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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 11-23-2012, 07:20 PM   #1 (permalink)
 
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Default A list of suitable cultivars

Hi everyone!
Long time lurker, first time poster.
As many of you, on this forum, i'm hoping to grow bananas in a less than ideal climate.
You can see that i live in central Italy, wich itself isn't the classical place for bananas.
Our climate is pretty different from the USA; summers are decent but are limited to 3 months, in wich we have true tropical climate (on the dry side).
Spring and autumn vary a lot; you can safetly assume that reliabe growt can't start before middle april (for the most cold tolerant bananas), and stops somewhere during october (a bit later for nanas with a lot of B in them). So, we have about 6 months, on a good year, of growt (things go better in southern italy, where people can grow cavendish effortlessy, but unluckily this isn't my case).
Anyway, winters are the hard part, and the most hard to describe.
They are usually cold and damp. The average minimum temperature of my city during winter is 1C (34F) and the average max is 10C (50F). This is the same average temperature you find in Atlanta (USDA zone 7a-b).
However, unless i get exceptionally unlucky, lowest minimum temperature aren't as bad. You know, around here is filled with olive trees, and we have some citrus in gardens (i have a lemon on the south side of my house wich i cover every year with some frost cloth, and it survived last 20 years). We can expect -5 (23F) every year, for a single night, on bad years even lower, and in catastrophic years -10 (14F).
Now, i'm hoping to get some plant in ground growing, in a sheltered location (but possibly without using a shelter), and having it to grow a bunch.
I'm not hoping to harvest bananas on regular basis, but if we get a coulpe of mild winters, i hope to get a bunch.
Is that doable? It's pretty hard to find a USA climate comparable to mine (i searched a lot but i don't seem to find a place with similiar average temperatures and minimum temperatures) but i know that people here come from all around the world and maybe someone has done something similiar.

However coming to the real question:
During this years i have searched around and made some effort to see if there is a way to reach my goal. I tried the dig up method (with "dwarf namwah", "rajapuri" and "comune di sicilia") but i'm not completly satisfied. Since i wanted to try to overwinter the bananas in ground,i made this list of cultivars wich may prove useful for my project, and should be pretty cold hardy: i'd love to hear comments from you on them.
Expecially i'd love to know how long takes their bunch to mature, since i can't afford bunches that need more than 5 months, don't matter how much cold hardy they may be. The cultivars are:

Helen's hybrid
Chini Champa
Malbhog
Cardaba
Pahari Kela
Saba

I hope they aren't a collection of broken dreams!
I should be able to find all of them pretty easily, with the exception of Pahari Kela, wich i'd love to buy, if someone can give me a reliable source.
I'll buy them on next spring, but since i like to organize thing well in advance, i'm asking now.
Thanks to everyone contributing!
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Old 11-24-2012, 08:56 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: A suitable list of cultivars

Hi Pan ---- how are things in Firenze? As far as your banana list, I am growing the Chini Champa and have grown the Saba. The CC is naitive to the foothills of the Himalayas and can take some cool temps. Mine were just planted this year with fruit expected in May of next.

I stopped with the Saba because it is a giant and can not take the winds. Mine was fruiting when it blew down just missiung the pool enclosure. Massive trunk with a 20 inch caliper. Also it will take about 16 months to fruit from a pup plus 3 to 4 months to ripen.

How is your mango that you built the enclosure for?

Dan
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Old 11-25-2012, 01:29 PM   #3 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: A suitable list of cultivars

Hey Dan, thank you for your suggestions! They can be lifesaver, expecially regarding Saba.
Chini champa seems a good one, and i guess it can give some good results, if provided with a reasonable cover. I'm thinking about something to avoid the cold water entering in the place where the central leaf emerges. Some kind of simple cap, where air can pass trough but rain cant, to avoid rot.

I hoped Saba a bit more stable. Since my best spot for them (a less cold one, thanks to the microclimate) is close to the neightbours house, i guess i'll have to pass on them. I don't want my banana to fall on my neightbour's car!
The time needed to fruit isn't as crucial, to me, as is the time needed for the bunch to mature, since i'm choosing between long-time fruiter and no fruit at all. But i get your point.

The mango is doing nicely, flushing right now, under the enclosure. I expect the next flush to be the first flush of flowers for this year.
So far the weather has been reasonably hot, and despite today being 53F, we sill haven't had our first freeze. But i'm sure it will arrive in the next couple of week.
Men, i hate winter.

Oh, by the way, for those interested, i found this one:
Banana Trial in South Georgia. Nothing really new, but interesting anyway.
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Old 11-25-2012, 02:10 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: A suitable list of cultivars

Pan ---- another cultivar that U of Ga is pushing is Viente Cohol for the Ga niche market. Planting 2 to 3 foot pups inground after last frost yields guaranteed harvest in the fall.

I got one this year and expect fruit in 2013. The VC is referred to as a "short cycle" musa.

Keep that mango alive and post pics when fruit set.

BTW, I will be in Firenze in April next year after the ship makes stops in Portugal and Spain.

Dan
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Old 11-25-2012, 03:19 PM   #5 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: A suitable list of cultivars

I second Saba mine was 15ft or taller and I had to tie it down in the last hurricane winds we had here. All my other nanners were fine even the Orinoco that was right behind it in size. But it has a large mat of pups around it to help support it.
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Old 11-25-2012, 08:48 PM   #6 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: A suitable list of cultivars

@Dan
Viente Cohol seems a nice choice but unluckly it hasn't been avaiable in europe, so far. Maybe i can find some nursery willing to sell me one, outside from EU.
It's pretty strange that while U of Ga is actively reproducing VC, in europe no other nursery started reproducing that aswell. At least for bananas USA and EU have pretty much same species in nurseries.
The idea of a 3 feet pups capable of fruiting before winter is mouth watering indeed, little pups can be overwintered in home with little effort, while a 9' pseudostem can't, and hast to undergo under some level of stress: both the digging and the overwintering are pretty difficoult. BUT, i'm not sure if, after the last frost, i get enough time for it to fruit, weater here takes quite some time before getting hot. It has to be tested, maybe i myst recover bigger pups.

Let me know when you are about to come in my city!

@blownz281: Thank you for your suggestion. Saba seem pretty dangerous outside a forest! Luckily we here don't get anything close to an hurricane, regarding winds. The strongest wind gust of 2011 was 52 miles/hour.
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