The Q&A Archives: Musella lasiocarpa

Question: I live in zone 5 and seldom get below 0 degrees if that. I want to over winter this plant outdoors, would it survive outside for the winter? This is a Monrovia grown plant that I purchased in lake county.

Answer: I'm afraid that a Chinese Banana will not live outdoors in your gardening region. However, you can grow it indoors during the winter months and summer it outdoors.

Originally native to Southeast Asia, bananas are now found in most tropical and subtropical zones. It was the Roman Emperor Musa who first started exporting bananas after he tasted its delectable fruit, which is where the Latin name of the plant comes from. Bananas multiply by underground rhizomes, from which new stocks grow, each producing one flower cluster and fruit. The stalk can take 9-18 months to grow and another 4-8 months for the fruit to mature. Fertilizers rich in potassium speed up the fruiting. Suckers, continually being sent up from the base of the mother plant can be removed to start a new banana tree.

After a stalk has fruited, allow one replacement sucker to grow because the main stalk will die after fruit has matured. Bananas are self-fruitful and do not need a pollinator. The most common banana grown for indoor use are ornamentals and the fruit they bear are pretty to look at but not palatable. Bananas prefer a warm moist area of growth, soil content must be porous, and well drained, (acidic growing mix with a pH between 5.5- 6.5)

Bananas need ample amounts of water because of their large leaves, a gentle misting every few days will help though it is important that you do not over water your plant. Fertilize banana about once a month with a water-soluble fertilizer; try kelp or even fish food. Feeding is very important when the plant is maturing. Bananas thrive in bright indirect sun, a good southern exposure is beneficial, and although they will still grow in less sufficient light but might not flower and fruit. Several Hydroponic dealers and hardware stores carry various indoor light sources for a remedy to this situation. Avoid freezing temperatures or drafty locations. (Temp not below 60F). Ideal for outdoor patios during the summer time, in a shaded noontime area; make sure you check for insects before returning indoors.

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