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Old 12-17-2015, 08:46 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default My two dwarves look bad

Hi - I have two dwarf bananas that aren't looking good. They did well and put out new leaves over spring and early summer. However, near the end of the summer they started to look bad. They are in the pots I originally got them in - 4 inches. They are misted daily, and not watered until dry. They get dappled sun in the late afternoon, and are in a bright room. I'm in S. California. It's been dipping to 64 degrees in the house at night. Could that be the problem? Should I be fertilizing this time of year? And if so, with what? On the left is Little Prince, and on the right is Truly Tiny. Please help. Thanks!

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Old 12-18-2015, 05:45 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: My two dwarves look bad

First problem I could think of would be they need larger pots. especially if they are drying out between waterings. I let my larger ones dry out in winter indoors, but they are in large pots and have a little moisture around the root ball even when the surface is dry. Remove the pot and see if the roots are white and alive, or dead. I usually pot my newly arrived TC plants in a 7 inch pot as they are already needing more space. Even my dwarfs like Hi Color mini, and Super Dwarf Cavendish need large pots as an adult. Make sure the roots are alive though, or it might just cause more rot if present.
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Old 12-18-2015, 06:34 PM   #3 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: My two dwarves look bad

I second Sieg's advice, but my first thought was: Were these pots in direct sunlight?

If so, we have a clear case of unintentional 'bananaslaughter'. Banana roots in the
ground are never exposed to the temperatures, which are created in a pot in the sun.

Never mind the roots. The key is in the corm. If that is still firm like a potato, you
still have a sick, but viable plant. If is marginally softer you still have hope, but if
it is shriveled and very soft, your compost will appreciate the addition.

Whatever the case, you will have to get them out of these tiny pots, and then you
can assess the condition of the corm.






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Old 12-18-2015, 07:28 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: My two dwarves look bad

It's been my experience that if you have root rot, repotting in a larger pot will just make it worse as the pathogens are still on the root ball and spread into the new soil that holds more moisture than the old one, so seeing if the roots are rotten can help. But yep as long as the corm is solid it can be saved, basically its like a bulb. Any I have that dont have roots from rot, black, etc. (And hot sun will kill the roots sometimes as well when it heats up the pot) I pot them up in pure Sphagnum moss which is antifungal, antibacterial, and airy, and keep them damp until they regrow roots. Even with the dampness of the sphagnum, the anti pathogen qualities of it usually reverse the issue. I have saved a few plants this way, that normally would keep getting worse till they died. Winter can be tricky to get plants through, sometimes it seems as maybe the soil is full of some pathogen and just a bit too much water kills them, but those definitely need bigger pots soon,and I suspect that's the culprit, my adult dwarfs are in about a 10 gallon pot. Here is a Musa High Color mini pup that actually did have root rot, half the corm was soft and rotted also, the leaves were totally dead and withered not too long ago. Now after gently cleaning off the dead matter, cutting off the rot, potting up in pure sphagnum, and giving it a few weeks, it is ready to repot in soil.
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Old 12-18-2015, 09:39 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: My two dwarves look bad

Thank you for the help! Honestly, I didn't know they were in so much trouble! I would have posted earlier if I'd known, but these are my first bananas, and I thought they might just be looking ratty because of winter. Really, do I dare repot them in the middle of winter? I'm scared to death to do that, but I guess I have no choice. I will check the roots, and I have 6 inch pots I can put them in. It seemed that this happened pretty quickly--in maybe only a week's time! Maybe the pots DID get too hot from the bit of sun they get in the afternoon. I never thought of that!

Okay, just checked the roots. I watered them yesterday, so it's hard to tell what color the roots are! They do have roots, however, they aren't black or white, but tan! It's not a huge root ball--maybe 1.5-2 inch wide and 3 inches long. Is the corm at the base? (Sorry, like I said, they're my first bananas) If so, then it's firm on both of them. So, assuming it's not root rot, I went ahead and repotted them both into 6 inch pots with Miracle Gro coarse orchid mix and perlite, half and half. I suppose I should keep them in bright light but no sun, right? And I keep reading different things online. Some say bananas love humidity, and others say they don't really care. So, until I hear from you guys, I took their humidity trays away. Before all this, they were growing and putting out new leaves! I feel so bad. Thank you so much for helping me! Oh, and Siege, your baby is beautiful!
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Old 12-18-2015, 09:50 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: My two dwarves look bad

