Banana Plants

Brokenhead(z3Man)November 9, 2002

Well I checked out Banana Man's pics and I'd really like to know how you overwinter banana plants. I've noticed several people asking that in the Banana Man's previous posts. What kind of bananas are they? How long does it take them to grow to 5 or 6 feet? I thought I'd try a couple in tubs maybe? Most suppliers only sell seeds and I believe, from reading some posts here that banana's form rhyzomes or tubers? Can someone tell me how long they take to grow from a seed? Sorry for all the questions but I've never before considered growing banana's!

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Boca_Joe(zone 7A)


As a good friend of Banana Man aka "Musa Mon" and fellow Musa-holic ,I have visited his tropical island in Iowa and also had extensive discussions with him about growing bananas. He grows mainly SABA, ORINOCO,dwarf and regular Jamaican reds, red abyssians, and ornatas. He grows for foliage effec, not fruit , although his ornatas and soem of the others bloom each year for him.

Overwintering banana plants is quite easy. You can store the dormant, dry "corms" (looks kinda like a giant daffodil bulb)in a cool garage or basement in paper bags or cardboard boxes, or pot them up in dry potting mix and barely water during the winter, IN late Febor so they will start to push new growth.

You can start with 10" plants in May and have 10-12' foot plants by September. He has been starting with 3-6' plants and has 20' plants by September.

Bananas MUST have tons of water and fert once they are actively growing OUTSIDE.

Bananas from seed are typically pretty difficult to germinate and take quite a while. You are much better off with small plants or "pups".

Bananas are easy and fun, just give them lots of sun and very good soil.

Home Depot carries quite a few in the spring and summer. They can also be ordered from various mail order companies.

How long to grow them to 5 or 6'??- hahaha, you can do that from May to late June or early July from a 10" plant!

Good luck!

Boca Joe

Here is a link that might be useful: Boca Joe's Tropical Photos

    Bookmark   November 11, 2002 at 8:20AM
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winterpeg_gal(2 MB CA)

Hello Fellow Manitoban...

I can't give you any advise on banana growing, but I'm interested in finding out what else you are growing in this part of the world.

I'm in Winnipeg.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2002 at 1:21PM
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Boca Joe, Thanks so much for your very informative reply! I checked out your pics - you have great looking plants! I will have to try and find a source for Banana corms in Canada, maybe somewhere in B.C. Unfortunately most U.S. companies don't ship to us. You've really got me excited about this now. There is a lady in our area who apparently has a stunning outdoor cactus garden so why shouldn't I have bananas eh? LOL

Hiya Winterpeg Gal, fellow shiverer of the north! Right now I have tons of Canna's (well they are of course sleeping for the winter). All red ones but I'm going to order some new varieties for next year. Also datura and I've got 3 brugs rooting. I am drawn to plants that are big and showy. I have a beautiful area right along a river and in front of a dam to landscape this coming year and I'd love to make it tropical looking. Of course as you know, here in Manitoba we are rather limited to what we can grow, that's why I like plants that I can store for the winter. I'd love to know what you grow and what you do with them in winter.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2002 at 8:30PM
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bihai(zone 9)

If you have a banana plant established in a pot that is growing and well rooted, you can just bring it into your home for the winter and use it as a houseplant in front of your sunniest window. Mist the leaves a few times a day with a spray bottle, don't overwater it (maybe once a week?)provide good air circulation with a fan and don't fertilize it until it goes back outdoors. Plant it in the ground when the danger of frost is over, let it grow (and pup) and when winter comes, either sacrfice the big plant and pot up some pups for winter houseplants, or if you have the space for mama dig her up and pot her too.

