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Cold Hardy Bananas This forum is dedicated to the discussion of bananas that are able to grow and thrive in cold areas. You'll find lots of tips and discussions about keeping your bananas over the winter.


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Old 08-06-2019, 09:41 AM   #1 (permalink)
 
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Default Best bananas to dig each winter in the north

I've been growing M. basjoo for a number of years in NE Iowa, zone 4/5. I was able to overwinter it with good protection in 2017-2018 but it did not grow all that well in 2018, certainly not well enough that it felt like the work of protection paid off. So I dug my plants in 2018 and wintered them indoors. They are looking pretty nice this year so I might try protecting once more. But I'm also thinking that my love of banana plants might be best satiated by simply growing them seasonally and planning to take them in for the winter.

Since the main selling point of basjoo is its hardiness, I'm wondering what suggestions people have for seasonally grown bananas? In other words why dig basjoo every year if I could be growing something more desirable or interesting? I'd say the biggest selling points for me would be potential to reach large size, and attractive foliage. I may try one of the short-season fruiting varieties like Veinte Cohol and/or Patupi, but I don't want to make my choices based on expectations of fruiting, because I realize that with my growing season, an awful lot would have to line up just right to get fruits even with the short season bananas.
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Old 08-06-2019, 10:42 AM   #2 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Best bananas to dig each winter in the north

Best shot is probably Dwarf Orinoco.

Its gets about 5-8 feet of pstem (easier to dig up and move around), cold hardy (slightly longer growing season than other varieties), and people have had good success dry storing it during the winter. Figure it will take you at least three seasons with fruit harvested at the end of the third season.
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Old 08-07-2019, 06:29 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Best bananas to dig each winter in the north

Quote:
Originally Posted by brianrumsey View Post
I've been growing M. basjoo for a number of years in NE Iowa, zone 4/5. I was able to overwinter it with good protection in 2017-2018 but it did not grow all that well in 2018, certainly not well enough that it felt like the work of protection paid off. So I dug my plants in 2018 and wintered them indoors. They are looking pretty nice this year so I might try protecting once more. But I'm also thinking that my love of banana plants might be best satiated by simply growing them seasonally and planning to take them in for the winter.

Since the main selling point of basjoo is its hardiness, I'm wondering what suggestions people have for seasonally grown bananas? In other words why dig basjoo every year if I could be growing something more desirable or interesting? I'd say the biggest selling points for me would be potential to reach large size, and attractive foliage. I may try one of the short-season fruiting varieties like Veinte Cohol and/or Patupi, but I don't want to make my choices based on expectations of fruiting, because I realize that with my growing season, an awful lot would have to line up just right to get fruits even with the short season bananas.
Basjoos are still your best choice for a low maintenance cold hardy banana plant which you can leave outdoors.
If your plants are sited well and planted in rich great draining soil then a thick layer of mulch in the fall is really all the protection you need.
For fertilizer any inexpensive garden fertilizer will work. I use triple 19 or less.
Basjoo mats are somewhat fluid in size with older taller plants being replaced with smaller plants year to year ....some years they will be tall and others not so tall.

The Vc and Patupi need continous tropical conditions to thrive.
Your zone as well as mine does not provide either.
Neither tolerate being indoors for 7 months and the added resources to keep them healthy is cost prohibitive.

Akula had recommended an almost bullet proof Orinoco.....he is right.

Orinocos whether dwarf or regular size when planted in well ammended and great draining soil will reward you with that lush tropical look.
These plants are more tolerant to cooler temps and storing indoors whether in a container or a bareroot.
Orinocos are inexpensive, prolific, recover well in the spring and handle some abuse.
This is a perfect starter banana plant.

There are other tropical banana plants which can work but requirements to overwinter them become more involved.

Basjoos when planted correctly are still the best plant for a low maintenance garden feature in northern gardens.
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Old 08-07-2019, 07:21 AM   #4 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Best bananas to dig each winter in the north

As said Orinoco may be the one to work for you and from time to time even fruit for you.

