How cold can a banana tree tolerate
How to Overwinter Banana Plants
Before we talk about how to overwinter banana plants, the first thing we need to get straight is that the banana tree (Musa spp.) is not actually a tree. It’s an herb! A rather sizeable herb.
Its “trunk” is actually a cylinder of tightly layered leaves called a pseudostem.
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The banana is an attractive herbaceous flowering plant that grows to a mature height of 12 to 18 feet tall. Its large leaves, purple flowers, and brightly colored fruit make a dramatic statement in the garden.
How to Overwinter Your Banana Tree
- It’s a Tropical Plant
- Keeping Your Banana Plant Alive
- Container Growing
- Cover It
- Dig It Up
It’s a Tropical Plant
There are about 70 species of the genus Musa, and they are indigenous to tropical areas of India, Southeast Asia, and northern Australia.
They are now grown in more than 135 countries, mostly for their fruit, which is enjoyed around the world.
Given their native climate, it is unsurprising that banana plants are cold intolerant. They need mild temperatures in order to grow; their leaves will stop growing at around 55°F.
They will suffer leaf damage at 32°F, and their underground rhizomes will die at sustained temperatures of 22°F or lower.
Having said that, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention that there are indeed a few cold-tolerant varieties available.
For example, the ‘Japanese Fiber’ variety (M. basjoo) can withstand sub-zero temperatures. It’s hardy to Zone 5 or 6, and can be overwintered in colder areas by cutting it back and providing a protective mulch around the stem.
Nevertheless, most banana plants like it hot, and if you don’t live in USDA Hardiness Zone 9 or higher, you may wonder how you can add one of these tropical beauties to your landscape and keep it alive over winter.
Let’s learn more!
Keeping Your Banana Plant Alive
Here, we’ll offer three ways you can protect and preserve your banana plant over the winter months:
Perhaps the most obvious way to successfully overwinter a banana tree is to grow it in a container and bring it indoors when temperatures drop.
It is best to select a dwarf variety for container growing. A 15-foot “tree” in a pot would be a bit unwieldy!
Simply enjoy your potted plant on the patio or deck all summer, and then bring it indoors when outdoor temperatures begin to drop.
You have a couple options in terms of where you place it indoors.
If you’d like to adorn an empty corner of your living room, make sure it’s a sunny spot and be sure to keep the soil moist, but not soggy.
Provide humidity by misting the leaves via a squirt bottle filled with water.
Expect to see slow growth during this period.
If an attached garage or crawl space makes more sense for overwintering your container grown banana, begin preparing the plant by gradually reducing irrigation as the weather cools.
Before the first frost, cut the stem back to about six inches tall, and place it in a cool, dark place – approximately 40-50°F.
Water just enough so that the soil doesn’t separate from the sides of the container.
It will go dormant through the cold months, and you can take it outdoors again and start watering it properly once temperatures start to climb and all risk of frost has passed.
If your plant is growing in the ground, one option for safely overwintering it is to protect it with thick layers of mulch.
The goal here is to protect the large rhizome at the base of the pseudostem, which is known as the “corm.” The corm has several growing points that will sprout new rhizomes – or “pups” – which can be transplanted.
Cut the plant back to about 4-6 inches above the ground, and then pile on at least a foot of leaves, straw, or other mulching material.
You might also cover the pile with plastic sheeting, row cover material, or a cloche for more protection, and to keep the mulch in place.
If you can’t bear to cut your plant down, you can leave it intact and fashion a wire cage around the pseudostem, leaving one to two feet of horizontal clearance from the stem to the cage.
Make the cage as high as the amount of pseudostem you want to protect.
After the first light frost, fill the cage with shredded leaves or straw. Make sure you pack it in well, so it completely surrounds the stem.
You may lose any portion of the plant that sticks out above the cage, but the covered portions and the rhizome underground should be protected.
You can also wrap hessian or row cover material around the outside of the wire cage to add insulation and keep the material in place.
Remove the cage and mulching material when warm weather returns and the plant shows signs of regrowth.
Trim off any dead material and start watering.
You can spread the shredded leaves or straw around the base of the plant to provide some extra organic material to the soil.
Dig It Up
Another way to protect your banana plant during wintertime is to dig it up and move it to a cellar, crawlspace, or similar area where the temperature is consistently 45-50°F. Ideally, this should be done before the first frost.
Before you start moving earth, though, you’ll want to cut the plant back to about six inches tall. When that’s done, carefully dig out the rhizomes and roots. Make sure you dig out at least 6-8 inches on either side of the base of the stem.
Place the root ball in a container of slightly moist sand. The tree will go dormant so it won’t need light, and you shouldn’t water it at all during this time.
