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looking for basic info for edible bananas in z7

Posted by cousinfloyd NC 7 (My Page) on
Thu, May 3, 12 at 7:41

Hi,
I just realized that people are growing fruiting, edible bananas near me in the ground out in the open, and I'm eager to do the same. I seem to understand that it can be done by digging things up in the fall and overwintering either completely wrapped up in a cool place or keeping a small green/growing form in a not-too-large pot. I need to read a lot more, so I'm looking for online reading recommendations (or maybe other reading sources), and of course, if you have any particular advice for me, that would be great, too.
Thanks!
Eric


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: looking for basic info for edible bananas in z7

  • Posted by lac1361 z9a Lake Charles, LA (My Page) on
    Fri, May 4, 12 at 9:35

In general, fruiting bananas need 15 to 18 months of continuous growth to flower. In any region, when the temperature drops below 50 degrees, bananas stop growing. I don't have to dig mine up in my Zone 9 so I can't help you there but I have heard of folks in colder climates digging them up and putting them in basements or under houses on piers. You should look for the more cold hardy ones like Orinoco, Califormia Gold, Dwarf Orinoco, Namwah.

Steve


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RE: looking for basic info for edible bananas in z7

Steve, thanks a long time later for the advice.

What do those of you in zone 7 think is the easiest way to produce edible bananas, not necessarily the very best bananas but the easiest way to produce bananas that are definitely an eating type?


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RE: looking for basic info for edible bananas in z7

cousinfloyd,

I planted many varieties of bananas since 2005. It is true that bananas need to have continuous warm weather to carry them through to fruition--some longer and some shorter. I'm not very happy with the results of many of the varieties I have. I was only able to see the followng varieties send out blooms--Praying Hands, Cavendish, Apple Banana, Mysore, Valerie, Plantain and Raja Puri. Some of them have the habit of blooming in November and December. Whenever that happens, their immature banana will all get damaged when the cold comes and if the parent plant dies ... everything has to start all over again in the Spring. This will slow the fruit production down tremendously. For many varieties that I have, I don't see them fruit even once.

So far, the most promising variety that has worked for me is the Raja Puri. It has a broad trunk and only reaches 8-10ft tall. It will bloom in one growing season if you have a hot summer to speed up its growth. I planted one about 4 ft tall in early Spring of 2009 after the cold is gone and it actually bloomed in June and the harvest was ready in October.

So, if you're in a colder planting zone, you might want to acquire a plant to keep indoor for a period of time. Place it next to a sunny window and feed it well until the Spring when the danger of frost is gone. Then plant it into the ground. Raja Puri is the only variety that will bear fruit in the shortest period of time according to my own experience. But, I'm sure there are others who have better luck with other kinds of bananas that I'm not aware of.

Anyway, the picture here shows my Raja Puri blooming in June of 2009. I'll post the ripen fruit next.


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RE: looking for basic info for edible bananas in z7

Picture shows my Raja Puri harvest in October of 2009.

I have fruit from the Raja Puri every year. I only posted the 2009 pictures because I had more pictures taken.

Right now, I've planted mostly Raja Puris. I had to dig out many others which did not fruit and I'm planning to pot them in the greenhouse which I will have soon, I hope. Hopefully that will keep them growing continuously without having to die off in the Winter. The starting up again and again is a "fruitless" process if you will excuse the pun.

I hope you'll be able to decide on some bananas that are suit your planting zone. Look forward to seeing pictures of your new bananas.