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Old 08-07-2019, 07:51 AM   #5 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Best bananas to dig each winter in the north

Thanks for all of the great feedback so far. With a clear consensus on Orinoco it sounds like that's a definite direction for next year. I actually did have a Veinte Cohol when I lived in Kansas, and it survived (maybe not thrived...) after one indoor winter, but I lost it the next winter when my indoor storage unexpectedly froze.

What are dry storage temperature requirements? Unfortunately I don't have access to anything cooler than a 55-60F basement over the winter right now except for outdoor spaces that would drop well below freezing. When I've brought in my Basjoos recently I've actually potted them up, and they continue to grow slowly over the winter.

Thanks Cincinnana for the comments regarding basjoo survival. Drainage is an issue as the soil here is somewhat poorly drained. In 2017 it was a very dry fall so I felt OK about leaving them out, with a tarp to protect so they didn't get wet over the winter. Do you have recommendations about banana-friendly soil amendments to enhance drainage and fertility? I assume I'll have to create a bit of a mound to overcome the poorly drained surroundings.
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Old 08-07-2019, 08:03 AM   #6 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Best bananas to dig each winter in the north

[quote=brianrumsey;325691
What are dry storage temperature requirements? Unfortunately I don't have access to anything cooler than a 55-60F basement over the winter right now except for outdoor spaces that would drop well below freezing. When I've brought in my Basjoos recently I've actually potted them up, and they continue to grow slowly over the winter.

[B] I store mine in the basement that is 55F-60F in the winter. Some bare root, some in pots.[/b]

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Old 08-08-2019, 08:20 PM   #7 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Best bananas to dig each winter in the north

"What are dry storage temperature requirements? Unfortunately I don't have access to anything cooler than a 55-60F basement over the winter right now except for outdoor spaces that would drop well below freezing. When I've brought in my Basjoos recently I've actually potted them up, and they continue to grow slowly over the winter."

Excellent question, I have been wondering this as well in preparation for the upcoming winter, thanks for asking it.

In that vein, what about minimum indoor temps for overwintering Helen's Hybrid (very young, not ready for outdoors), or Dwarf Orinoco (whenever I can find it), or other similarly tender bananas either bare root or potted? I have 2 options: my basement which can get fairly warm (and dry) b/c our wood stove is down there, or my garage which can get down to 38/39 deg. on occasion, more often mid forties.

Thank you for any input.
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Old 08-09-2019, 12:09 AM   #8 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Best bananas to dig each winter in the north

Following up ... any thoughts on standard vs. dwarf Orinoco? Good sources? I see that Going Bananas has the dwarf. I am a fan of large plants, but I can imagine hauling and storage might be an issue depending on just how big they got. And if the dwarf was more likely to produce fruit here in Iowa that would be a big point in its favor for me. Going into posting this topic I didn't have great hope of producing fruit here but would love for that to happen if it could.
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Old 08-09-2019, 03:53 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Best bananas to dig each winter in the north

Quote:
Originally Posted by brianrumsey View Post
Do you have recommendations about banana-friendly soil amendments to enhance drainage and fertility? I assume I'll have to create a bit of a mound to overcome the poorly drained surroundings.
For inexpensive soil amendments you may use aged wood chips, leaves or any organic matter which you can get. Broken bags of material at the big box store work as a amendment. Some beds are prepped a few months in advance before planting. In our zone anything organic mixed in the soil in banana friendly. I use a tiller to turn the soil for new plantings.

Many beds are raised. After a few years of heavy mulching for the winter a beneficial topdressing will develop and your plants will thrive even more and the expanding mat will be better protected.

Last edited by cincinnana : 08-09-2019 at 03:59 AM.
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Old 08-10-2019, 08:17 AM   #10 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Best bananas to dig each winter in the north

Thanks for the soil advice. I have a nice pile of leaf mold that sounds like could work well for this application. If I have time maybe I'll be able to prep a bed before winter.
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Old 08-10-2019, 08:35 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Thanks for the soil advice. I have a nice pile of leaf mold that sounds like could work well for this application. If I have time maybe I'll be able to prep a bed before winter.
Pile high.
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Old 08-21-2019, 03:03 PM   #12 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Best bananas to dig each winter in the north

I have a red leaf Abysinnian that's on its 2nd year here in Denver. Right now, I'd say it's about 10' tall. They're beautiful and the leaves are huge!