Banana trees with pseudostems that are larger than five inches in diameter can be dug up and stored without lopping off the top first. Shake the soil from the roots and lay the plant on its side on top of a tarp or newspaper in your chosen location.
Replant when all danger of frost has passed. You’ll want to give your tree plenty of water to revive it.
A Statement Plant that Deserves a Second Life
With their large leaves and impressive height, banana plants can make a spectacular statement in the landscape. But for most of us in the United States, the beauty fades when the winter’s chill approaches.
Rather than simply abandoning your bananas to the whims of weather, you have several choices for protecting them for a return engagement come springtime.
Have you successfully overwintered one of these tropical beauties? How do you revive them after winter? Share your tips in the comments section below.
Do you have other plants you need to protect from the cold? Check out these guides:
- Guide to Clematis Winter Care: Protect Your Vines From Freezing and Frost
- Lemongrass Winter Care: How to Prepare for the Cold
- How to Protect Rosemary Plants in the Winter
- How to Prepare Fruit Trees for Winter
© Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on December 29, 2019. [lastupdated]. Uncredited photos: Shutterstock.
A Guide to Cold Hardy Banana Trees
A cold hardy banana tree, also known as a Musa Basjoo banana tree, can grow in freezing temperatures all across the United States and gives off a tropical vibe, despite not producing any fruit. Keep reading to learn how to grow a cold hardy banana tree and where to buy one.
What Does a Cold Hardy Banana Tree Look Like?
The cold hardy banana tree produces green leaves and small, light yellow flowers. Inedible bananas grow out of these flowers, starting off bright green and turning yellow when the banana ripens. Unfortunately, the bananas aren’t edible, as the inside is bitter and dry.
Growing Conditions for a Cold Hardy Banana Tree
Here are a few factors to keep in mind when caring for your tropical plant.
Sun and Shade
Cold hardy banana plants grow best in direct sunlight, so consider planting your tree in the center of your yard away from other plants with foliage that creates shade, in a pot on an uncovered patio, or inside next to a large window.
These trees like highly fertile and well-drained soil and prefer a moderately acidic soil with a pH between 5.5 and 6.5.
Cold hardy banana trees should be fertilized once every two to four weeks in the summer. You can use an organic fertilizer or a water soluble fertilizer with an 8-10-10 ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
Banana trees require a deep watering that reaches the root system three to four times a week, especially during the summer months when it’s actively growing. If you don’t water regularly, the plant will dry out, stunting its growth.
Ideal Hardiness Zones
The cold hardy banana tree can be grown in hardiness zones 4–11 all across the US. However, if you live in colder parts of Alaska, the North, or the Midwest, you may have less success with keeping your tree alive for more than a few years.
How to Plant a Cold Hardy Banana Tree
When you purchase a cold hardy banana tree, you will be given a rhizome—a mass of roots with a starter plant, also known as a sucker, growing out of it. Cold hardy banana trees can be planted in your yard, in a pot on your patio, or in a large pot inside your home next to a window.
- Plant the sucker in a hole that’s three feet wide and two feet deep.
- Fill the hole with soil that’s half original dirt and half amended soil from well-rotted compost or aged manure.
- Deeply water the sucker and place a layer of mulch around the rhizome in a two- to three-inch layer.
Read more: How to Properly Mulch Around a Tree
As the tree grows, a pseudostem will grow out of the rhizome. The true stem will grow out of the center of the pseudostem and bloom yellow flowers that turn into bananas when fertilized. This entire process should take about nine months. Like other banana trees, a cold hardy banana tree will last about six years.
Tolerance and Susceptibility
Because bananas aren’t native to the United States, some diseases that afflict tropical bananas in Southeast Asia, Africa, and Central and South America won’t cause damage to the ones here. The one major disease American bananas are susceptible to is root rot, which is when cold, wet soil causes the rhizome to rot away.
On top of disease susceptibility, the cold hardy banana tree is also susceptible to damage from strong winds. However, the plant does have a tolerance to cold temperatures, which allows them to grow in colder states.
Since cold hardy bananas aren’t edible, you don’t have to worry about animals or insects attacking the fruit. However, common insects like aphids and moths may attack the leaves. You can prevent aphids and moths by spraying a regular or non-toxic insecticide.
Because the bananas from the cold hardy banana tree aren’t edible, this tree may be best for gardeners in colder states who want to create a tropical aesthetic without having to worry about insects or pests attacking the tree’s fruits. If you live in a warm to moderate climate and want a tropical feel and edible fruit, we recommend purchasing the ice cream banana tree instead.
