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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 09-19-2006, 03:18 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Party Under the house overwintering. Where did this come from?

I think it was 2 years ago, when I first saw Frank's (Bigdog) photo showing a dozen or so bananas lined up on the ground like so many logs that he had pulled out from under his house. That photo just knocked my socks off! And this was Nashville, TN. What? Zone 7?

I had NO IDEA that bananas could go dormant and for that long.
Needless to say, this got me started growing bananas in Zone 9.

But have banana hobbyists in Northern climates been doing this for decades? Or is this something relatively new? Last 3 or 4 years?

Does anyone know who overwintered bananas (under the house, in the basement) first?
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Old 09-19-2006, 04:54 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Under the house overwintering. Where did this come from?

That's a great question, Mike! It has been going on for decades. I have no idea how it got started, or who originated the idea, but he/she was a genius! I have learned from others and adapted it to my own needs and experience. Everyone seems to have a slightly different wrinkle with their own method. Whatever works for you, do it! Some wrap the pseudostems in sheets, some wrap the corm in newspapaer or put in a plastic bag, etc. You just have to keep experimenting until you find a method that works. And not all bananas are created equal for this purpose either! Some deteriorate, or dessicate, rather remarkably, while others will hold a green leaf (or leaves) under the house for five months!
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Old 09-19-2006, 07:41 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Under the house overwintering. Where did this come from?

I don't know if that method started with plumeria people or the plumeria growers got it from banana growers, but it is a great method for keeping plumerias in cold climates. I dig mine in Nov and keep them in the barn like a bunch of sticks till April. Trouble is, if I did that with the bananas I would set them back for fruiting surely. TE
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Old 09-19-2006, 11:00 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Under the house overwintering. Where did this come from?

I don't know if this works, I am too chicken to try it out, but I have heard of people around here digging a trench and laying the pstem in that trench and covering it with soil and them some mulch. This sounds to me now( with more plant knowledge under my belt) that this is an invitation for rot, but in places without ground freezes, this could work and it would prevent dessication as well I would think.

Disclaimer- try this at your own risk.

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Old 09-20-2006, 07:49 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Under the house overwintering. Where did this come from?

Maybe a variation where you lay down a bunch hay in the trench, then lay down the plants, and then cover with alot of hay. It might be worth trying if you have some plants to spare and don't live toooo far north..
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Old 09-20-2006, 02:56 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Under the house overwintering. Where did this come from?

Frank- what gave YOU the idea you could store bananas under your house? I'm also curious what varieties that didn't store well for you.

Zac- I'm in a fairly mild climate that has a week or so of freezes to 24 deg. While I'm leaving many plants standing, I'm planning to lay some in a tarp, cover with woodchips and straw and pull the tarp over it. All this in the shade of a tree. I guess my problem would be that it might not be cold enough.
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Old 09-21-2006, 11:33 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Under the house overwintering. Where did this come from?

I have explained this kind of approach in other forums, more than 8 years ago. Most tropicals like bananas would suffer chilling injury due to the combined effect of sunlight and low temperature even if it is not freezing. So naturally, if you can keep your plants from exposure to strong light at low temperature but above freezing, you should be able to keep them alive, and that means basement of the house in cold areas.

What is chilling injury? I've been attentive in my Botany class more than 30 years ago, and in simplest terms is that when the cholorplasts are activated by sunlight, they get their electrons fired up, but since the rest of the photosynthetic apparatus is asleep (or very slow) due to low metabolic activities caused by low temperatures, no one else would accept the "flaming" torch (or the excited electrons), causing these electrons to dissipate energies indiscriminately (aka free radicals) injuring the plant tissues. Thus it happens at the combined effect of strong light and low temperature. Keeping your bananas on the drier side is to prevent them from rotting by molds. Thus a dark cool dry place is ideal for overwintering your bananas, where is the best place in your house to do it?
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Old 09-23-2006, 09:06 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Under the house overwintering. Where did this come from?

I believe it started in Victorian England a long time ago with Ensete Ventricosum. They would dig up huge plants and drag them into sheds with a horse and cart for the winter. Since the british were imperialists, they would bring lots of strange plants home and try to grow them. But I think Ensete came before musa species to England, and that is probably how things got started.

If there is a british user here, please feel free to fill me in.
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Old 09-23-2006, 02:22 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Under the house overwintering. Where did this come from?

I don't really care much who started it as anyone can independently come up with the same process of storage. When doing your own experimentations in the yard, one does not need to thoroughly search the whole world over if it has been done before or not. You just have to do it, there is tremendous fun in finding somethings out by yourself. These kinds of stuff doesn't make you any richer or poorer, only happier.

The medieval times British people might have come up with it without knowing the science behind them while the modern British have come up with very good scientific explanations behind them.
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Old 09-25-2006, 03:22 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Bananas Brindando Re: Under the house overwintering. Where did this come from?

The thought that bananas were first overwintered in England has a certain ring of truth to it! They were incredible collectors of all kinds of plants from their colonies. I've heard of references to them growing in greenhouses, but not digging up plants and putting them in sheds. Would love to look into that more.

For me, growing tropicals is a way for me to look outside and be reminded of places I've lived in or traveled to. But equally fascinating for me are all the stories that go with these plants. I think it's captivating reading about how Meyer Lemons were found and how the USDA plant explorer, Frank Meyer, disappeared and was last scene on the Yangtze River.

In my case, I remember going house to house in our village in Guatemala begging banana pups of different varieties. I knew slightly less than the little I know now of bananas. Everyone mocked me, because I brought back "hijos de agua" (water sprouts) and not a single "hijo de espada" (sword pup). Ah, there's nothing quite so satisfying as having a good laugh at the expense of the Gringo.
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