I have in no way ever had the winter temps approaching those in Winnipeg, of course, but I do manage to overwinter all of my ornamental bananas every winter using this method...I don't grow any for fruit, just ones like beccari, uranoscopis, mannii, okinawah, ornatas like bronze and pink...I have dwarf cavendish, musella lasioscarpa, basjoo, zebrina, velutina and ensete maurelii planted in the yard year round...they freeze to the ground almost every year and return the next spring. (Except maurelii, this is the first year for it in the ground so will have to see what it does)

I use a greenhouse, a sunny sunroom, and a heated dogshed that has growlights to overwinter them.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2002 at 8:35PM
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Cady(6b/Sunset34 MA)

I brought my dwarf 'nana indoors a couple weeks ago, and it is thriving in a sunny window. In fact, it is unfurling a new leaf and shows no signs of wanting to be dormant. The room humidity is kept adequately by keeping waterbowls (my overwintering water hyacinths) around the room. You can tell if there's enough humidity in the air because it will condense as droplets on the banana leaves, I've found. There is always a "drip line" around the pot. Good thing there's a tile floor!

    Bookmark   November 11, 2002 at 10:27PM
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Thanks Bihai and Cady. Unfortunately I have absolutely no place to keep plants indoors for the winter. I have found a supplier though! The musa they have listed are: Musa Basjoo, Musa Maurelli, Musa Hookeri and a dwarf, masiocarpa. They all look awesome from the pics. If anyone has grown these varieties I'd love to hear your comments.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2002 at 9:18PM
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I have overwintered my blood banana for two winters now. I have it in a sunny window and give it plenty of water (every 5 days or so)and it keeps company with 2 taro plants-black beauty and Illustris and 2 hibiscus. I don't worry about the humidity they all do fine as long as they have enough water in the soil. Last year I even put a few Christmas ornaments on the banana! The only trouble I have is aclimating them when they go outside in the late spring; they will sunburn at first if not protected from the hot sun. I water every day in the summer. BTW I cut off two pups last summer and gave them to friends and left the mother in the same pot.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2002 at 3:01PM
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Cady(6b/Sunset34 MA)

Tiarella raises a good issue ... how to do the reverse (put banana plants and othe tropicals back outdoors in the spring).

Experience has taught me that it is absolute DEATH to the plant leaves to put them in a sunny spot outdoors after they have been inside for months. Even if you kept them in a very bright room. There is just a world of difference in light intensity when it goes through windows and when it's straight from the sun to your plant with no windows in between.

I've had the leaves literally cooked off tropical bamboo, aloes and other plants I overwintered and then plopped outside in the sun. After that, I learned to start everyone, even the sun lovers, in a shady spot, and gradually move them over the course of several weeks from there to dappled sun, to part sun, and finally to a bright location.

When I bring tropicals inside for the winter, they always droop and may even lose leaves for a few weeks, but that's normal. They're just jettisoning the unneeded leaves since they're not photosynthesizing as much in the lower light.
OTOH, my Musa zebrina didn't even flinch when I brought it in. I was surprised. It is doing just as well inside now as it did outdoors all summer.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2002 at 2:57PM
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When I take out my musa zebrinas for the summer I always start them off in the shade for a bit ,,, After a week or so ,, I plant them right out in the full sun ,, Banana leaves are temporary for the plants and the older ones get rather pale looking and then these great, lush leaves start growing like mad .. plenty of manure, fish emulsion and water .. I am lucky to have well water, a little heavy in iron, copper and manganese, so they just thrive ... as the weather cools in the fall,, i just remove them and plop them into a pot only the least little bit larger and winter them over indoors ... great plants

    Bookmark   November 22, 2002 at 7:46PM
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Cady(6b/Sunset34 MA)

Check out the new Banana forum! Spike just started it!

    Bookmark   November 26, 2002 at 10:50AM
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i have ordered plants from a place in florida and one variety always arrives limp with broken stems to the leaf...should i just throw those out and never order them again or will they come back from the root?

    Bookmark   December 8, 2002 at 11:38AM
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anyone know a good place to order banana plants? i've givin up on the place in florida. they took my money and i got nothing, not even a credit to my credit card.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2002 at 9:55AM
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Who did you order from in FL? is the place to order from in Homestead, FL

I also have bought from Stokes Tropicals but you usually don't get your whole order and they take forever to send. Won't rip you off money wise, though.

Contact your credit card company if you get ripped off. They will handle it for you, usually. B.