Frequently Asked Questions About Cold Hardy Banana Trees
How much cold can a banana tree tolerate?
There are several species of bananas beside the cold hardy banana that can tolerate cold weather, like the Chinese yellow banana and Sikkim banana. However, the cold hardy banana is the hardiest banana and can withstand temperatures as low as -20 degrees Fahrenheit.
Should you cut dead leaves off banana trees?
Yes. Cutting off dead leaves can help stimulate growth. You can clear your tree of dead leaves by finding ones that are brown in color and cutting them off where the stem means the stalk.
What happens to the cold hardy banana tree during the winter?
A cold hardy banana tree that is planted outside will go dormant during the winter when temperatures drop below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. When that happens, cut the stem to 24 inches tall and loosely cover it with thick plastic or burlap. Mulch the root area to help regulate the temperature and provide a steady stream of nutrients. Unwrap the tree once temperatures are above 40 degrees.
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Conditions for growing bananas in the country. 7 Important Points Selo.Guru - Internet portal about agriculture
Many people think that bananas can grow only in hot countries. But this is not entirely true, because there are varieties of bananas that grow in our latitudes, some can even be grown at home on the windowsill.
- Where and under what conditions do bananas grow
- The best varieties of bananas to grow in Russia
- How to grow bananas in your country house
When to plant a banana in open ground How to plant a banana How and when to cut the trunks, cover for the winter How to water and fertilize a banana Comfortable temperature for banana growth 904 Air humidity for banana begins to bloom
Where do bananas grow and under what conditions
Almost all types of dwarf bananas that can grow in Russia are heat-loving varieties. There are some that grow only in Ecuador, so the regions of Europe are not suitable. In this case, you should choose varieties that perfectly tolerate a long period of winter dormancy and are not afraid of negative temperatures.
The best varieties of bananas to grow in Russia
Bananas can be grown not only in the backyard, it will grow in a flower pot in the apartment, if proper care is provided. Dwarf varieties reach a maximum of 1.5 meters in height, so they are suitable for home use. Consider varieties that are suitable for the climate of Russia :
- Musa velutina, or otherwise velvet banana.
- Musa violacea purple.
- Musa coccinea bright red.
- Musa ornata lavender.
- Musa Cavendish Dwarf.
- Musa Super Cavendish Dwarf.
The last two varieties have tasty sweet fruits.
Of course, it is not worth waiting for bananas to appear on the bush right away, the plant will begin to bear fruit no earlier than the age of three.
A beautiful variety of green banana with mini-fruits from hot countries: benefits and harms
How to grow a red banana at home?
How to grow bananas in your country house
Before you start growing, you need to create all conditions for the plant. It is necessary to plant bananas in open ground from a seedling, while taking care that the soil is as nutritious as possible . Let's get acquainted with the detailed instructions on how to do everything right.
When to plant a banana in the open ground
The most favorable period for planting a banana seedling in the open ground is the end of March, or even in mid-April. The fact is that during this period the risk of severe frosts is greatly reduced, which means that the plant will feel comfortable.
The ground must be open and free, preferably in direct sunlight. Other horticultural crops should be at a distance of 4 meters. To protect the plant from strong gusts of wind, it is advisable to plant it near the house. Then the walls become a barrier. After planting, the banana must be provided with abundant watering.
How to plant a banana
Consider step by step instructions on how to plant a banana in the ground in the country:
- First of all, you need to grow or buy a seedling.
- Prepare a planting pit in a convenient place, which should be at least 50*50 cm.
- Make a hole in the prepared soil and spill it with warm water.
- A seedling is planted with its root collar deepened.
Banana grows quite fast, especially the leaves, so it needs plenty of watering. Topsoil must not be allowed to dry out . In hot weather, you can shower the plant and spray it.
How and when to cut the trunks, cover for the winter
The plant tolerates the winter normally if it is properly looked after. The most important thing is to keep the stem. What should be done to make a banana survive the winter:
- As soon as the first cold weather begins, the leaves should be cut at a height of 60 cm.
- The plant should be covered with spruce branches at the roots and covered with a box.
- The resulting structure must be covered with sawdust and covered with a film or non-woven material.
If the upper part freezes, then it is not terrible for the plant, the root system must not be allowed to freeze . With the onset of spring heat, the banana should be opened gradually, because the active sun can burn the plant. Sometimes small children appear around the main trunk. With their help, you can propagate a banana tree.
How to water and fertilize a banana
Banana is considered an unpretentious plant and any soil is suitable for its cultivation, although experts focus on the presence of peat and sand.
- The plant needs to be watered frequently, the top layer of the soil can dry out only 2 centimeters.
- Watering is carried out until the water stops soaking into the ground and a small puddle forms.
