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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 04-10-2019, 05:33 PM   #1 (permalink)
 
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Angry Musa basjoo never makes it

Hey guys, it's been a minute (by a minute I mean 10 years ).
So, I've been growing Musa basjoo for years and years now, and it always dies in the winter, but here's the odd part. I'm in zone 6a, it's planted on the south side in light shade, does fantastic during the growing season, is planted in compost, and protected pretty well for the winter. This year I surrounded it with black plastic bags filled with leaves, covered the open areas with leaves, covered the top with a thin piece of black cloth, and then covered that with greenhouse plastic. The mulch is super dry when I uncover it, but for some reason it always dies along with the pups.
One year, I put some in a west facing spot in the garden and they came back from the pseudostems in the spring. It was an average winter too, and I just mulched them and covered them with a garbage can; nothing fancy.
Honestly, I have no idea why that spot doesn't fare well after winter. Anyone know why? The Cautleya ginger comes back, the Aspidistra's remain green, my Trachy did great too. Everything seems fine but the basjoo. Honestly, it's driving me crazy, so any tips would be great.

Thanks
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Old 04-11-2019, 08:25 AM   #2 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Musa basjoo never makes it

The wiki says they are good down to -3 degrees. What temps do you hit in your winter?
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Old 04-11-2019, 04:23 PM   #3 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Musa basjoo never makes it

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The wiki says they are good down to -3 degrees. What temps do you hit in your winter?
I wouldn't say basjoo is hardy down to -3 degrees...that's quite a random and too precise a number. It doesn't take into account if that's with protection or not, the mother plant's survival, or just the corm's or pup's etc. Mine survived below -3 but have died at temps above 0 as well. The ultimate low isn't really the main factor, here: it has to be something else. Maybe spring thawing and freezing, maybe fungal disease, maybe the prep was wrong; I don't know. But ultimate low temps can be ruled out, as they survived much lower temps even in my experience and others near me.
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Old 04-11-2019, 06:13 PM   #4 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Musa basjoo never makes it

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Originally Posted by BananaLee View Post
I wouldn't say basjoo is hardy down to -3 degrees...that's quite a random and too precise a number. It doesn't take into account if that's with protection or not, the mother plant's survival, or just the corm's or pup's etc. Mine survived below -3 but have died at temps above 0 as well. The ultimate low isn't really the main factor, here: it has to be something else. Maybe spring thawing and freezing, maybe fungal disease, maybe the prep was wrong; I don't know. But ultimate low temps can be ruled out, as they survived much lower temps even in my experience and others near me.
I was just quoting the wiki.
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Old 04-11-2019, 06:36 PM   #5 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Musa basjoo never makes it

DRAINAGE, drainage, drainage and a few more drainages :-). We have killed innumerable basjoos in every possible location on over 100 acres - BUT finally found the perfect, and MOST unlikely places - on top of a root cellar, on top of perfectly drained soil piles. We always thought that as they grew so fast and needed so much water that they were happy with normal locations. No way. DRY,DRY,DRY and now we can grow it anywhere - just treat it like a xeric plant :-) (and we have a very large xeric garden - largest on east coast).
We never water in summer (though plants are limited to 10-12 feet). We are considering trying water during droughts as we should be able to get much better height as we have seen at various other gardens. We also do not mulch in winter (have tried it - made no difference)
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Old 04-11-2019, 09:00 PM   #6 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Musa basjoo never makes it

I am St Louis MO zone 6. When I planted my Basjoos years ago I put several inches of fresh new wood clips over the area. Since then When I cut off the frozen dead plants I lay them across the area. So the mulch is getting pretty thick. Most years I do not give them any further care. A few years ago the drought was severe enough that they wilted so I had to water heavily a few times.

Last winter here, was very hard on many perennials. From Oak and pine trees on down. I lost a crepe myrtle and half of my basjoo mat. It was started with several pups in a row. March was a great spring month and everything budded. Then the month of April was very cold. It was late May before it looked like spring again.

This year I put black bag filled with leaves around one pseudostem cutting it at about three feet. Then covered it with a plastic tub. I will not uncover until the middle of May. Hoping to save that much and get a bloom.

With all that mulch the ground temp is very slow warming up; even tho I am in full sun.
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Old 04-20-2019, 11:37 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Musa basjoo never makes it

It pains me to hear about your losses, but hopefully we can help. I agree that drainage is key. I have only had mine 2 years but mine were massive early this year. Most of mine are planted above the drive lane level on a slight incline, so all the water drains to the lane instead of just sitting around my plants. Check out my post: Basjoo's fruiting before frost in 20-30 days

Even the basjoos I didn't over-winter or used traditional methods for still had the pups pop up a week or 2 ago. But every basjoo I have is planted either in a raised bed or on a hill. Drainage is key. Basjoos can supposedly go to -20F. Try planting them in a raised bed or on a slope this year. It has worked for me. Mine are already a month ahead of schedule!

