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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 02-24-2019, 08:46 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default minimally edible bananas for 7b

I've read a little information about Musa velutina that suggested it might not be very hard to grow in-ground and to fruit here in my North Carolina zone 7b.
And I've also read that the pulp might actually be decent to eat apart from the seeds. So I'm wondering if there are actually bananas (Musa velutina or others) that I could grow in-ground with very simple winter protection (or none at all) that would also mature fruit fairly reliably in my location. Could I run Musa velutina bananas (or other sufficiently cold hardy bananas if there are any others) through a food mill to remove the seeds and have banana pulp I could use? Are my hopes for Musa velutina reasonable? Are there any other species I could similarly grow for fruit? If you were willing to make huge sacrifices in fruit quality (even to the point where a lot of people wouldn't even call the bananas edible any more) for the sake of ease of growing in zone 7b, what could you grow specifically for fruit?
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Old 02-24-2019, 02:36 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: minimally edible bananas for 7b

From the looks of velutina, you would be hard pressed to get a mouthful of pulp from one entire plant grown in tropical conditions and run through a food mill. I had one flower in PA but the fruit never filled in.

I would suggest trying to overwinter Orinoco in the ground with a large but simple protection scheme.

Bananas are relatively cheap plants so you can try several types and see what works for you. The big investment is in time, because it may take 2 or 3 years for a plant to get large enough to fruit.

Good luck!
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Old 02-25-2019, 08:32 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: minimally edible bananas for 7b

M. velutina will sprout from the ground and produce fruit in a season but they are 98% seed. You basically can just run the seeds around in your mouth and get a banana taste...but that’s about it.
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Old 02-26-2019, 09:56 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: minimally edible bananas for 7b

Sadly Rob is correct. I once counted the seeds! In a finger no larger than 2” long there was over 100 seeds! Without any exaggerating I would say they are 95% seed and 5% pulp. The pulp is also not mushy like your thinking. It’s very fluffy and hard. It’s all stuck to the seeds!

Dwarf Orinoco is a good choice. In 7b you could cut the leaves and make a 3 pole, triangle greenhouse with a small heat source. 100w old type bulb or 2.

A DO would work in a large pot as well. I had a friend in IL fruit one in a pot. You could also try a REAL raja puri. They aren’t picky and do great in pots! They only get 6’ in the best conditions! In a pot 5’ maybe. 3rd you could get an SDC that will for sure fruit. Like a Novak, or one from Logees, etc. they stay tiny. 3’ or so and will fruit in a pot.

Good luck! In 7b with just a little extra work you could fruit Orinoco overwintered outside (most winters).
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