Here is a link that might be useful: Banana Traders (and other Tropicals)

    Bookmark   December 10, 2002 at 11:33AM
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thanks for the banana plant outlets... i dont want to say the one i have had bad experiences with... not sure if that is ethical to list on this site.. you can contact me personally for details
they change their name and credit card go between so often it wouldnt be relavent anyway..

    Bookmark   December 10, 2002 at 8:49PM
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Hi guys:
I'm in Zone 6b and have been growing Super Dwarfs and Blood leaves in my garden for the last five years. Depending on my time and indoor room, I either pot them up and keep them semi-dormant (low light/low water) or dry them off in October and start them up again in late March. We built a basement bulb room for cannas two years ago and it works for taros and bananas too (when there's room). I plant them out May 1st. No fruit, but they always look great. Thanks for the mail order contacts. I want to add more types.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2003 at 8:52PM
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I haven't used this site but maybe someone would like it because they list bananas and other tropicals.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2003 at 2:55PM
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I realize that this is a pretty old thread, but.....when you move your banana outside in the spring, just cover it with a few layers of cheese cloth or old lace curtains and then every few days, remove a layer of the cheese cloth and it will be fine. It looks strange for a while but it will give your neighbors something more to talk about. You know, you are the strange people that grow weird plants on your deck, etc. and now you have them covered with old curtains.............I think I hear Bob Marley singing.............?????????????

    Bookmark   March 7, 2003 at 6:56PM
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don_brown(Zone 6A NS)

For all you Canadians looking for a good and honest source of bananas and other tropicals, here is a site for a great Canadian supplier in B.C.: Try the Musa basjoo.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2003 at 10:25AM
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winterpeg_gal(2 MB CA)

WOO HOO! Started 5 banana seeds on February 15th, and all 5 just popped! The trouble is: we have at least 6 weeks(maybe more) before last frost... will these end up totally out of control by then? Is there any way of holding them back by cutting back on water or light? Also, should I do any fertalizing?

The variety of banana isn't listed anywhere on the seed pack- not sure if different varieties have different requirements.

Also, an unrelated-to-bananas link: Dancing plants from Thailand???

Here is a link that might be useful: The Dancing Plant artical from

    Bookmark   March 16, 2003 at 12:07PM
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Hi Winterpeg gal - Glad to hear your banana seeds sprouted. I planted some too, on Feb. 27 and I've been so impatient to see a sprout. I bet we bought the same seeds - Thompson & Morgan? The package just says banana plants, houseplant. I believe I read somewhere on gardenweb that they are ensete ventricosum. For me I am hoping they will grow fast and big before I set them outdoors. Sorry I can't help you on the growing requirements, maybe check out the banana forum.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2003 at 12:52PM
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Grant(6a - ON, Canada)

Did you do anything special in order for the plants to germinate Winterpeg Gal (bottom heat, etc)? I have the same type of seeds and it says that it may take upto 3 months to germinate. If you have any secrets please share.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2003 at 2:35PM
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winterpeg_gal(2 MB CA)

I probably used the wrong technique, but here's what I did:

Soaked seeds in warm water (kept on top of fridge for warmth) for 2 days to soften. Then used a file to break the seed coat in 2 places each one. Then filled a large zip lock freezer bag half full with plain old dirt and soaked it to maximum saturation with warm water. Stuffed all 5 seeds in to the bag, seeled it, and threw it back on top of the fridge. The soil was so wet that there was standing water on top once the bag found level. Left it alone in a medium bright kitchen for almost 4 weeks before touching it... and when I finally checked, there they were! I have now taken the seeds out of the bag, and have them in pots with palms I'm trying to overwinter (starting to look pretty rough though!) and I'm keeping the pots quite wet (which could explain the palm problem... I may be getting root rot and might have to move the bananas before I lose the palms.)

I just have to suppress the urge to put them out too soon- we can have frost up to the 3rd week of May, and I want to put them in the ground, not pots.