- While the plant is small, loosen the soil. You can do this once a month.
- Banana trees can be fed every two weeks. For this, organic substances are used.
If it is possible to provide high humidity in the summer cottage and constantly spray the plant, then this will only be a plus.
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Comfortable temperature for the growth of bananas
Banana tree, but can not tolerate a drop in temperature for a long time. Best tolerates wintering at a temperature of +10°С . The most favorable for growth is + 30 ° С.
Humidity for bananas
Ideal humidity for plant growth 70-80% . At home, you can achieve a similar condition if you use a humidifier or constant spraying.
When the banana starts to bloom
If you properly care for and water the banana, then a year after planting the plant will begin to bloom. A long peduncle will appear from the kidney, on which there will be flowers.
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10 types of banana trees - Some species of the genus Musa received. Banana trees or bananas are perennial herbaceous plants from the genusMusa . At first glance, they are easy to confuse with palm trees, but in fact they have nothing to do with it, since banana trees do not have a trunk. What appears to be a stem is actually a pseudo-stem consisting of closely packed leaf sheaths. They form an aerial stem only during flowering. They have a true stem underground, and this is what is known as a rhizome, which only rises to the outside in very old specimens.
Even among those who know these plants, there is an opinion that these are strictly tropical plants, but this is not so. Fruits are extracted from them, sold in greengrocers, they are tropical, but there are many other species that are very resistant to cold. The most frost-resistant banana tree, Musa Basju , withstands temperatures close to -20ºC. Below you will see the most important and striking views that we have selected. for each of two types of bananas: tropical and hardy.
- 1 tropical banana trees
- 1.1 Musa Paradisiaca
- 1.2 Musa Acuminata
- 1.2.1 Musa Acuminata 'Red Dacca', Musa Acuminata 'Red Dacca'
- 1.2.2 Musa Acuminata '
- 1.3 Musa Balbisiana
- 1.4 Muse Ingens
- 2 Cold -resistant banana trees
- 2.1 Musa Balbisiana 'Atia Black'
- 2.2 Musa Basja
- 2.3 Musa Sicensis
Tropical Banana Trees
These banana trees generally do not tolerate cold well and their fruits usually take more than half a year to ripen, so they cannot be obtained in frosty climates. Prefer warm temperatures and high humidity. They need plenty of water and fertile soil with good drainage. They prefer full sun but tolerate some shade (the less humidity, the more shade they need). All banana trees grown in large quantities for fruit production fall into this category.
This is not a species in itself, but a collection of hybrids and varieties. de Musa acuminata y Musa Balbisiana . It is commonly referred to as all large banana trees bearing edible fruits, commercial banana trees. Next we will see some of the plants included in this title.
One parent Musa paradisiaca . It is called Malaysian banana or red banana because their bananas are reddish in color. It has a large distribution area, as it inhabits Southeast Asia, like most species of this genus. as well as part of the islands of Oceania near Asia. Typically The fruits of wild specimens are inedible and full of black seeds. Its size varies greatly, from over 7 m to less than a couple of meters. Wild plants are usually completely green, with a layer of wax that gives them a slightly bluish tint.
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Musa acuminata 'red dakka'
Variety (really many varieties) Musa acuminata ornamental with full red fruit and pseudostem. Their bananas are edible, taste good, and do not produce seeds. , but this is not common on plantations. In Central America, these bananas are fairly common, but in Spain, if you want to try them, you have to buy the plant and wait for it to bear fruit. It is usually medium in size (over 5 m tall) with very fast growth so it can be grown in frosty climates as an annual plant, taking advantage of its tropical appearance in summer.
Musa acuminata 'Cavendish'
Another set of varieties. Banana trees of the Cavendish type are the most important commercially, producing over 90% of banana production today. . They are medium sized plants producing yellow seedless fruits. The fruits are less tasty than other varieties, but due to the robustness of the plant and the amount of bananas produced, they are the most widely used. Canarian banana trees belong to this type. There is a dwarf variety, Musa acuminata "dwarf cavendish", widely used in horticulture. They usually have a reddish pseudostem with black spots. In young and vigorous specimens, the leaves usually have reddish and metallic spots.
Other parent Musa paradisiaca . This is a large plant (up to 7 m tall and more than 30 cm at the base of the pseudostem) with long leaves with yellowish green fruits (with seeds in wild plants, without them in commercial varieties). . It tolerates heavier soils than other banana trees, as well as some drought. It is called the male plantain, since it is from this fruit that this fruit is extracted (although one that is obtained from hybrids with M. acuminata ). Its fruit is edible, though somewhat tasteless, and improves greatly when roasted. It can also be used to extract fibers, although there are better options. It lives in Southeast Asia, from India to China, at an altitude of up to 2000 m, which explains its resistance to cold. Depending on the origin, can withstand temperatures down to -5ºC . It needs very high temperatures to grow, so while it can tolerate cold, it needs hot summers. We put her in this group because her bananas only ripen in places where there is no frost.
