I've killed every musa basjoo :-(

scully931(6)April 15, 2009


I'm sure you all are tired of hearing about overwintering musa basjoo, but seriously, I can't seem to get it right. This year I had a nice tall one about six feet high. I cut off the leaves, put a chicken wire structure around it, filled it with straw, then wrapped the whole thing with a nice big tarp. It fell over on a windy day about two months ago. I took everything off and can't see anything but fiber and straw. The pups seem to be gone too.

I took my smaller one out of the ground and put it in my unheated garage (bare root). When should I bring it out? It is supposed to be very nice starting tomorrow but we may have a few more nights where it dips down into the low thirties.

Just don't want to ruin the only one left. I've never had one make it and I've tried so many different tactics. :-(

Thank you for any advice.

Here is a link that might be useful:

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john_trussville(z7b AL)

Sorry you're not having much luck over-wintering your basjoos.

try this: after your first frost go ahead & cut them off at the top of the ground, cover the cut psuedostem with a couple of inches of mulch, then lay down a large garbage bag, then heap on the mulch, leaves, whatever you have at least 6 to 8 inches deep (compacted) & over a radius of at least 2 to 3 feet around the psuedostem . The garbage bag will keep out excess moisture during the winter & prevent rot. I've been using this method for years & haven't lost a banana yet.

If you're in zone 6 I wouldn't put a banana in the ground until early june. If you plant it before then, it'll just sit there and not grow anyway, & you run the risk of rot if it it gets too wet in the cold soil.

good luck!

    Bookmark   April 16, 2009 at 3:26PM
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Thank you. I'll try that next fall. Sounds easier than my chicken wire structure anyway! :-)

    Bookmark   April 17, 2009 at 12:21AM
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JohnnieB(Washington, DC 7a/b)

Give it time. As long as it had a good mulch, it's likely still alive. My own M. basjoo hasn't started to grow yet; I'm in zone 7 but on a north-facing hillside with its roots in the shade, so mine is always rather late to come up, usually late April or so.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2009 at 8:56AM
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So it might be alive under there? That's hopeful. I wasn't going to pull it out or anything just in case. It isn't mushy like the one from the year before that I didn't cover with a tarp. Keeping my fingers crossed! :-)

    Bookmark   April 18, 2009 at 12:43PM
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I know gardeners in zone 6 who have 10' basjoos, just by mulching heavily over winter. Potted or bareroot basjoos will survive dry at room temp down to 40 degrees, but not in a subfreezing place.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2009 at 7:30AM
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I planted two bare root ones I got in themail in October. They died off in December after a particularly windy and cold ice storm. I threw a whole bunch of pine bark mulch on them and hoped for the best. I had given up hope and then the third week of March they both popped out of the ground. They are both about 6 to 8 inches tall. Waiting for them to take off. Do they really grow to their full height in a season? How are they in clay soils?

    Bookmark   April 24, 2009 at 10:47AM
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Mine grew over 6 feet in one season. I have clay soil and don't ammend it. Seemed to do well for me! Until I murdered it. :-(

    Bookmark   April 24, 2009 at 11:43PM
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basjoo are so easy to dig out and overwinter in a cool garage, that if you have a place to keep them there's no good reason to hassle with structures.

right before a frost, simply cut off all the leaves except for the newest one, and pull out the stem - the rootball is easily lifted with a shovel. A 6-ft stem with small rootball is easily carried with one hand. You don't need a big rootball either - enough to fit in a 3-gal pot is plenty. You can stick it into a pot of bark mulch, in the garage, and just water lightly once a month. Light is not needed. You can then take the plant + pot into the house, somewhere warm, about 3-4 weeks before you are ready to plant outside. The warmth will trigger root growth and by the time it is planted, it will be ready to sprout new leaves and away you go.

Multiple stems also divide easily - I use a kitchen knife to separate pups from the main stem. I have had 100% success 4 winters in a row now. I started with one small plant, now I have about 10 monsters and I actually gave some away because I don't need that many :-)


    Bookmark   April 29, 2009 at 9:05PM
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JohnnieB(Washington, DC 7a/b)

I would give exactly the opposite advice of xerophyte_nyc: Musa basjoo are so hardy, and so easy to overwinter in the ground, that there's no good reason to hassle with digging them up! Structures or special protection are completely unnecessary; a heavy mulch is all they need. The pseudostems will die to the ground, but come back the following spring and once it warms up a bit, and with proper watering and fertilization, grow back to full size in practically no time at all. Moreover a second year plant will usually grow to at least twice the size as the previous year and even bigger in the third year; established clumps can get VERY big.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2009 at 10:04AM
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Dang it! I'm getting another one! :-/

I wasn't going to but after reading about them doubling in size and number I'm going to give it another go.

I did store one in the garage but I didn't know it had to go into something and be watered. I just put it on a shelf bareroot. It actually seemed nice and firm until about a week before I planted it when it grew something white and got bit soft. :-( Argh. I still planted it. Nothing yet.

Next year. Mulch only. At least if it doesn't work I won't be extra mad about spending of time wrapping it.

Thanks for all the advice!

    Bookmark   May 5, 2009 at 12:18AM
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Sometimes they sell basjoos that have already gone through a winter which may increase your sucess for overwintering since its definately capable of coming back up. Its not proven, but basjoos that are grown in a greenhouse their whole life might not have the ability to overwinter. I dont know if this is true or not, and I have had no luck with basjoos. I bought one in April about 2 or 3 years ago and it died before I even took it outside. I will probably try one again eventually. I would only put about a foot of mulch on top of it with maybe a tarp to keep it from getting wet.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2009 at 8:49PM
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i've killed it 3 times before i found the right spot in my yard, they are cheap now & everyone sells them - keep killing them till you get one that lives

i don't like the idea of putting plastic down as I think it would hold water in the winter

when i cut mine done (and it gets huge) i let it dry out for a couple days, then stack the leaves on top of the stem - then pile tree leaves on top - the basjoo leaves retain that wax layer & maybe some of the winter water/ice runs off stopping the rot??? it seems to work for me

    Bookmark   May 17, 2009 at 8:53AM
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Yes, the two I left outside last year and the year before both rotted. One was covered, one wasn't. Go figure. :-/

I have two little ones now and will do a 'survive the winter' dance over them before planting. haha.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2009 at 11:59PM
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glen3a(Winnipeg MB 3A)

Different perspective from a colder winter climate, I dug my basjoo up last fall, potted it and kept near a bright window. It didn't even get very much sun. I was careful not to over water and did spray once in a while with neem oil/water as a precaution against bugs.

The only downside is that you usually have to adapt it to sun very gradually. Even then, any leaf it had indoors eventually gets burnt. Also, the indoor leafs don't seem as strong, for lack of a better word. A few gusty wind spring days and the break easily.

Once you plant back in the flower bed, however, the new growth is normal.


    Bookmark   July 6, 2009 at 11:10PM
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