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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 01-22-2008, 04:58 PM   #1 (permalink)
 
Location: Bowstring, MN
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Cold How cold is too cold?

New to the banana plants and have a question for next year....
I live in Northern Minnesota, like in zone 3 as a matter of fact. The temps here frequently get far below zero in the winter. Last week we had 25 below for a couple nights, not a very happy place for nana's to be
I have a room in my home that is not used in the winter, basicly in the summer I use it for a bar for entertaining and then to save on heating I leave it unheated and shut up for the winter, but the room get's very very cold when not in use, frequently around freezing as a matter of fact. I of course would be keeping the plants in dormancy conditions as I have read on this site, leaves trimmed, probably bareroot but would prefer to keep in their pots, and the room itself would be dark. Is it possible to keep banana's in this envirionment for dormancy or would this be to cold for them? I could try to heat the room with a heater of some sort but don't want my bill's getting out of hand in the winter when money's tight either (I am a full time bartender at a very busy resort but business drops in the winter). Would love to grow ice cream....read about this variety as a kid and have wanted to taste it ever since!! Thanks in advance for any answers or suggestions.........one last thing, if you were in my shoes what kinds would you grow? I would love to have large plants growing on my deck in the summer (potted of course)....
Also, do any of you have any information on other plants that I can't grow up here that can be handled the same way such as peaches and pears in particular? I would love to have large specimens of these growing in the spring as well, just to be the envy of my neighbors of course
Thanks again!
Ben
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Old 01-22-2008, 07:44 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: How cold is too cold?

hello and welcome to forum

know you would have to at least keep some above freezing, depending variety around 50F
some can be left outside with protection

check out some of AllenF post and photos, he is also in zone 3
plus few others here in the cold will help
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Old 01-22-2008, 11:01 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: How cold is too cold?

welcome to the forum!!
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Old 01-23-2008, 01:31 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: How cold is too cold?

Welcome to the forum Ben.. Finally another nut from Zone 3.

I am still relatively new here, growing Palms for 2 years and bananas for 1 year. I planted out 2 palms last summer and built a heated winter shelter for them. They are doing okay so far and have survived outside temps of -24.6*C/-12*F.

I plan to plant bananas outside next spring and shelter them outside next winter.

That may be too expensive for your priorities. I can provide some advice to help you accomplish what you want.

Your extra room may be a great find for keeping things growing in the winter. Hopefully you can use the sun to heat it a little more. Either put several thermometers in the room right away so that you can record the low temperatures at various spots in the room, or buy a remote thermometer set up with 3 sensors. I would suggest floor and ceiling level of the most exposed wall; and floor and ceiling level of the least exposed wall. Knowing how cold it gets through this winter will help you with determining how much, if any, extra heat you need. It will also help you decide if you can winter Ice Cream and other Bananas.

Suggestions:
Musa Basjoo- It is a plain banana that is supposed to grow to 15' in Vancouver. If it gets to 8' in z 3 we will be lucky. It loses it's leaves below 0*F but should survive at 40*F with leaves intact.

Musa Dwarf Cavendish- it is the 'tropical plant' banana that you can buy at Walmart and Home Depot. It is cheap to experiment with. Mine had frost damage at 31*F and lost almost all of it's leaves at 30*F. It is supposed to grow to about 8'. After 1 summer my largest one was 3'.

Yucca elephantipes- also labeled Cane Yucca at Walmart and Home Depot. Mine survived 23*F without any damage. You can buy them anywhere from 2' tall to 6' tall. They grow slowly compared to bananas.

Livistona chinensis- also called Chinese Fan Palm. Should survive 30*F. Easily damaged by wind. Usually trunkless with about 4' of fronds when you buy them at Home Depot or Walmart. I have 2 in an experiment this winter. I have insulated them against sudden and short freezes and left them outside unheated. Their fronds are frozen and I am hoping that they will regrow from their roots.

Cycas revoluta--also called King Sago Palm- Can be found at Walmart and Home Depot on occasion. Very small but unusual looking. Has survived 23*F without damage.

If you are interested in Palm trees, I would suggest that you join Palmsnorth.com. You will be the only person from Minnesota there but most members are zones 5 to 7. They come from Ontario, Illinois, Pennsylvania Kansas etc. as well as western Canada.

There are several members of Palms North that grow oranges. You may be able to do that as well. I am going to start Gardenias in the palm shelter this coming spring. You may be able to winter gardenias and rhododendrons in your room if you want.

That room may be a wonderful greenhouse if you can keep the temperatures above 35*F.

Allen
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Old 01-23-2008, 02:28 PM   #5 (permalink)
 
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Hiya Re: How cold is too cold?

Thanks to all for the warm welcomes and the kind suggestions!!!
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Old 01-24-2008, 12:31 PM   #6 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: How cold is too cold?

Who knows, maybe we will find a way of growing bananas other than the normal.
with so many of us being in different zones, I mean.
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Old 01-25-2008, 12:57 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: How cold is too cold?

