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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 01-26-2007, 10:35 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default M. basjoo in Zone 9a (Sunset 14)?

We're in the process of planning our backyard which I'd like to have a tropical flavor. So far everything is just dirt, no hardscape yet. During this last cold snap, our temps got down to the 20s F. (our highs last summer were 110). I'm considering the M. basjoo because it is cold hardy but wondering how it will fare in our region. I'd prefer to leave the basjoo in ground over the winter and just protect it some way. I understand that rocks nearby (or walls) will give off heat at night and am wondering about adding lighting that during frost periods we could leave on near the frost tender plants. At most I guess we have about a week of nighttime temps below freezing in particularly cold years. Mostly we're in the 30-40s at night, with winter highs in the 40-60s, although last year we had one week of 80 F in February. Since we get very dry here during summer I'm also wondering about adding misters in the planting areas that have more subtropical needs. Does any of this sound practical?

A neighbor of mine over the fence has a few banana plants that were left by the previous owner of their home and the cold really did in the leaves which got frostbitten and are now curled and brown. It made me wonder, what's the best approach? For example, should I let the plant be during the fall and add protection around the base and then cut off any leaf/stalk damage after winter's passed OR should I cut the foliage down before winter while adding protection at the base. If you cut down the base, could you cover it with something like the cone covers they have for roses? (I've seen some posts where people mentioned hay and some fabric as a form of protection.)

BTW as you can probably tell, I'm new to all of this and this is my first backyard since I was a kid at home. I know how expensive landcaping can be so am trying to learn now before I plant. I should also mention that I intend the plant to be solely for foliage, not fruit (not even sure whether M. basjoo has fruit?). Thanks for any advice you can give.

Last edited by DebCA : 01-26-2007 at 10:43 PM. Reason: emphasis
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Old 01-27-2007, 03:25 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: M. basjoo in Zone 9a (Sunset 14)?

In Zone 9A CA you have many more options than Musa Basjoo! That's about our only option here in Norway! Musa Basjoo is almost idiot-proof and very cold hardy, but does not have fruit-quality or too showy inflorescence. From what I understand it's been a terribly and unusually cold year in all of CA. Since you state that you do not want fruit, musa Basjoo is a possibility.

But the different types of banana-plants can look very different. For colour you might want to add Musa Sikkimensis, wich is also a heavyweighter in terms of cold-hardiness. Musa Basjoo is plain-lime-green, and has relatively large folds in the leaves. Musa Balbisiana has rounded leaf-bases, and tends to be huge and waxy. Musa Cheesmani has an almost black stem, and carries it's long, slender leaves almost horizontally, and the dwarf forms such as dwarf brazilian can carry it's short and wide leaves almost upright. So many choices for a z9 gardener!

If you should want fruit someday, I would try some of the hardier cultivars.
From the top of my head, I can say that some people on this board from CA have had success growing Rajapuri, Apple, Orinoco, and Brazilian. Ice Cream might be a good option for you too.

It's good that you included bananas in your designs, because the tropical and luxurious impact of these plants are really worth the effort.

Good luck
Erlend
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Old 01-27-2007, 11:18 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: M. basjoo in Zone 9a (Sunset 14)?

Hi DebCA

I am also living in zone 9a and some of the bananas said to be hard for zone 9 are probably hard in zone 9b but in my experience not in my zone
(I killed a couple of them) :2687:

I protect my plants until they have several steams and are big enough and this is usually the second year after planting them in my garden. I mainly grow them from seed and I plant them always late in spring when they are about 8-10 month old but it depend on how fast they grew. The species/varieties I have now planted in my garden are

M. basjoo (regular)
M. basjoo ‘Sakhalin’(In my experience no hardier then the regular form but more robust in shape)
M. sikkimensis (regular)
M. nagensium ‘Florale Noir’

And with steam protection for this year


M. sikkimensis ‘Red Tiger’
M. yunnanesis
M. cheesmani



I still have several Banana species in pots that I will probably plant next year outdoor (If I can found place in my garden )

I tried in the past several edible bananas (Rajapuri, Orinoco, Saba, Goldfinger ..) but with bad result. Only Orinoco survived a heavy frost we had but I had to plant it into a pot fir recovering it, and bring it inside during winter, so I decide to try with ornamental ones with better results until now.