Image - Reddit.
Giant banana tree. This is the largest plant in the Musaceae family, reaching over 20 meters in height. , with a circumference at the base that can exceed 2m, and leaves about 5m long (counting only the blade and petiole), giving it the position of the largest akaule plant (remember that the pseudostem is not a true stem, it is a sheath leaf). Bananas are yellowish and of good size, but inedible. . The peculiarity of this banana tree is that it does not tolerate heat well. He wants the temperature to always be around 20ºC and the ambient humidity close to 100%. It lives in the forests of New Guinea at a certain height.
Cold-resistant banana trees
These plants are usually They also come from the intertropical zone, but grow at high altitudes, so they tolerate low temperatures well. Keep in mind that any frost will dry out the leaves, and if a hard frost is expected, the false stem must be protected or it will freeze to the ground. This is necessary if you want to get a large plant or see how it blooms. Without this protection, all these species will freeze to the ground at temperatures below -5ºC and have to sprout from the rhizome again, so you will rarely be able to get plants higher than 1 meter. Very few produce edible bananas.
To protect them, simply surround the pseudo-stem with a good layer of straw and surround it with a thermal geotextile mesh, putting a plastic roof on it. If too cold is not expected, it is enough to surround them with several layers of thermal geotextile mesh.
Musa Balbisiana 'atia black'
Image - sower
Pure ornamental variety Musa Balbisiana with black pseudostem . It is somewhat more resistant to cold than the species (generally lasts up to -5ºC no problem). Bananas are probably edible , but since they are usually grown in areas with cool winters, they are usually not seen. In any case, this is an ornamental plant, so even if the fruit is edible, it will not be of high quality. Like this species, it requires a lot of heat to grow, so it is not recommended for use in cool climates.
The most cold hardy banana tree which theoretically can last up to about -20ºC . Its natural range is southern China, mainly Sichuan, although it is more common in Japan where it is grown for its fiber extraction (hence its common name, Japanese Fibrous Banana Tree). Its resistance to cold, combined with the fact that it does not need much heat to grow, makes it the most cultivated in frosty climates. . It is a medium to small plant that usually does not exceed 3 m in height and is light green in color. Its pseudostem is usually surrounded by the remains of dry leaves. Greenish fruits are inedible. . Its leaves are rather thin, with short petioles.
Similar to Musa Basju but with more tropical air. It has many varieties with different cold tolerance, from -5ºC to about -15ºC. Its most interesting cultivars are cultivars with entirely or partially red leaves, such as "red tiger". These are medium-sized plants, usually not exceeding 5 m in height, with leaves are rather broad compared to the rest of this group, giving them a tropical look. They are dark green with more or less pronounced reddish hues. Its pseudostem is usually covered with dry leaves. Not recommended for cold climates as they need a lot of heat to grow. Bananas always remain greenish and inedible. . Native to northwestern India and the low Himalayas (up to about 2000 meters above sea level).
A very small banana tree that rarely exceeds XNUMX meters in height. . Withstands temperatures close to -10ºC . Appearance is similar to Kanna Indica but with more scattered leaves and a pinkish pseudostem. The fruits are pink and edible, but very small. (about the size of a big toe) , full of seeds and somewhat bland. This is a very interesting species, as the fruits ripen very quickly, so bananas can be harvested even in cool summer climates, and they are also very showy. Another unique feature of this banana tree is that it blooms even after being frozen to the ground.
Newly discovered banana tree that has been cultivated for a very short time. Medium to large size, it can reach about 10 m in height , with a very thin pseudostem. It seems to be almost as difficult as Musa Basju , but this is not yet known for sure. He is known to recover from cold faster than Musa sikkimensis . Inhabits the jungle from the eastern Himalayas to the western Yunnan (China). They have a dark pseudostem, reddish to purple, almost black. They are completely covered in white wax, which, added to the dark pseudostem, gives them a truly striking appearance. The leaves are very long, attached to the false stem with a very thin petiole. Their bananas are inedible and always green, but the waxy coating makes them bluish.
Musa 'Helena's Hybrid'
Image - plant
It is not particularly resistant to cold (up to approx. -5ºC , pseudostem down to approx. delicious fruits, with seeds , but not very annoying. This is a hybrid of Musa sikkimensis y Musa "Chini Champa".