Quote:
Originally Posted by otiscarnivorous View Post
New to the banana plants and have a question for next year....
I live in Northern Minnesota, like in zone 3 as a matter of fact. The temps here frequently get far below zero in the winter. Last week we had 25 below for a couple nights, not a very happy place for nana's to be
I have a room in my home that is not used in the winter, basicly in the summer I use it for a bar for entertaining and then to save on heating I leave it unheated and shut up for the winter, but the room get's very very cold when not in use, frequently around freezing as a matter of fact. I of course would be keeping the plants in dormancy conditions as I have read on this site, leaves trimmed, probably bareroot but would prefer to keep in their pots, and the room itself would be dark. Is it possible to keep banana's in this envirionment for dormancy or would this be to cold for them? I could try to heat the room with a heater of some sort but don't want my bill's getting out of hand in the winter when money's tight either (I am a full time bartender at a very busy resort but business drops in the winter). Would love to grow ice cream....read about this variety as a kid and have wanted to taste it ever since!! Thanks in advance for any answers or suggestions.........one last thing, if you were in my shoes what kinds would you grow? I would love to have large plants growing on my deck in the summer (potted of course)....
Also, do any of you have any information on other plants that I can't grow up here that can be handled the same way such as peaches and pears in particular? I would love to have large specimens of these growing in the spring as well, just to be the envy of my neighbors of course
Thanks again!
Ben
Hi Ben, I have a friend who lives in Superior, Wisconsin, and I know the conditions you have to live thru in the winters. I spent 5 weeks there one winter and it never got above 0*F and was frequently -20 or lower at night with a couple nights of -40 with a -120 windchill. brr...

For the potted bananas, I would choose the dwarf varieties as they are easier to move around and you can get by with smaller containers. If you must have the tall verieties, you can cut the p-stem down a bit to get them in and out of the house. As stated, citrus are a good choice and grapefruit and Mandarins are a bit more cold hardy (by a few degrees) than navel oranges and lemons (at least in my experience). Citrus ripens here in the winter and the near freezing helps our fruit to have such vibrant colors and sweet fruit.



I'm guessing that pears and peaches get their little buds frozen off up there. Sounds like you'll have most things in containers. Dwarf and semi dwarf trees will give fruit in containers for you, but look into rootstocks that like container growing. Wheels or a hand dolly will help you transport them in and out.

As for heating the room, you can make a heat exchanger with some old, used truck radiators hooked together, 2 small (efficient) fans, and some aluminum or copper tubing. Put one radiator in the non-heated room, and one in an adjacent heated room, close to a heat source (if possible). Connect them together with the tubing and run the tubing thru a wall or door so you have a closed loop. If it's anything like NWestern WI., you prolly have friends with old cars and trucks just sitting around rusting.

Put in a small pond pump in the tubing to circulate the water from the heated room to the cold room. Fill the setup with water. You want a slow flow, nothing too fast, so a small (125GPH of less) pond or fountain pump will do the job. use the fans to blow air thru the radiators. Again, just a slow airflow will do, nothing too fast. Shrouding the radiators will help. Double up if you use car or pickup truck radiators (2 per room, stacked back to back).

This setup should keep the temps up over freezing, without the added heating bills. Your electric use will go up slightly with the pump and fans, but it should be minimal as you'll be moving very little water and air and need only small fans and pump. A decorative box over the visible radiators (warm room) will hide their mechanical uglyness. Just leave space for the warm air to get to the radiator/s to warm the water.

Alternatively, you can make a permanent waterfall/pond/fountain in your heated room (planted with tropical plants) instead of the radiator/s for the warm side, but you'll need a catchbasin under the falls, and pump that water thru to the cold room and the cold return will spill over your falls. That'll clean up the 'look' and remove one fan from the setup.

Make the falls and catchbasin out of aluminum or copper (copper roof shingles and aluminum stock pot or chest freezer tub) and disguise them with rocks or slate. The downside is you'll need to top up the water as it evaporates and a power failure will stop the pump, and the water will then seek it's static level and 'may' overflow the catchbasin. Another possible downside is getting used to hearing water running all the time in your house, but I find it relaxing. Just an idea. I have not built this setup, but I have built a pond and waterfall...from a satellite dish...

http://www.pbase.com/microfarmer/full_pond
http://www.pbase.com/microfarmer/image/13075359

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There is no excuse for still having grass. I haven't mowed in 20 years. With all that space, I could plant another 100 bananas.
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Old 01-25-2008, 02:14 PM   #8 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: How cold is too cold?

Wow!! Thanks much for that informative post! That was very interesting...
I do plan on having the peaches and pears in pots and was thinking as you did that I would have to use the dwarf varieties
I live 2 hours west of Superior! Sometimes I wonder if we are all in serious need of a mental ward for choosing to stay up here in the winter
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Old 01-25-2008, 09:07 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: How cold is too cold?

Quote:
Originally Posted by otiscarnivorous View Post
Wow!! Thanks much for that informative post! That was very interesting...
I do plan on having the peaches and pears in pots and was thinking as you did that I would have to use the dwarf varieties
I live 2 hours west of Superior! Sometimes I wonder if we are all in serious need of a mental ward for choosing to stay up here in the winter
2 hours west of Superior...Got Farmland? After the unit is up it can be drained for summer, tubing separated, and stored, unless you like the pond idea. Maybe you could make back to back heat exchanging waterfalls, one in each room. It'd be a great conversation piece when you open your bar for the summer.
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Originally Posted by pitangadiego View Post
There is no excuse for still having grass. I haven't mowed in 20 years. With all that space, I could plant another 100 bananas.
My new hero...

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