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Banana plant care questions

Posted by kconley 8 (My Page) on
Mon, Nov 20, 06 at 1:36

Hi,

I just bought a house in Northwest Florida that has a banana plant in back. It currently has two suckers (I've expanded my vocabulary today reading about banana plant care.. lol), one is about 2 feet tall and the other about 10 inches. I'm not sure what kind of plant it is, the previous owner said he bought it at Wal-Mart.

I've read the first 3 pages of posts to see if I could find answers to my questions, but it's now late and work comes early in the morning and it only caused me to have more questions.

Here's my questions:

1a. Wintering - I read about people bringing their banana plants in for the winter. I've also read that the roots can go 5 feet deep and about 10 feet wide. Do you dig up the rhizome and cut off the roots?

1b. What's the best way to do this?

2. I also just found out today about USDA zones... I'm in zone 8... (I'm obviously not a gardener, but we all start somewhere. Do I need to worry about bringing in the plant? We did have frost on the ground just the other day.

3. If I do bring in the plant, should I separate the suckers from the main plant, or wait till spring?

4. The plant is in a location that doesn't get the best light, though it's currently about 6 foot tall. Should I worry about it, move it, or just plant the suckers form it in a sunnier location later?

5. The plant is also about 3 feet from the pool equipment and when working on the pool, chlorinated water gets pumped out onto the soil directly around the plant. Should I worry about this?

Thanks!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Banana plant care questions

When responding to your questions, I kept in the original answers and replied in ALL CAPITAL letters to make it easier to read.

1a. Wintering - I read about people bringing their banana plants in for the winter. I've also read that the roots can go 5 feet deep and about 10 feet wide. Do you dig up the rhizome and cut off the roots?

I'M NOT SURE ABOUT THE ROOTS, IT DEPENDS ON WHICH VARIETY OF BANANAS YOU HAVE. I MYSELF IN ZONE 6B DO DIG UP MY BANANAS AND CUT OFF THE ROOTS. BANANAS STORED IN THIS FASHION HAVE NO NEED FOR ROOTS AND IT DOESN'T AFFECT THE PLANT.

1b. What's the best way to do this?
I FIND THAT USING A FLAT-LIKE SHOVEL AND CUTTING AROUND THE BASE OF THE BANANA. DIG A HOLE THAT IS 3 TIMES THE WIDTH OF THE BANANA STEM AND CUT THROUGH THE ROOTS.

2. I also just found out today about USDA zones... I'm in zone 8... (I'm obviously not a gardener, but we all start somewhere. Do I need to worry about bringing in the plant? We did have frost on the ground just the other day.

ZONE 8 IS IFFY. SOME BANANA VARIETIES SUCH AS MUSA BASJOO AND SIKKIMENSIS HAVE A HIGH PROBABILITY OF SURVIVING. OTHERS WILL NEED PROTECTION FROM ANY KIND OF FROST OR FREEZING.

3. If I do bring in the plant, should I separate the suckers from the main plant, or wait till spring?

WAIT TILL SPRING. THE MAIN RIZOME FROM WHICH EVERYTHING GROWS FROM WILL NEED THE ENERGY TO 'HIBERNATE' THROUGH SPRING.

4. The plant is in a location that doesn't get the best light, though it's currently about 6 foot tall. Should I worry about it, move it, or just plant the suckers form it in a sunnier location later?

IN ZONE 8, DURING THE SUMMER MONTHS, YOU GET A LOT OF SUNSHINE THAT IS MORE DIRECT THAN THE MOST OF THE USA. HOW MANY HOURS OF DIRECT SUNLIGHT DO THE BANANAS GET DURING THE SUMMER MONTHS? ALSO, SEE THE ANSWER TO QUESTION NUMBER 5.

5. The plant is also about 3 feet from the pool equipment and when working on the pool, chlorinated water gets pumped out onto the soil directly around the plant. Should I worry about this?

DEFINITELY. PLANTS, AND BANANAS TO SAY THE LEAST HATE THIS KIND OF WATER. MOVE THE PLANT TO ANOTHER LOCATION THAT DOES NOT COME INTO CONTACT WITH CLORINATED WATER.

Thanks!


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RE: Banana plant care questions

Thanks for the info Gardenguy!

I'll be moving the plant for sure.


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RE: Banana plant care questions

Ok... I've dug up my banana plant and I've got more questions.

In this image (Click for full size) I've dug up the plant, but left the stalk. Do I need to cut off the stalk or leave it as is?


Here's a picture of the roots. Do I need to trim off the noodle looking parts? Also, there are some sort of bulbs mixed into the roots. Are these part of the banana plant or something else that got dug up?



Finally, is the height of the plant measured at the leaves or at the top of the stalk where the leaves come out from?

Thanks!


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RE: Banana plant care questions

They are supposed to be measured to the top of the trunk, but oftentimes the measurements given are to the top of the leaves.


