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Main Banana Discussion This is where we discuss our banana collections; tips on growing bananas, tips on harvesting bananas, sharing our banana photos and stories.


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Old 11-23-2009, 01:36 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Overwintering strategies.

Several weeks ago, I got all of my cold sensitive bananas, and assorted other tropicals ( ixora, ginger, orchid, anthurium, schefflera, etc.) inside. These were mostly in one gallon (6 inch) containers, but there were some 4 inch, and a few 3 gal. (10 inch).
The only things still outside are about 10 basjoos, in the ground, and about 50 in 14 inch or larger pots.
The inside plants will go into qne of two 9.5 foot bay windows, or in the warm cellar, under lights. This method has produced 100% success for the past few years. The plants are kept in their pots, and growing (not dormant) through the winter. The ones on the window sills get the natural light, and the ones in the cellar are under regular cheap shop lights, nothing fancy, or expensive. All the plants are watered like any other houseplants, about once a week. They all, bananas and others, continue growing over the winter, albeit somewhat slower than outside, in the summer.
As for the basjoos outside, with the ones in the ground, Ill contnue what I have done previously; that is to cut the leaves off, wrap the p-stem in several thicknesses of newspaper, and then plastic, or bubble wrap. Then I put a wire cage around them, fill with leaves, and put a tarp, over the whole thing. Last spring, when I uncovered, everything was intact, almost all the p-stems green right to the top. I left the one biggest pup, dug out and potted the rest and, within a couple of weeks the remaining plant had put out 9 new pups, which are several feet tall now. The only thing I might try differently with these, is I may add a few Christmas lights this year.
The basjoos, in the pots, are a different story I didn't lose any but, two years ago, with 6 to 8 foot stems, I decided to lay them down, before covering. In the spring, when I opened it up, they had already started growing, but shoots were anwhere from the base to almost a foot up the stem, and pointing up (right angles to the old p-stem). It took quite a bit of work to get that fixed. Last year, I left the pots standing. They made it, but died back to various heights on the stem. This year, I'm going to try to store them, bare root, in a cool (50F) basement.
An interesting observation: In about mid October, we had some heavy winds. The ones in the ground, and a few of the pups that I had dug out, and left in that location, really got shredded, some having almot all of the leaves broken. The ones in the pots, are abou 120 feet away, and about 2-4 feet lower (the property slopes). They had no wind damage. The fence, in the picture, is basically to the north-west of the plants. About 20 feet of the right side of the picture is the wall of the house.
On November 7, I noticed that my tomato plants had melted. The next day, i Saw that the plants in the pots (not wind damaged) had turned bronze. The plants , in the higher location, were still (and even today, on Nov.23) green.
I'm wodering if the fence, the house wall, and the lower location

a) protected those plants from the wind, and
b) trapped the colder air. I've read that, on still nights, cool air rolls down hills, and settles in valleys.

Anyway, since then, we've had most nights in the 40's, a few high 30's, and most days in the 50's, a few low 60's, so all th plants, in both locations, are now putting out new leaves again.


Picture 1-plants, mostly in ground- wind damage, but no cold damage.


Picture 2-potted plants- cold damage, but no wind damage.
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Old 11-23-2009, 07:54 PM   #2 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Overwintering strategies.

I still haven't chopped and mulched my basjoo. It doesn't look pretty, but it still is a living banana that has a new leaf roller! Sometimes I'm tempted to just leave it as is for the entire winter. Obviously it would freeze brown, but I keep reading about these folks who do this and have wonderful mats of basjoo. But after mine has become so nice and numerous, I probably will cut and mulch again. I'm a coward.
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Old 11-23-2009, 08:51 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Overwintering strategies.

The obvious stategy is to move to San Diego. ;-))
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Old 11-23-2009, 09:48 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Overwintering strategies.

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The obvious stategy is to move to San Diego. ;-))
LOL, I guessed that one. When I saw you had posted to this thread I thought "What the heck does Jon know about over-wintering except moving to San Diego!"
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Old 11-23-2009, 09:53 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Overwintering strategies.

John, are the damaged plants more exposed to the clear sky? I looks that way from the photos. If so, heat radiates from that area more easily.

Putting an overhead cover can help protect the bananas even without a heat supplement.

For what it's worth, bare ground can trap heat and release it more slowly than soil with grass, leaves, etc.