If they were brown, probably not enough water, planting in a pot just a bit bigger like you did is probably best, hopefully now they will perk up. The super dwarf cavendish types still get pretty big root bases, and trunks, mine are probably about 3 1/2 feet tall including leaves, and they make a little potted grove. I usually spray the leaves on mine indoors in winter because you have to watch for spider mites, they can really do a lot of damage quickly before you realize it and the leaves will yellow and shrivel. I usually just let the soil dry on the surface about an inch in winter before watering again, although I have noticed some of my bananas like Musa Yunnanensis seem to go dormant no matter how much water they get, and growth about stops.
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Old 12-19-2015, 12:37 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: My two dwarves look bad

Okay, I feel some hope now. The tips were browning in some areas, yes. It can be seen in the photo. I'll continue to mist. I'll also make sure the soil doesn't get dry more than an inch down. You've been a tremendous help. I did suspect underwatering, as I'm scared to death of root rot, having dealt with that with other plants. I'll let you guys know how things go! Thank you again!
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Old 12-19-2015, 01:16 AM   #8 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: My two dwarves look bad

There is an extensive discussion about root rot starting here: What root rot?

The gist of it is, that the only way bananas can suffer root rot is when standing in a
limited amount of water without aeration for a long time.

If there is a large body of water with enough oxygen or if a pot has drain holes on
the bottom ant the water can get away, you cannot get root rot. Period.

As far as misting is concerned I have wintered Basjoo and Ornatas at a south facing
window and never misted. And the bananas came through in very healthy condition,
despite the fact that I live in a very arid region and the already low humidity air gets
even drier when it is warmed up in the house.






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Old 12-20-2015, 02:02 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: My two dwarves look bad

You know what is weird? I grew a Little Prince in hydroculture for a couple of years, and it was so happy, and looked great. It suddenly died, but I had it looking good for TWO YEARS! I wonder how that is possible if bananas prefer to dry out between waterings?
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Old 12-20-2015, 03:47 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: My two dwarves look bad

Quote:
Originally Posted by seaecho View Post
You know what is weird? I grew a Little Prince in hydroculture for a couple of years, and it was so happy, and looked great. It suddenly died, but I had it looking good for TWO YEARS! I wonder how that is possible if bananas prefer to dry out between waterings?
Lots of plants can grow in pure sterile water, I have cuttings that stay in water for a long time, months. My grandmother had cuttings that stayed in water for years. But add some soil to that glass of water and you get smelly rot and the plant dies. I think its the addition of organic matter/soil that is the problem with too much water. Bacteria/fungus etc. feed on the dead material, multiply, put out toxins, use available oxygen. For example when rooting in water you remove the lower leaves on cuttings because the lower leaves usually die. If you remove the leaves, a lot of cuttings will go on and root and the water stays clear because there is no dead organic matter and less food for bacteria. If the leaves die and add organic material to the water, the water becomes stagnant, and rot quickly sits in on the cutting. Drying out between waterings in winter is because when its cool, the plant is less active, and less competitive with soil organisms. They can quickly get the upper hand, drying out limits their activity, and multiplication, it also controls fungus gnats that spread disease. In summer I keep my plants pretty much constantly damp, because root function is working 100 percent, and keeping disease organisms in check. In their native habitat I doubt bananas dry out much between waterings, but we are putting them in a non optimal environment indoors in winter.
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Last edited by siege2050 : 12-20-2015 at 03:53 AM.
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Old 12-20-2015, 04:40 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: My two dwarves look bad

Makes sense (about growing them in water less the soil)! So that mystery is solved. Truly Tiny looks AWFUL today. Droopy and more brown on the edges. Little Prince looks about the same. I realize the repotting stressed them. I sure don't want them to die! Like a fool, I order a Musa Poquito the other day with the excuse that if I lost these, I'd at least have one banana, and I might have more luck. I also ordered a Hoya Red Buttons. I'll post pics when they arrive. Truly Tiny is on the right in both pics. Would Superthrive help?
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Old 12-20-2015, 05:25 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Default Re: My two dwarves look bad

I would use a soil containing at least 50-60% coarse sand. I grow my nanners inside and they do great in a very sandy soil. It's hard to overwater in sand... I'll try to post pics when I find the time to do so. They're under T8's, well only the pstem for my larger one, that are running full time and they don't get too much attention.
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Old 12-20-2015, 09:34 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Default Re: My two dwarves look bad

They will probably make it, if they die back though dont throw away the pot until you are certain the corm is dead. I uh.....accidentally forgot two super dwarfs last summer and they died down to nothing from lack of water, started watering a couple months later and they resprouted and are doing fine. Make sure to repot the Poquito when its needed.
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Old 12-20-2015, 10:07 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Default Re: My two dwarves look bad

I will definitely repot the Poquito, now that I know what I did wrong the first time around. Thanks to you guys for being so supportive! And I'll make sure I don't give up unless they die back and the corm is mushy.
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