Just before first freeze in October, I chopped it off right where the leaves were coming out, dug it up, put it in a big pot, and then put it in my small greenhouse. I left the heater on about 55 degrees all winter and it initially grew a couple leaves in the greenhouse, but then went dormant until March.

The downside is that these can get so huge that I don't know how many years I'll be able to do this. Should be fine this fall to dig up. I use a cart to haul it to the greenhouse.
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Old 08-23-2019, 06:52 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Quote:
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Thanks for the soil advice. I have a nice pile of leaf mold that sounds like could work well for this application. If I have time maybe I'll be able to prep a bed before winter.
prep now. with the mulch,.
first frost is in a few weeks or so.

Your plants are done prepare for the winter weather.

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Old 08-23-2019, 10:12 PM   #14 (permalink)
 
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prep now. with the mulch,.
first frost is in a few weeks or so.

Your plants are done prepare for the winter weather.
Don't say that just yet ... I'm still hoping to enjoy this year's garden another six weeks! Feels like it's just coming into its prime now.

But the biggest obstacle to spending time prepping for next year is a new baby as of last week.
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Old 08-25-2019, 03:16 PM   #15 (permalink)
 
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congratulations Brian!
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Old 08-26-2019, 12:14 PM   #16 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Best bananas to dig each winter in the north

Quote:
Originally Posted by sirdoofus View Post
"What are dry storage temperature requirements? Unfortunately I don't have access to anything cooler than a 55-60F basement over the winter right now except for outdoor spaces that would drop well below freezing. When I've brought in my Basjoos recently I've actually potted them up, and they continue to grow slowly over the winter."

Excellent question, I have been wondering this as well in preparation for the upcoming winter, thanks for asking it.

In that vein, what about minimum indoor temps for overwintering Helen's Hybrid (very young, not ready for outdoors), or Dwarf Orinoco (whenever I can find it), or other similarly tender bananas either bare root or potted? I have 2 options: my basement which can get fairly warm (and dry) b/c our wood stove is down there, or my garage which can get down to 38/39 deg. on occasion, more often mid forties.

Thank you for any input.
I have a small pup of dwarf orinoco about a foot tall if you want it for postage.
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Old 08-26-2019, 10:37 PM   #17 (permalink)
 
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Hey Sylvia - Thank you very much for the offer, that is very generous of you. I did find a source here in Canada and now have 2 fantastic looking plants, so I am good. Now we'll just have to see what I can do with them.

Again, I really appreciate your consideration!!!
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Old 09-09-2019, 02:41 PM   #18 (permalink)
 
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Don't say that just yet ... I'm still hoping to enjoy this year's garden another six weeks! Feels like it's just coming into its prime now.

But the biggest obstacle to spending time prepping for next year is a new baby as of last week.
I'm with you! My red banana is probably 12' at this point and looking perfect! Here in Denver, the first frost (which can actually be a wet snow), can be anywhere from the first week of October to early November. I've head years where my bananas and elephant ears were still standing in early November! Then there was last year, where I only made it to around Oct. 10th. I absolutely hate having to take it all down.
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Old 09-12-2019, 12:15 AM   #19 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Best bananas to dig each winter in the north

I'm in Illinois and I overwintered Basjoos in the ground last year, and they have a nice growth this year. They just got too big and heavy for me to dig and take in. I did use lots of leaves and straw for mulch covering it with a tarp for the winter. I plan to do that this year also. They overwinter great, hope they do so again this coming winter.[IMG][/IMG]
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Old 09-12-2019, 12:23 AM   #20 (permalink)
 
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[IMG][/IMG]
Overwintering basjoos in Illinois....using leaves and straw with tarp.
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