More power to you, in-ground bananas in zone 7!
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Old 11-25-2009, 09:06 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Overwintering strategies.

Yes, the ones that browned, from the cold, are more open to the sky, but those are going to be bare rooted and put in the cool basement. The ones in the ground may look like they have a lot of overhead protection, but most of that is in the background. The only thing that is partially over them are some Crape Myrtles, and most everything, in background or overhead, have lost their leaves by now, anyway.
The ones in the ground will get an overhead covering; as I said they will be wrapped in newspaper, then plastic, then covered with leaves, and a tarp. They have made it like this for 3 years now. I haven't decided yet; I may or may not add the Christmas lights.
And Harv - You said, "More power to you, in-ground bananas in zone 7!" It's really no big deal. After all it's only basjoos we're talking about. Lots of people, here, do it, some even in zone 5. At our local botanical garden, they had a mat of basjoos that they had protected for years. Then they decided that they wanted it in a different location. They planted in the new location, and just abandoned the old mat - no protection - no covering - no mulch - no anyting, and it still comes back reliably.
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Old 11-25-2009, 10:07 AM   #7 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Overwintering strategies.

You should try freeze purf. I used it on my basjoos and bordelens and they still look great on Nov 25th in St Louis MO. We have had about 3 nights below freezing this fall. In your area you really dont need to dig up you basjoo's and bring them in. You can overwinter them in the ground as long as they are well established, in well drained soil and you cover them with leaves or mulch. I am going to cover mine with bags of leaves this year. You can just cut them back to the ground or you can keep a few feet for truck if you want. Jeremy
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Old 11-25-2009, 10:10 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Overwintering strategies.

My favorite banana pix, which I have lost track of, was a from as fellow in St. Louis who had all of his bananas laid out on his lawn, after removing them from winter storage in his basement, and ready to plant. He had about 30 pseudostems, most 8-10' long. I knew that was dedication, and I knew I wouldn't have wanted to lug them in and out of a basement. Let's face it, they are heavy. I moved about half a dozen such monsters one rainy February day (long, long story about a pissy neighbor). That is work.

Harvey, yes, I know somegthing about winter storing of bananas, BECAUSE I read this forum, and occassionally (despite my best efforts) I learn something. ;-))

I also know that storing them in-ground in San Diego is one of the easiest methods. No digging, No lugging. Fruit stays on the tree, to ripen. Yes, moving here is a big project, but you only do it once and you are done. There is not need to do it every year, as other strategies require.
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Old 11-25-2009, 10:14 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Overwintering strategies.

Quote:
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The obvious stategy is to move to San Diego. ;-))
Good one. But I would probably prefer humid Central America.
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Old 11-25-2009, 11:30 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Overwintering strategies.

Quote:
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The obvious stategy is to move to San Diego. ;-))
True! I would prefer Grand Cayman myself. Lower taxes there. And, I wouldn't have to listen to the Terminator! LOL.
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Old 11-25-2009, 11:44 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: Overwintering strategies.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pitangadiego View Post
My favorite banana pix, which I have lost track of, was a from as fellow in St. Louis who had all of his bananas laid out on his lawn, after removing them from winter storage in his basement, and ready to plant. He had about 30 pseudostems, most 8-10' long. I knew that was dedication, and I knew I wouldn't have wanted to lug them in and out of a basement. Let's face it, they are heavy. I moved about half a dozen such monsters one rainy February day (long, long story about a pissy neighbor). That is work.
Jon, I think you're talking about Frank, aka Bigdog, and he has his photos posted at the beginning of the thread at Time to put the bananas to sleep for the Winter. Frank is a big dog, something like 6'7" but I think age will eventually catch up to him. When I saw these photos when he posted them I almost felt like I lived in the tropics!
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Old 11-25-2009, 01:08 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Default Re: Overwintering strategies.

Thanks, Jeremy. I have the freeze pruf, and will be spraying the in-ground plants, before covering. I have been covering the basjoos, and wintering them in the ground for several years now, and never lost any. I will cut the leaves off when they dry, and then wrap them. The only things I cut off are the dry leaves, and I save just about all of the p-stem, not just a couple of feet. So far, we have had one night of light frost - no freezes.
I am not digging anything up to take inside. The cold-sensitive bananas, and other tropical plants, are inside, in their pots, and growing. The in-ground basjoos will be wrapped, and covered, where they are. The only other things going inside are the basjoos which are in pots. I will shake them out of their pots, and store them dry and dormant, in a cool basement.
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Old 11-25-2009, 02:38 PM   #13 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Overwintering strategies.