I have to admit though- the banana method worked, but I think I've lost my brugs seeds... started at the same time and not a sprout using traditional seed starting methods.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2003 at 11:36AM
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I have read the comments about overwintering banana plants. My question is: how soon do the bananas start to grow in the spring? We tried overwintering our masa basjoo in a pot covered with leaves (zone 5/6) and have yet to see any growth on it. Is it dead, or do we have hope yet?

    Bookmark   May 13, 2003 at 11:04AM
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For bananas to start growing outside they need soil and night time temps above 60 degrees F. At your latitude, you can start them indoors in pots if you want them to attain a good size in the summer.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2003 at 11:55PM
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Thanks for the response, Endorph. We won't give up on it yet. We managed to remove 2 babies last fall from the mother plant, and overwintered them in the house. If the mother makes it we'll seriously consider bringing her inside for the winter also.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2003 at 12:42PM
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I got my first banana plants from a guy down the road from me. It was about 6 weeks ago (middle of April). He said there were 2 ways he overwintered his plants: First, wait until first cold weather (not a hard freeze), then
1. Cut 'em even with the ground and pile 2' of mulch on top.
They will resprout, but you'll lose all the height you built up.
2. Dig 'em up, cut off dying leaves, slide the whole plant into a large plastic bag and put it under the house where it will not freeze. Replant in the Spring. You can separate the pups from the mother plant.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2003 at 10:41PM
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Stuttgart(WI 53012)

Has anyone a Gran Nain banana plant. I am growing mine indoors and I need to now how big they get indoors. And do they produce bananas inside?

    Bookmark   September 27, 2003 at 4:10PM
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marga_3112(NYC NY)

Hi all, i have a banana tree indoors that doesn't look happy...
I don't know what's wrong with her since it's by a big sunny window and summer is very humid in new york city, but the leaves& stems are bending down (they were straight up before), and there's a new leaf that didn't bother to unfurl for months now, what do you think it's the problem and what should i do???

also in winter some of the leaves turned brown and dried out, is it because of the dryness? too much/too less water? some pest??



    Bookmark   August 8, 2004 at 11:48AM
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Reputable Place to Purchase Banana Plants, Anyone know of one? If so, do they ship year round? Thanks

    Bookmark   October 4, 2004 at 10:43PM
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sandy0225(z5 Indiana)

Bringing bananas indoors for the winter. If you have a unheated basement, you're in business, if you know anyone with a basement that will let you use it, you're in business. Dig up your banana, put roots in a trash bag and tie it around the trunk of your banana. cut off all the leaves except the spiral one in the center that is unfolding. Store it in the basement, standing up, or at least partially standing up, for air circulation. Mine is too tall to stand straight!Check it in a few months and see if it is too dry. If it is, water it SPARINGLY with a cup or so of water.

For all you people bringing in bananas to grow as houseplants, WATCH FOR SPIDER MITES!!!!Treat asap with this spray if you see any--1 t dish soap liquid, 1 T ammonia (not the sudsy kind) and 2 1/2 gallons of water. Spray all surfaces of leaves and stem every three days until mites are gone. This helps green the plant back up, too.

If your plant "dies" from spider mites, cut it off at the ground and usually it will put out new growth from the roots which is called a pup.

The banana forum is LOADED with information and sources for bananas. Do a search there!

I hope this helps!

    Bookmark   October 9, 2004 at 9:21AM
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I don't have a unheated basement, but I have an ATTIC where temperature never gets below 33F.
Your method seems to be adequate.
Will it work with Ensetes? Or maybe another species (apart from cannas) like allocasias, gingers, etc?

    Bookmark   November 12, 2004 at 6:45AM
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I have an indoor banana plant. What's the best way to seperate the small shoots/plants from the main plant? I've never done this so any tips would be very helpful!


    Bookmark   April 3, 2005 at 9:40PM
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I bought 4 banana plants as Christmas gifts. We are now all in a contest as to who gets the first fruit. Plants were about 6 inches tall in Nov. Now all are well over 1.5 feet. Even without fruit they are a hit with the kids. I live in NY. Fear of frost is behind us now. Can I bring out my plant? Also are there any tips for preferred fertilizer that can give me an edge in this challenge?

    Bookmark   May 11, 2011 at 11:00AM
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