If none of yours survived even with all that prep, I'd say that they were subjected to root rot. That's the only way I can think of that they all died. Usually the underground pups always survive even without any protection. Hope this helps.
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Old 04-20-2019, 11:41 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Musa basjoo never makes it

Basjoo's fruiting before frost in 20-30 daysOk my link doesn't seem to work.. try this

Edit* JK the first link works now, magically XD
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Old 04-21-2019, 12:00 AM   #9 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Musa basjoo never makes it

Thanks so much, everyone! I really do appreciate the help. It may be drainage. I'm definitely gonna check out that post, Nick! That's amazing you got it to bloom! Though my garden bed is pretty much straight up compost and everything get's really big, it isn't sloped or anything, so I'll add some more and make a little hill where the next one will be planted. It isn't in full sun though (a few hours of shade), but I don't think that's too big a deal as it got the same size as the ones in full sun.
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Old 04-21-2019, 12:05 AM   #10 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Musa basjoo never makes it

Quote:
Originally Posted by pjkfarm View Post
DRAINAGE, drainage, drainage and a few more drainages :-). We have killed innumerable basjoos in every possible location on over 100 acres - BUT finally found the perfect, and MOST unlikely places - on top of a root cellar, on top of perfectly drained soil piles. We always thought that as they grew so fast and needed so much water that they were happy with normal locations. No way. DRY,DRY,DRY and now we can grow it anywhere - just treat it like a xeric plant :-) (and we have a very large xeric garden - largest on east coast).
We never water in summer (though plants are limited to 10-12 feet). We are considering trying water during droughts as we should be able to get much better height as we have seen at various other gardens. We also do not mulch in winter (have tried it - made no difference)
Wow, I never thought of not watering it...that's super interesting. I wonder how my results would be as Michigan is a lot dryer than the rest of the eastern states...some areas get the same amount of rain as central Texas. But I might just try that and see how it goes 👍
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Old 04-21-2019, 12:20 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: Musa basjoo never makes it

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Originally Posted by BananaLee View Post
Thanks so much, everyone! I really do appreciate the help. It may be drainage. I'm definitely gonna check out that post, Nick! That's amazing you got it to bloom! Though my garden bed is pretty much straight up compost and everything get's really big, it isn't sloped or anything, so I'll add some more and make a little hill where the next one will be planted. It isn't in full sun though (a few hours of shade), but I don't think that's too big a deal as it got the same size as the ones in full sun.
Yes, give that a shot. And no problem! Just want to help out! So far, I have loved basjoos even though I have over 100 (small) ones from a friend! I only winterized the "showpieces" haha.. but the ones on random hills with partial sun or the ones with full shade are still returning very fast! That's how I decided drainage must be the key: No nannas here are happy on flat ground. Also, observe which areas stay wet this summer or moist. In the winter, this means they will be even wetter! Some plants are fine with this but bananas hate wet feet in the winter! So observe and avoid those places for nanas, unless you add loads of sand to fill them in.

The random ones I have that aren't showpieces are still awesome to have, but I recommend only focusing on your showpieces. That way, you always have backups incase your main ones fail.

Also, compost isn't too great for drainage. Most of mine are planted in clay soil, and I added loads of sand to fill the holes so they have adequate drainage. To compensate for the lack of nutrients, I just use $10 Walmart 10/10/10 fertilizer every month... about 1-3 cups (10oz cups) depending on the grove size monthly. Every month until temps reach 60F, then I stop. This way they still have loads of nutrients. I also water each showpiece bunch for about 5 minutes during summers with little rain every 3 or 4 days. But here in VA last year it was extra rainy so I didn't have to.

Hope this helps

People will say this fertilizer isn't the best, but hey we aren't trying to have the perfect plants. Just ones that work every year with little to no maintenance (and cheaper prices)

*edit* To clarify the 60F thing I said... I fertilize them throughout the summer until fall temps reach 60F, then I stop
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Seeking: Musa Itinerans var. xishuanbannaensis, French Red Plantain, Peekeli, and Ensete ventricosum.