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RE: looking for basic info for edible bananas in z7

Bananafan, thanks very, very much for the details. My understanding was that I can grow about any variety of banana so long as I dig it up before it gets very cold, keep in a cool, dark space for the winter, and then plant it out again as soon as it thoroughly warms up in the spring. But what I gather from you now is that most varieties won't normally bloom early enough in that cycle and mature fruit quickly enough for that system to work. How many years does it take for your system to complete a cycle? We do have warm summers in North Carolina, but the length of our warm season would obviously be a lot shorter than Florida. Unfortunately, I have hardly any south-facing glass in my house, so I'd only be able to keep one small (probably not more than 18-24" tall of green that would ever get any direct light) plant in the house. (The roof over a porch blocks the light from the rest of our south-facing windows.) Do you have a rough idea what a complete cycle might look like for me? In other words, would I start in the spring one year, keep it as a small plant in front of the window the first winter, then plant it out the next year, dig it up and put in cold dark storage for the next winter, possibly repeat that process more times, and then hope for fruit in the 3rd/4th/5th/6th... year?


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RE: looking for basic info for edible bananas in z7

Cousinfloyd,

Bananas have their minds of their own .. lol, so I can't comment on how long a cycle they need before they fruit. But, I would say some varieties are more predictable than the others. As for me, Raja Puri works for me. I'm able to get fruit off the plant every growing season, but I don't have much luck with the others. They may yield fruit every 2-3 years or more when in the ground. I think for the bananas to complete a cycle, it all depends on how much sun they get and how much water and fertilizer you give them during their growing season and most importantly if the banana is an eager fruit producer. I know all of them will produce fruit eventually, but I would say some earlier than the others. For me here, it is the Winter dying off that sets them back a lot. The lucky ones that survive the Winter may produce fruit quicker than the others.

I would highly recommend Raja Puri for planting. Besides being a good fruit bearer, it is also more cold hardy and it's small and easy to manage at a 6-8 ft height in maturity. The larger species are more difficult to handle and they leave behind more mess to clean up. I had to remove a Saba because it simply was too much to handle for me. Maybe there are others here who have better luck with the other varieties who might share with you their experience.

I've also realized that bananas don't usually produce fruit in a pot. I had one that fruited in the pot, but the bloom was small and the berries dropped off soon after that. Bananas need to be planted into the ground for fast and healthy growth to reach a good fruit production stage.

With regards to overwintering, some people dig out the comb to overwinter while others dig out the entire plant into a pot. If it were me, I would prefer to dig out the entire plant to bring back to the house in the Winter. This way, the banana doesn't need to start from scratch. If you select a banana that doesn't grow too tall, they'll most likely fit into most ceiling heights. If there isn't enough light, you can always get a florescent light to hang above it. I've done that and many of my plants seem rather happy indoor. I've heard someone here in the forum some years back who had an ice cream banana in Illinois (I think) and he was able to get it to fruit after a few years of moving the plant back and forth between the pot and planting it in the ground. It was good that he had a very high ceiling to accommodate the plant while indoor.

Well, I hope that helps. When you've decided on one to plant, maybe you can share a picture of your new plant.


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RE: looking for basic info for edible bananas in z7

Bananafan, every bit of what you said is super helpful. Thanks a lot. Thanks for the variety recommendation and pointers, too. I'll definitely share pictures if I ever get a plant to fruit! Your photos are great.

It would be great to hear from others in zone 7 (or colder) that fruit bananas by digging them up and planting them back out (success stories or otherwise.) I don't think potting them up for the winter would really be an option in my circumstances, so I'm hoping I can make cold storage work.


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RE: looking for basic info for edible bananas in z7

I'm in z8 in NC and have the best luck with Orinoco. I also grow dwarf Orinoco, Raja Puri and dwarf Cavendish. I don't dig mine up, but build a cage around them and fill it with all of the raked leaves from my yard. The Orinoco seem to be the best at having the older stalks survive from year to year, with the both the dwarf types coming in second, and the Raja Puri is a crap shoot if the big stalks will make it. I know in the Raleigh (Z7b?) area people use the same (maybe a little more beefy) leaf cage method to get them to fruit. My Orinoco stalks need to survive two winters, and then the third spring they will put out a flower stalk. I feel like the larger "trunks" of the Orinoco help to better insulate the growing center leaves and prevent them from freezing.


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