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RE: Banana plant care questions

Hi kconley --

I live in the Panhandle as well -- in Bayou George between Panama City and Youngstown. (Just recorded a low of 32F last night.) If the banana was there at your home when you moved in, chances are that it would winter over just fine in the ground, since it was probably there at least a season.

I grow super dwarf cavendish, California Gold, dwarf Namwah, dwarf Brazilian, ice cream, and Pisang Raja. All of these will handle winter temps here (some better than others), but if you want to enjoy fruit, you may have to do something a bit more elaborate to protect the fruit from freezing.

There is quite a bit of variation between the different varieties and their cold-sensitivity. If you wish to grow more varieties (perhaps so you could enjoy some fruit), you'll have to do some research to select one that will fit in your yard as well as handle the cold.

Make sure the site you select to plant your banana gets full sun, and water and fertilize well next season. Dig a fairly good-sized hole, filled with good humus -- and keep grass and weeds from competing with the plant. Leave the trunk intact, and when it warms up it will resume growing from the top.

Bruce C.


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RE: Banana plant care questions

Thanks Bruce. I wanted to make sure I didn't cut off the stalk if I didn't need to.

Yes, the wife and I would like to have fruit. She's from Puerto Rico and she's wants plantains if we can grow them and I'd like to try some other bananas as well. I never knew there were more then the type you buy in the store.

Icecream and apple bananas sound really good to me.

About how long would I want to wait before I put it back into the ground, and do I need to trim off the noodly looking roots? I'm still getting used to Pensacola, and I don't know when the frosts end.


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RE: Banana plant care questions

Hi again --

About the first or second week of April or so, maybe a bit earlier if you're near the coast and it seems like a warm spring. Don't trim off the roots -- they'll help give the plant a head-start when you put it in the ground. Just wrap the root ball with newspaper and maybe a loose plastic grocery bag to help keep your floor clean.

You'll have to judge how much room you want to allocate to your bananas in your yard. Figure at least a diameter of eight to ten feet per mat. Ice cream grows fabulously well, and you'll have leaves reaching to 15 feet in a few months. But the downside is the immense size (if you're short on space), and winter-protecting fruit that's seven or eight feet off the ground. Brazilian has the sub-acid "zing" like the apple/manzano variety, and I just cut off the bunch off one of mine this past weekend. I don't know that much about plantains, but I have heard that California Gold doubles as a dessert and a cooking type -- and I know how well mine does.

If you're looking for a nursery that has excellent prices and quality of plants, check out Going Bananas. Don and Katie are wonderful people.

Hope this helps.

Bruce

Here is a link that might be useful: Going Bananas


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RE: Banana plant care questions

Hi,
I don't know if you are still ansering questions or not but i have one anyway. I have a banana plant with purple, yellow, and green leaves (all on one leaf) and its new leaves have a dark green to brown squishy spot on the outside on one side of the leaf. I have tryed varying humidity, light, wetness, and fertilizer levels. What is it and how do i get rid of it (if i can). HELP!!!


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RE: Banana plant care questions

Kconley, this thread is starting to confuse me. For one, as far as I know, we don't know what type of banana you have. But since the banana was at the house, there is a very good chance that it should stay in the ground for winter.

This gets confusing for not only banana's, but plants like canna too. It looks like the tree dies in the winter, but only the above ground part dies. The corm, stays safely tucked underground. It takes way more than a brief freeze to get the ground and the corm to freeze. Transplanting is normally done in northern climates.

In your case, your best bet is to leave the plants in the ground. If you are worried about them, add a foot of mulch around the base. And last thing, harvest some pups in the fall and bring them in, just in case the mother plants decides to die.

I live in San ANtonio and we get plenty of freezes. But the plant just goes into hybernation till the ground temperature rises to promote growth.

Now the arguement can be made that you have some sort of delicate "tropical" that will keel over at the first sign of frost. But if you have some pups harvested and growing inside, you will be able to replace the plant.

ANd if that sounds like a hassle, consider that you are in FLorida, a location where you should not have to be bringing bananas indoor in the winter. In which case you would want to replace that banana with something that is hartier in the long run.

They have bananas that are hardy to zone 5. SO I'd leave them in.

ANyways, good luck to you! Enjoy your new found freindship with the banana plant. A curious fellow who is gaurenteed to surpise and entertain.


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RE: Banana plant care questions

I live in Southeast Louisiana in Raceland to be exact. This year our the temperture dropped between 28-30F. It stayed that way for three nights in a row. This happened three times. The daytime temperature did not get above 35F. for these really cold days. The banana trees leaves turned brown. I thought the trees were dead. I started to cut them at the base and noticed they still had color within the plant and were still moist. The trees are at least 3 years oold. This was the first year bananas had even produced on the trees, but did not survive. I really don't know when the bananas even came out. How am I suppose to care for the trees. They are too large to dig out of the ground. Have I hurt the trees. Also, we do get new shoots. We live on the bayou so drainage and moisture is not a problem.


