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HELP! Is my musa basjoo dying or whats going on?

Posted by jennabee 9 (My Page) on
Tue, Sep 23, 08 at 16:25

I have a few questions regarding this tree, hopefully you experts can help me decipher the problem. (I am not a beginner to Banana trees, I had a Musa Manzano before and it grew very well indoors. However, it only had one tree trunk. This one has tons of grown up pups almost as big as their mom!)

The leaves on my Musa Basjoo are browning in spots. Several of the leaves are broken on the stem near the part where they shoot off from the trunk, others are broken in the center of the leaf on the stem. I want to know... whats going on? Is it dying? Or maybe going dormant? It seems to early for it to go dormant. I know this is much more of a cold hardy banana tree, and I am in Northern/Central California. This month we average 84F degrees by day and about 58F by night. Next month it will be in the 70's by day (avg) and low 50's by night.

Here are some reasons I think it might be doing this, but I am not an expert and I was hoping if you looked at the pics you could help me:
1- Going dormant (I doubt this.)
2- I sprayed it with insecticidal soap the day I brought it home. It is organic and safe to use on this type of tree. It was as a preventative measure to mealy bugs. I've inspected all my plants and they are definitely pest free.
3- Overcrowded roots? There is one momma tree and 5 pups (all about 3 - 4 feet tall or maybe taller) in this one pot that is at the most 18" in diameter. I have new leaves sprouting but as you can see in the pics, they have brown spots on them before they entirely unfurl.) There are also 2 possible new pups on the way. I know this is a good sign of development but my guess is this pot is a full house. One "pup's" trunk is like the same size as the mother.

So I was thinking that maybe to remedy this problem I could pot up to a much larger pot. Would transplanting at this time be unsafe as I will have to soon protect it from dying in the winter? Or is it unwise not to move it up to a new pot for this size pot might cause it to strangle itself?

Also, is it too late in the year to divide? A woman at the nursery said I need to wait for the plant to go dormant before potting up or dividing so as not to shock the plant. However, I only showed her images on my camera and as I didnt see any musa basjoo at her nursery I assumed perhaps I should seek second opinions.

What should I do for success? It doesnt appear to have declined too much since I brought it home, but I do think it needs something. And I water it when the soil is dry down to 1.5" of soil, which is like every day. I pour enough water on it so the soil is saturated through and it is a very well draining mix. Its neither over nor underwatered in my opinion and I have not had any troubles with plants dying on me for that reason for a long time now. PLEASE ADVISE so I can perk this charming tree up! Or if not, prepare it for colder months.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: HELP! Is my musa basjoo dying or whats going on?

The only problem I see is the pot. Put it in the ground, it will do much better and get much larger. Bananas in my experience do not like pots. If you are going to keep it in a pot, go much, much, much, much larger. I think with your climate it will be fine if you repot now. Just don't fertilize and water, water, water.

RE: HELP! Is my musa basjoo dying or whats going on?

Over crowded, when you remove them from the pot try seperating 2 of the pups of the sides.

RE: HELP! Is my musa basjoo dying or whats going on?

Well I do plan to keep it in a pot. I live in an apartment and all I have is a very spacious balcony :) I was planning on putting it in the largest plastic pot I can find for now... I found one at the store!

Tophersmith- you say try to divide the plant into (2 pups in one pot and the rest with the mom in the other?) I can always keep one inside this winter for insurance, but in zone 9a, I really don't think overwintering with such a hardy banana should be too much of a daunting task :)

RE: HELP! Is my musa basjoo dying or whats going on?

Some great advise already. I would get a bright light and check the underside of the leaves for mites. These tiny animals are the size of the sharp end of a pin. Look carefully under each leaf. Indoor potted bananas usually are attacked because of the ideal environment.
They tend to suck the sap from the leaves, weakening the plant, slow growth, leave droop, leaf drop, death of plant.
If you find them, wipe off with warm moist rag,rinse well. Or gently spray with hose under the leaves.
Other than that, a transplant into a larger pot would be beneficial.

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