I wish you Good luck with yours ¡¡
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Old 01-28-2007, 02:26 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: M. basjoo in Zone 9a (Sunset 14)?

Thanks Mrbungalow and Barna for your input. I'm encouraged by both of your replies.

Mrbungalow, I checked out your photos and was surprised, considering you're in Norway which I think of as being VERY cold and not always sunny!, to see how well your plants are doing (I'm assuming you over winter all of them--hope that's the correct terminology). Nice job! How warm do you get during the summers there BTW? As you suggested I will definitely do more research on the other varieties you mentioned. When looking at your photos I noticed that your plants were against a "stone" wall. How much do you think that helps, particularly in your part of the world? As mentioned in my original post, I will consider adding some stones and rocks to the area to help out with the nighttime cold during the winter. I'm planning on planting my musas where they get south and west sun. One area is more windprone than the other so once the musa grow above the fence line I'm sure I'll have some leaf shredding.

Barna, thanks for the photo showing how you have protected the stalks/trunk of your plants. As they say a picture is worth a thousand words. In the spring do you cut off the leaves and part of the trunk? I'm assuming that the frost damages them each winter even with the straw. I also appeciate your list of what you are growing and have had luck (or not) with. Nice to hear from someone in my zone region. I see you grow some of the same plants Mrbungalow mentioned considering. I haven't looked yet to see if you have pictures posted but will do so after posting.

I guess I should be looking at buying some plants now and keeping them in our garage in the hopes that our backyard will get finished by summer this year. I doubt I'm up to trying to grow them from seed like you, Barna, so will start looking for small plantings to start with. How much growth do you get each year? I didn't even realize Banana plants had seeds! so I'm learning a lot already!!

I went to our local library today; no books found on Musa. Just small listings in plant books so you guys are really a helpful source of information. Any reading material on the subject you'd recommend?

Thanks a heap of bananas for the help.
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Old 02-02-2007, 12:44 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: M. basjoo in Zone 9a (Sunset 14)?

Hi Deb,

I'm also a newbie, and live in CA Z9/14 (with some marine influence, aka Delta breezes) just east of Sacramento.

I am planting edibles (CA Gold, Dw. Orinoco, Goldfinger, Dw. Brazilian) and plan to protect them overwinter (where they're planted) by using frost covers, bare ground/watering in the peripheral areas, black plastic ground cover around the p-stem to keep the cold and rain off the corms (as well as weed barrier) with a riverrock 'mulch' overlay for thermal mass/heat sink, Christmas light tree trunk nets around the P-stems for additional heat on the coldest nights. I'll have drip irrigation under the plastic for summer watering.

I'm also planting some of the more tender ones next to my south facing garage wall (large thermal mass) that I'll cover in winter to create an outdoor tropical 'room'/greenhouse.

Others have used large rubbermaid buckets full of water for heat sinks and various overhead and stem covers and frost protection.

The banana corms should survive as long as you plant in a good draining soil and let it dry out as they go dormant in fall. If you can keep the pseudostem from freezing/rotting, then your chances of getting fruit go up as well.

Good luck!

Jeff
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Old 02-06-2007, 04:24 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: M. basjoo in Zone 9a (Sunset 14)?

Thanks, Microfarmer, for sharing what you're doing. Being in my same zone it will be interesting to follow your edibles. I'll probably start out with M. basjoos the first year our yard is in but I'd love to try my luck with an edible after that.

BTW your post mentioned "heat sinks". I'm totally unfamiliar with this. Can you provide more info?
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