Need Advice on Bananas and Palms in KC

Tigerballz(z6MO)July 22, 2005

I am wanting to plant some Musa Basjoo by the middle of August. Do you think this would be a wise choice in Kansas City? We are in zone6, but most of our winters are more typical of zone 7b. Once every 3 or 4 years we may dip below the 0 degree mark. But we always have some mild days of 60+ and a lot of 40's and 50's. Our deep freezes can last sometimes up to 10 before above freezing temps return. We average 19 inches of snow each season, last year was only 13. I don't believe I would have to mulch a MUSA Basjoo since they are supposed to be root hardy to -20. DO you guys think a Trachycarpus Takil, Sabal Minor, or a Sabal Birmingham could survive without being covered after a couple of years of winter protection?

BTW, Spring starts here at around March 7th, but some flowers bloom in Feb.

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I suppose it's always worth a try. M. basjoo are hardy no doubt, but they need to build a hefty root mass before being put to the hardiness test. I'd mulch them anyway in your zone.
The palms you mention are good picks but remember you could loose them to cold weather. Much of the "hardiness ratings" are for mature specimen and cold spells of relatively short duration. If this wasn't the case, palms would be promanant all over KC.

Cheers, Barrie.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2005 at 1:41AM
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I would not put them in the ground over the winter  bring them in & put them in a pot. The Washingtonia palm is easy to grow & can be kept in a pot a long time. Build or get a nice stand with rollers on it & place the potted plant on top of it so you can roll it around. Bananas do seem to do better in the ground. I know you are talking about cold hardy varieties, but maybe you could keep them in the ground over the summer & dig them up during the winter.
You never know what the weather will be in your area because you are in the center of all those fronts. It can be very warm one day, freezing the next. I would be more concerned more about the wind chill factor rather than temperatures. That can be hard on tropicals.
There are posts in which growers built a temporary outdoor greenhouse over their tropical & then heated it. That might work. If you have a massive snow with drifts, it needs to be sturdy enough to handle the drifts. Heating the soil with some form of heat tape might also help.
If I were growing bananas in your area, I would put them in the ground over the spring/summer & bring them in the winter. You can not dig them up when the ground is frozen, & you never know what kind of winter you are going to have. The weather is too unpredictable. The palms I would keep in a pot. Most of the palms I have dug up - unless they are seedlings just do not take.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2005 at 7:38AM
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If you can get a good-sized M. basjoo, plant it now and cover + mulch well after frost, I think you stand a decent chance of overwintering it. M. basjoo has wintered over here twice since I planted it, but I'm not about to gamble with leaving the mulch off.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2005 at 11:41AM
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watergal(z6/7 Westminster, MD)

I got a large musa basjoo and a young Sabal minor through the winter last year. I mulched the basjoo with frost-dried banana and canna leaves, maybe 9" worth. The sabal I just sprayed with Wiltpruf.

The musa died back to the ground but came back with a vengeance in April and is doing great. The Sabal had some winter burn and lost a few fronds but lived.

If I were you, I'd wait until spring to plant them so they get a well-established root system before winter. If you must buy them now, overwinter them indoors this winter and plant them out in spring.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2005 at 7:27AM
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I have a giant grove of bas joo bananas here in CT ,,with temps of -5 ... just cut the stalks after the first freeze and pile tham all on top ,, pile snow on them all winter too for extra protection

I wrap my trachys and sabals and needle palm lightly with burlap and snow and they have done fine for years

    Bookmark   July 25, 2005 at 4:02PM
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