Sounds great. I do the same thing but I have been cutting my p-stems back to a couple feet tall to make it easier (I have 6 bananas that will stay in the ground for the winter). I also have a cavendish banana that I dug up a week ago and brought in, it got some black spots on the leaves at 30 degrees with the freeze pruf (I understand the cavendish is really only hardy to about 37 as opposed to 32 for musa basjoo).

I also have a lot of tropical plants that I dig up and bring into my greenhouse and basement over the winter. I just built the greenhouse in September (its 6ft x 8ft and 7ft tall). I wanted a bigger one but my wife wouldnt go for that. I have it full with palms, cacti and some other tropicals) I also have 5 floressant grow lights in my basement. People think I am crazy that I bring all my tropicals in every year (I have been doing this for 3 years now). But its all worth it, right? My greenhouse is great, it have a heater hooked up to a thermistat that I keep at 58 degrees. When the sun is out it will warm up 30 degrees warmer than the outside temp. I also have a solor powered roof vent opener (it will open above 70 degrees and close when the temp drops when the sun goes down.

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Old 11-25-2009, 02:44 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Default Re: Overwintering strategies.

Harvey, thanks. That is a nice collection, but not the pix I was looking for - these were significantly bigger, and much thicker. But it gets the idea across.
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Old 11-25-2009, 04:45 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Default Re: Overwintering strategies.

What I wouldn't do for your extra 10 degrees extra in Jan/ Feb John! What are we? Maybe 20 miles apart if that!
I think my larger corms will do much better this year though and will be using your method.
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Old 11-25-2009, 05:55 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Default Re: Overwintering strategies.

Quote:
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The obvious stategy is to move to San Diego. ;-))
Thanx ! But can ya guarantee that you'll ship our nanners back in time for spring?
Of course, the alternative is "BananasSanDiego.org", LOL!! Could be fun!!

Jeremy: It's Def all worth it, Right!! Besides, it's only twice in a whole year!!

John: At the start of your first post, you said you stored the cold-sensitive bananas in a warm cellar under artificial (shop) lights and watered them once a week like regular houseplants. Sweet! Just how warm is that cellar?
I'm curious cause I'm considering keeping a lot of mine just as house plants through the winter. And if you've had that much luck, I think it's time to give it a try!
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Old 11-25-2009, 08:09 PM   #17 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Overwintering strategies.

In zone 7a, at what point would you cover you bananas. I covered mine about a month ago when night temps dropped and killing frosts hit. Was that to early? I have 4 others potted and under lights for the winter. Is there a ratio for trunk size to pot size? These are about 1 1/2' and in 4" potts
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Old 11-25-2009, 08:29 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Default Re: Overwintering strategies.

Eric, The point is, you move with the bananas, ONCE. Problem solved permanently.
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Old 11-26-2009, 10:13 AM   #19 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Overwintering strategies.

Yes, you can keep bananas as house plants. I always divide pups and bring some into my basement and put them under floressant grow lights. I have a large humidifer in my basement and keep the humidity about 60% in my basement. I have timers on my lights so they stay on for 14 hours a day. Make sure not to over water bananas that are grown as house plants. Once a week is enough. Another thing that helps is mixing my own potting mix. I start with basic potting mix and add some fine pine bark mulch, perelite, sand, kelp meal (bananas love kelp meal) and a little bit of fertilizer (low in nitrogen for the winter). I use epesonia plant tone. Make sure you mix it into the soil or your house will smell like cow ****. - Jeremy
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Old 11-26-2009, 10:26 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Default Re: Overwintering strategies.

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In zone 7a, at what point would you cover you bananas. I covered mine about a month ago when night temps dropped and killing frosts hit. Was that to early? I have 4 others potted and under lights for the winter. Is there a ratio for trunk size to pot size? These are about 1 1/2' and in 4" potts
I'll probably do mine this seekend or next. Last year ( which was colder, earlier) I covered and cut my basjoos around Halloween and they kept on growing and had to top them and re-cover. Depending on your particular 7a conditions right around Thanksgiving might be a good general time frame. ( I'm in zone 6a)
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