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Old 04-21-2019, 12:27 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Default Re: Musa basjoo never makes it

Also, wait a few months before fertilizing new nanas, because they become susceptible to fertilizer burn. I learned this the hard way. Wait for them to establish and send up new pups. Wish you luck this year... keep us updated! Also post a few pics of the areas they are planted if you want.. I recommend Flicker because it doesn't have a view-limit on pics like photobucket does. Wish you luck and happy basjoos!
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Seeking: Musa Itinerans var. xishuanbannaensis, French Red Plantain, Peekeli, and Ensete ventricosum.
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Old 04-21-2019, 09:22 AM   #13 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Musa basjoo never makes it

At Geo Webster - PLS, Please let us know in May how it worked. I am considering doing the very same thing to see if I can preserve at least the corm of the largest pstems (doubt the pstems will survive as it for sure will get cold even with bags of leaves piled up. I was also going to cover the entire pile with a sheet of plastic to keep water out - weigh it down and use white plastic to prevent overheating - maybe even chuck a couple of pine branches over plastic so sun does not heat it up too much.
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Old 04-21-2019, 10:34 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Default Re: Musa basjoo never makes it

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Originally Posted by pjkfarm View Post
At Geo Webster - PLS, Please let us know in May how it worked. I am considering doing the very same thing to see if I can preserve at least the corm of the largest pstems (doubt the pstems will survive as it for sure will get cold even with bags of leaves piled up. I was also going to cover the entire pile with a sheet of plastic to keep water out - weigh it down and use white plastic to prevent overheating - maybe even chuck a couple of pine branches over plastic so sun does not heat it up too much.
Is overheating a thing? Oops.. didn't know that.. assuming you mean so they don't start growing on warm days in Jan and Feb under the plastic like mine did XD I had to walk around breaking the tips through the plastic all winter. But hey, more heat means more protection right?
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Seeking: Musa Itinerans var. xishuanbannaensis, French Red Plantain, Peekeli, and Ensete ventricosum.
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Old 04-21-2019, 04:50 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Default Re: Musa basjoo never makes it

Mine is on the north east side of the house and never gets any sun in Winter.
It is well protected during that time. I belive it is better for them to have a rest the whole winter than being cooked at day time and go back to freezing for the night.
I fared well this way, even with up to two weeks of prolonged frost in some years. My lowest so far was maybe -14 C.
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Old 04-21-2019, 05:18 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Default Re: Musa basjoo never makes it

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Mine is on the north east side of the house and never gets any sun in Winter.
It is well protected during that time. I belive it is better for them to have a rest the whole winter than being cooked at day time and go back to freezing for the night.
I fared well this way, even with up to two weeks of prolonged frost in some years. My lowest so far was maybe -14 C.
Dang they have some nice size so far! Looks like you preserved almost all of the pseudo... How the heck did you do that? (I have to overwinter 18 groves so hopefully it was a fairly simple method haha).

They look amazing so far though!
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Seeking: Musa Itinerans var. xishuanbannaensis, French Red Plantain, Peekeli, and Ensete ventricosum.
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Old 06-15-2019, 05:09 PM   #17 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Musa basjoo never makes it

Olympia, WA, here and the Winter before last year (2017-2018 ) was unusually mild here on the West Coast. (This was the same year you had a devastating freeze on the East Coast that killed back a lot of long-established plants)

The Musa basjoo, which is a fairly common ornamental planted in people's yards around here, did not die to the ground that Winter, in fact the leaves still seemed to be alive by the end of January (although the big fronds looked pretty wilty and kind of trashed). There were big camellia bushes in bloom on New Years Day.
This Winter (2018-2019 ) however, all the bananas seemed to die to the ground. It was a colder Winter than usual.
zone 8a here

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Old 06-16-2019, 11:27 AM   #18 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Musa basjoo never makes it

[IMG][/IMG]

I'm in Illinois and my Basjoos made it through the winter....but mother didn't. Lots of pups, and mother started growing, but then (I think I uncovered too soon) died. I mulched heavily in fall (straw, leaves, pine needles) then covered all with a tarp. Our winter was a bad one (below 0, winds) and spring was no better.
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Old 06-16-2019, 11:42 AM   #19 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Musa basjoo never makes it

The Basjoos today, I have already taken multiple pups off, wanting to leave 3 main stems.[IMG][/IMG]
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Old 06-27-2019, 03:42 PM   #20 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Musa basjoo never makes it

Here in Denver, I'm at zone 6a, and have had little success with the basjoos. I could only get them to come back from the ground, and then had very little growth (maybe up to 3' over the summer)

Last year I found a good deal and a rather large red banana (I don't know what the specific variety is) and it got to around 10' last year. We bought a small greenhouse last year, so I dug it up (these things have a much wider trunk, so it was rather heavy!), put it in a big pot, and it lived in the greenhouse. Now, after moving it back outside last month, it's already at least as big as the end of last summer! My only concern now is that it may be too big to dig up this coming fall. I may have to chop it off to save it.

Oddly, I missed a few elephant ear bulbs when I dug them out last fall and some came back on their own. I didn't mulch them or anything. I had no clue those were that hardy!
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