Tropicals forum: Can I Cut My Banana TreesTo Make Them Shorter?

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Name: Anne
Summerville, SC (Zone 8a)
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Xeramtheum
Apr 19, 2013 6:48 AM CST
I'm sorely lacking knowledge about banana trees. All of my Bordelon Bananas are extremely skinny, tall and not looking so good. The Super Dwarf Cavendish looks like it's being strangled by a turtle neck sweater I'm wondering if I cut them down to about 8 inches from the top of the soil, (they are all in containers) if they will grow back as shorter plants this year or could that kill them?

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Name: Carol Noel
Hawaii (near Hilo) (Zone 10b)
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AlohaHoya
Apr 19, 2013 12:41 PM CST
I am told that you can and the person who told me is a banana grower who has done it. I think your nanners could use a bigger pot, too!
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Name: Sandi
Austin, Tx (Zone 8b)
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Bubbles
Apr 19, 2013 1:14 PM CST

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I agree
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
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dyzzypyxxy
Apr 19, 2013 2:31 PM CST
Hm, I thought since bananas are monocots, (one growing tip) if you cut the one stem, you might get pups arising from the roots, but the stem won't grow back. I had a big clump of bananas at our other house, and we used to cut back the big stems after they fruited to stimulate growth of new pups. The cut stems never grew back.

I agree those ones of yours need much bigger pots, Xeranthemum. Bananas are heavy feeders and need a ton of water, too. Once the weather settles in to be warm, they'll start growing and looking better. I'd pot them up and not cut them.
Elaine

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Name: Paul
Frisco TX (Zone 8a)
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pniksch
Apr 19, 2013 4:47 PM CST
It depends on how far back you cut them- too far and you'll kill the parent plant, but that will most likely cause the root system to produce pups. If you only cut back a foot or so, the leaves will continue to grow from the stalk, but it will want to reach its optimal height- so you haven't really solved your problem. Generally, you want to select a variety that suits the area you have available(for heartiness, height, etc). They come in all sizes, from 18" to 15' (or more, depending on your climate). I recomend bananas.org, which is site for all banana growers from newbies to experts, and everything in between, with lots of great questions and knowlegable answers.
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[Last edited by pniksch - Apr 19, 2013 4:50 PM (+)]
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Name: Anne
Summerville, SC (Zone 8a)
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Xeramtheum
Apr 20, 2013 5:41 AM CST
Thanks for all the replies .. I know they need bigger pots - they've only been out of the greenhouse for a week and I will re-pot them later on .. I think I might cut back the big Bordelon in a few weeks and hopefully get some pups soon. I wish there was such a thing as a dwarf Bordelon .. I love the leaves! Guess I'll just have to be happy with babies and trade them away when they get too big!
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Name: Evan
Pioneer Valley south, MA, USA (Zone 6a)
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eclayne
Apr 30, 2013 5:34 PM CST

Plants Admin

Thumb of 2013-04-30/eclayne/3dad3fM. basjoo
After the winter under mulch and plastic. I imagine the tallest will get to about 10'.
Evan
Name: Anne
Summerville, SC (Zone 8a)
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Xeramtheum
Apr 30, 2013 5:38 PM CST
Cool! - I already cut one back, removed the pup and repotted .. New leaves are already starting to show up!
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Name: Sandi
Austin, Tx (Zone 8b)
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Bubbles
Apr 30, 2013 6:45 PM CST

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Evan, that's amazing! We've had a mild winter, but I've lost the all the bananas.
Name: Evan
Pioneer Valley south, MA, USA (Zone 6a)
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eclayne
Apr 30, 2013 8:10 PM CST

Plants Admin

Thanks. What I do is probably overkill for M. basjoo, even here. I learned this from a Logee's video for M. sikkemensis. I've read that M. basjoo takes 18-24 months to bloom so I grow it for the foliage/novelty. Are there banana that will bloom and maybe fruit in z8 in a single season?
Evan
Name: Anne
Summerville, SC (Zone 8a)
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Xeramtheum
Apr 30, 2013 9:39 PM CST
I've never had one bloom .. I keep hoping my Super Dwarf Cavendish might do it but I'm not holding my breath. Like you I'm growing mostly for the foliage and tropical look. I also have a Golden Lotus, Musella lasiocarpa - It's been nothing but trouble just keeping it alive this past Winter - it looks pathetic at the moment but actually pushed out a pup! .. Still hoping that I'll wake up one morning to find an AE-AE pup magically dropped out of the sky and into my Tropical Corner.
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Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
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dyzzypyxxy
May 1, 2013 8:54 AM CST
Hilarious! Be careful what you wish for X!.. A guy on the other forum has an AeAe that he carefully nurtured up in NC and it grew to over 12ft. before it bloomed, pupped and he cut back the huge main trunk. He had to recruit the local football team to come over and help him move it into the house (he had a 2-story living room) for the first winter, then he said it smelled terrible inside the house and he had to move it again, out to the garage.

Going back to your original question, just a thought here but keeping several pups crowded in one pot might be the best way for you to have nice banana foliage on smaller plants. The 'fruit guru' at the Extension office used to tell us that if we wanted to get fruit from our bananas we had to thin out the pups in the clump and only let maybe two new pups grow each year, or we'd have small plants that never made fruit. Since you don't care about getting blooms or fruit, I'd let all the pups develop in a huge pot, and nurture them as a nice foliage plant.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Anne
Summerville, SC (Zone 8a)
Be a voice - not an echo!
Plant and/or Seed Trader Enjoys or suffers cold winters Hybridizer Birds Seed Starter Cat Lover
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Xeramtheum
May 1, 2013 9:56 AM CST
I didn't have a clue as to what my very first banana tree was - was told it was hardy so I put it in the ground early Spring .. it was an 8 inch pup and grew to over 8 feet in about 2 and a half months then started pupping like crazy .. needless to say, I found a good home for it .. it would have eaten the ginger bed it was in - I loved it but it wasn't practical and waaaay to much maintenance digging up pups for this cranky old geezer to keep up with. I found a good home for it and it's babies.

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