same container or a slightly larger one. I figure it's going to be awhile before it can go outside in the ground - or - do you all recommend container-growing them at all? I don't mind bringing plants indoors over the winter (enjoy the botanical life indoors for that green energy in the bleakness of winter), but I'm not sure if that would make the most of the plant? Opinions on whether they are better (and it's better for them) to be planted in the ground - or grown in a container? Is it six of one and half a dozen of the other? If container grown - what would be a good size for permanent/longterm container-size? (in other words, just go ahead and put them in the biggest recommended or gradually repot into larger containers?)

I've got warm-fuzzies of gardener glee with this new growth... sorry if I appear "too bubbly-giddy" about such a simple thing. I love plants!

    Bookmark   March 15, 2007 at 12:01AM
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So glad that your banana has pulled through. Ice cream can get REALLY large in just one growing season. I had one go from a small pup to taller than my house in one summer. So, I would hesitate to attempt growing this one in a container. Maybe someone else who has done so successfully will post otherwise.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2007 at 10:39AM
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And see TnShadyLady - THAT photo - and one of your posts - was the final reason I decided to formally sign up for membership here on GW :)

I believe I had also read that you had amended the bed/area where yours is growing at. Would you mind giving some details on that? Full sun, I assume? Would this even be applicable though I've found that other "full sun" plants tend to not revel in it where I am, but rather - like last summer - just roast alive even when I'm doing my best to provide them with plenty of additional water ... can I play around with the "full sun" for this type of banana plant/tree?

If I'm not container-growing it (where I could move it in for protection before the cold weather hits and hope that it continued on its natural course without premature interruption) - and setting up a brand new/never before cultivated bed/plot for it - how deep do you recommend for tilling and turning the soil? What amendments do you recommend? (the soil here is pretty much clay - compact and yucky, so I amend beds to specific plants or groups of plants to their needs)

I know to keep the "well draining" in mind so that Musa doesn't end up with 'wet feet'... but what about composted manure or other stuff? Any preferences by Musa spp?

In an ideal season, how much spread horizontally and vertically/depth can I expect with Musa spp. with roots and potential pups?

I'd love to add some more to my gardening plans and propagate to share as well.

I have made note of the want of "red" or variegated (oh yes! I'm such a sucker for variegated plants though, Musa would be no exception) "wants" cited on this thread - so I will keep my eyes open for such and be adding them to my wish list (that I tend to pass along to family/friends when they want to know what I want for a birthday or what have you - generally I just say Diamond Lamb & Rice puppy formula kibble - for the rescues, but people don't seem to take me seriously when I ask for dog food - they seem to take me a bit more seriously about plants - though not non-botanicals even if plant/gardening related - go figure) and then if I get gifted with one, will happily share when I'm able or the plant is able, rather.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2007 at 10:23PM
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The ice banana in the picture was planted in a bed that had been amended over a period of several years. When I first moved into this house, I set about amending the beds - - first with adding lime in the early spring (lime should be added at least 6 weeks before planting), then tilling in generous amounts of manure and compost before planting. We followed this regiment for 3 years. Now there is a well draining, rich soil layer of about 18 inches before you start to see red clay.

For the majority of my beds, I have gone to a "no-till" method of soil management in order to not disturb the balance of good bacteria and fungi. Instead, I top dress with a layer of manure in the spring (followed by a heavy layer of mulch) and with a layer of mulched leaves in the fall.

For the new beds, we amended the soil once and then added topsoil to create raised beds. See following photos.

Bananas have really small root systems, and when they are removed to store for the winter (unless you have a hardy basjoo), all you have is a rounded corm. But I must warn you, the larger bananas are unbelievably heavy as they are so full of water. After digging up my ice cream the first year, I promised my husband that we would not be struggling with another large banana again unless we win the lottery and I can afford a small crew of strong helpers! Even with removing the leaves, the ice cream banana took 3 people to drag in on a tarp and the length (from the top to the bottom of the corm) was around 10 feet.

My ice cream didnÂt spread that much - - even with pups, maybe an area of 3 ft. or so. However, my dwarf cavendishes take up a large area when they are well fed and watered. See photo.

I donÂt recommend an exact compost or manure - - many are just fine. I do throw a handful of time released fertilizer monthly around the base (Peters tree formula with minors). As bananas require a lot of water, I use soaker hoses and mulch heavily. In your situation, raising a bed or creating a berm to facilitate drainage may be your best bet.

Happy Dwarf Cavendish Banana

One of my raised tropical beds

There is another GW member from Middle Tennessee (I think) that is probably the banana expert here. He has several threads on overwintering bananas you may want to search for.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2007 at 11:49AM
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To stay on topic: Is it about a "guarantee" that a banana plant that grows up in-season here, is going to produce at least one pup to propagate itself?

In that last photo there -- what all do you have in that grey/white planter? Looks like a collection of succulents, possibly some cacti? I can't make them out.... but it drew my eye even though I love the look of this whole area you've photographed. And makes me feel less guilty about container-growing LOL

    Bookmark   March 24, 2007 at 1:50AM
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cannahavana(z7a Knoxville)

Hermit, you should see her place in person! It would knock your socks off!


    Bookmark   March 24, 2007 at 11:22AM
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Crikey! This Musa is just getting it from all sides... Okay, help again? That final child I had without conception, pregnancy, or delivery and unanimously named "NOT ME" has snapped the growth over from the top of the corm - two leaves and a third one developing. The "snap" is clean, weeping, and only clinging to the corm with a thin layer of fibers from the initial green growth - there is no "patching" it. So, can I expect Musa to re-try with leaves anew with this early damage? It would be like if it were in the wild and an animal knocked it over/snapped it off with a hoof or paw... or should I just sit down and cry now after watching this corm fight the odds after freezing in shipment more than once and being almost mush? (it's not mushy now thank goodness)

    Bookmark   March 25, 2007 at 7:59PM
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It should come back with a vengeance.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2007 at 7:44AM
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Sooooo sorry for your latest mishap! Hopefully, it will put out more growth and all will not be lost.

In the round container is a variety of different Sempervivum
and a Kalanchoe thyrsiflora 'Flapjack'. As Rebecca can confirm, I am a "containerholic" with about 100 different hanging baskets and containers.

I am no banana expert, but most of the bananas that I have grown have produced pups. However, there are some like Red Abyssinian Bananas that only pup after fruit is produced. I dug my Abyssianian up each year until it got so large that DH was giving me the evil eye at the mention of storing it over winter.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2007 at 10:52AM
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