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RE: Banana plant care questions

It's too early to cut anything back on your bananas. You may trim off the dead leaves but wait a few more weeks and look for new leaves emerging from the top of the pseudostem. If you don't see any new growth in a few weeks, the begin to cut off the top of the pseudostem removing the dead parts. Cut about 6 inches of growth at a time. Your bananas might only have suffered a little freeze damage at the top. Once you find white growth at the top of the banana, stop cutting and wait a week. You might see a new leaf emerging. If so, then your banana is ok and likely to continue putting out new leaves and possibly a bloom.

Steve


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Re: banana plant care

I do not know what king of banana plant I have, I am thinking it is an ornamental.. Anyways,the corm sits on top of the soil and the plant is now falling to the side. I lean it up against something so as to keep it upright.But when it is upright then the stalks of the plant start to bend unless I can prop them up as well.

Q1.Can the Corm be planted deeper into the soil or is it better to stake it.
Q2. Can anything be done to keep the stalks from bending?


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RE: Banana plant care questions

  • Posted by rednofl 9b Goldenrod Fl hz (My Page) on
    Fri, Mar 18, 11 at 7:07

Generally the crom starts a little below the soil.


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RE: Banana plant care questions

I live in Birmingham Alabama (not sure what my zone is). Do I need to bring my banana trees in> If not, do I cut them down int he fall and cover with mulch? If I do that, do I cut them down before or after the first frost? I know people who leave them out all year but mine died last year.


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RE: Banana plant care questions

We live in Attalla and bring some of the smaller ones in as we also had them to die. But we have gumbo type soil and they don't drain well! We have been adding top soil each year and have had success in our bananas coming back with cutting them down after they turn from the freeze and then covering them with a bag of mulch which we cut open on the ground side. Good luck!! P.S. we actually have bananas for the 1st time this year - but it is a plant we brought in the garage for the winter!!


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RE: Banana plant care questions

Hi. Last year our banana "trees" did pretty well out by the pool planted in the ground. Huge undertaking bringing them in. In the 5 years I've been growing them have yet to have one we put into "dormancy" sprout from the top. Always had the stalk rot and then they start over from the corn. (want to see how big they get if they can start from 5 or 6 feet tall! Last year I stored them in the unheated garage on a huge shelf I made. Not one made it. They almost all came back, but the stalk rotted. Thought maybe not enough air circulation and laying on their side was the issue. This past year stored them upright and heated the garage to a min. of 40 F. Some rotted but some are still firm. My question is do they look like they will make it? I just put them outside and the stalks are firm but a pale cream color. The ones you'll see in the pics on the link below are of course green with leaves as these small ones wintered in the house. My thought is another strikeout, which would cut our banana tree tropical pool area idea back considerably! Can anyone who knows about banana trees take a look at the photos of the trees and give me an idea if they look dead or if this is how they are supposed to look after 6-7 months in a cold garage! Thanks!

Here is a link that might be useful: bananas just planted in N.J. from winter storage.


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RE: Banana plant care questions

  • Posted by bamatufa 7 - Trussville, AL (My Page) on
    Wed, May 14, 14 at 20:07

It's hard to tell but good chance they are still alive.The cream color one looks alive to me . Some varities are late starters. If you are determined to have bananas I would suggest finding Basjoos and planting them along side these.Very cold hardy especially once they are established. Mulch them heavy, cover with plastic and let them over winter in the ground. Established bananas come back large. Although they are starting from the ground it is not like planting a newly potted plant.


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RE: Banana plant care questions-Should I repot?

I purchased a musa dwarf lady finger from Logee's a few months' ago. I killed it (almost) by re-potting using a potting soil containing fertilizer and by over-watering. I did get it out of the Miracle Grow potting mix and into Pro-Mix, but the main plant died and a new shoot emerged from the base. Now the little plant has two very small leaves (less than 1" tall). It seems to be struggling and growing very slowly. So, should I repot it back into a small pot? The 6" pot it is in seems to stay very wet for a long time. What about fertilizer? What about sun? It gets full sun for 8 hours. Is that too much for this little plant? I'd love to see this little baby make it. Thanks for any help!


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RE: Banana plant care questions

I live in Atlanta & for 6 years my banana plants have survived the winter by simply letting the leaves droop in the winter & covering the ball with plenty of pine straw. I dug up one smaller one & brought it in the house & it was the only one the survived the winter. The rest did not make it including my tallest which was 13-14 feet tall. If I haven't seen any buds in the ground as of now are they all gone?


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RE: Banana plant care questions

  • Posted by lac1361 z9a Lake Charles, LA (My Page) on
    Tue, May 27, 14 at 10:11

A lot of my tropicals are late showing up due to the persistent cold fronts in March and April here along the Gulf Coast. Wait another few weeks.

Steve


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