Tropicals forum: Banana fruit question

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Name: Kabby
Lowndesboro, AL (Zone 8a)
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Kabby
Sep 23, 2014 7:51 PM CST
I have an ice cream banana that I would like to try to get it to fruit next yr. I planted the original at least 15 yrs ago and it has been the hardiest that I have ever had. I did have it fruit one yr apparently after what it thought was a mild winter. This winter will not be mild from what I'm reading. Do I cut it at the top of the pseudostem, wrap with blankets, and then cover with plastic to keep the water out? This will all be new to me, hope it is worth a try!
Name: Cameron Allen
Plano, TX (Zone 8a)
Winter Sowing Birds Annuals Region: United States of America Native Plants and Wildflowers Foliage Fan
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TexasPlumeria87
Sep 28, 2014 7:43 AM CST
Hi Kabby, I've never gotten my bananas to develop fruit because I don't wrap the pseudostems and I just let them die down to the ground. A friend of mine who lives in Arkansas wraps his in frost blankets and old xmas lights to save the pseudostems. He also said giving bananas lots and lots of potassium to build up a strong corm helps get them through Winter better. I tried storing mine in an unheated shed wrapped in blankets and that just caused mold to develop. I think its because they were getting enough air flow and the constant warming up and cooling down contributed too. You could also pile bags of leaves around the pstem because rotting leaves produce heat. This year I'll probably let mine die to the ground again because its too much work for me. I hope that helps some?
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
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dyzzypyxxy
Sep 28, 2014 11:23 AM CST
Kabby, I would think you either have to:
a) keep the existing stem alive all winter, in which case you have the best chance of seeing fruit next year
or
b) let it die right back to the ground as Cameron does and just mulch the roots very heavily to keep them from freezing. As she says, you probably will not ever see fruit if you do this, just a nice tropical foliage plant growing up from the roots each year.

Cutting the top off the existing stem will kill it anyway. May as well cut it at ground level. Bananas don't branch or re-grow so if you cut off the terminal growth, it will kill the stem. Wrapping anything in plastic for winter will also cause fungus and/or rot, almost always, because condensation gets inside the plastic.

To keep it alive all winter, I would think you'll basically have to either pot it up and bring it indoors, use the blanket and christmas lights method (which keeps the stem alive because it is kept warm at night) or build yourself a little temporary greenhouse around that plant. PVC pipe and heavy plastic (not touching the plant) should work for that purpose. You don't have to keep it warm enough that it keeps growing, you just have to keep the terminal leaves alive and the stem from freezing. Wrapping blankets around the stem won't really help in very cold weather because the plant itself doesn't produce any heat. So the cold will eventually freeze the stem if you don't supply an outside source of heat, like the Christmas lights.

Down here bananas basically just stop growing as soon as the nights get cool, and stand up fine unless there is a real frost (temps below 32 for a few hours at night) so most people don't have to take any measures to protect the plant unless a really cold night is predicted. Then, the trick is to trap the heat that rises up from the warm ground around the plant. We see tents of old sheets and blankets, plus piles of leaves around the stems to keep the roots warm. They perk up and start putting on new leaves again as soon as the nights are staying above about 50 deg.

Long story short, if you want fruit from that stem next year, you need to keep the stem and terminal (top) leaves alive.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Kabby
Lowndesboro, AL (Zone 8a)
Region: United States of America Region: Alabama Plant and/or Seed Trader Dog Lover Birds Hummingbirder
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Kabby
Sep 29, 2014 4:12 PM CST
Cameron and Elaine thank you for replying. This is a picture of the foliage coming out of the old dead pseudostems, that I did not chop down over that particular winter. I think it was the winter of 05-06.
Thumb of 2014-09-29/Kabby/3f9031


I never ever expected it to fruit that yr, just didn't think it would happen here.

Thumb of 2014-09-29/Kabby/2637df

Hmm piling leaves around the pseudostem, I'd have to have hubby make some awesome 9 ft high tomato cages. There's no potting for these, it's a shame that frost will cut them back down, they made such a beautiful mat!



Name: Cameron Allen
Plano, TX (Zone 8a)
Winter Sowing Birds Annuals Region: United States of America Native Plants and Wildflowers Foliage Fan
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TexasPlumeria87
Sep 29, 2014 4:43 PM CST
That's amazing the foliage was still coming out of the old pseudostem. I know my friend in Arkansas managed to keep the flower alive on one of his Rajapuri bananas through Winter. Your mat looks so lush and healthy. Mine look like crap because of the drought. I just can't seem to keep them watered enough. I have Dwarf Namwah and Orinoco.
Thumb of 2014-09-29/TexasPlumeria87/9fd9df

Name: Kabby
Lowndesboro, AL (Zone 8a)
Region: United States of America Region: Alabama Plant and/or Seed Trader Dog Lover Birds Hummingbirder
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Kabby
Sep 29, 2014 6:37 PM CST
Cameron I'm a big cheater on the water, we have an overflow tank for our artesian well. My husband taught me how to siphon water through hoses and I just pull them all over the yard. Leave them overnite on the bananas, cannas, gingers.I'm really impressed with the size of your leaves, my plants had to get some height on them before they gave me large leaves like that.
Name: Cameron Allen
Plano, TX (Zone 8a)
Winter Sowing Birds Annuals Region: United States of America Native Plants and Wildflowers Foliage Fan
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TexasPlumeria87
Sep 30, 2014 5:20 AM CST
You're so lucky to have a system like that. Before my a/c went out I planted some cannas and elephant ears where it would drain and I'd never have to water them. My Dwarf Namwah,(the smaller one in the front) I've had for 2 years now. It took my Orinoco a while before it produced large leaves and the pseudostem is almost 6 ft tall. The dwarf namwah pseudostem is a little over 4 ft tall now. What type of fertilizer do you use on your bananas?
Name: Michael Hamilton
Corpus Christi, TX (Zone 9b)
Region: Texas Hibiscus Plumerias Cactus and Succulents
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Blondmyk
Sep 30, 2014 10:41 AM CST
Something that I've been seeing with frequency down here in Corpus Christi is fruiting Banana Trees that become so burdened with the weight of the Banana bunches that they break in half. Before you start to see the fruit, I would recommend finding something solid to support your banana tree with, or something to support the fruit so that the tree itself doesn't have to bear all the weight. It's so sad to see these die from something that is supposed to be natural for them! Sorry...just had to throw my .02 in there. I'm pretty envious of all you folks that have these edible banana trees! I've always wanted one, but the people down here want a FORTUNE even for me to go and dig a simple pup out of a small grove. i want one so bad!! Ugh!
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
Sep 30, 2014 10:58 AM CST
Kabby, those tall pseudostems that sprouted again after the leaves died were still alive. Must have been just cold enough to zap the leaves, but not kill the terminal growth.

If frost really kills them they turn to mush and completely collapse. Truly a sad sight.

Mostly, the thick mulch should be over the root areas, and just part way up the stem. I've seen neighbors pile the leaves maybe a foot or so deep around the stems to protect the root system. But to keep the p-stem alive, as I said, wrapping and an outside heat source, or a temporary 'greenhouse'.

Mike, when there are really heavy fruiting stems on the bananas here, people just prop a 2X4 under the stem to help with the weight.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Cameron Allen
Plano, TX (Zone 8a)
Winter Sowing Birds Annuals Region: United States of America Native Plants and Wildflowers Foliage Fan
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TexasPlumeria87
Sep 30, 2014 1:55 PM CST
Mike I bought my Dwarf Namwah from Home Depot. I think I only paid $9 for it but I found it in the houseplant section. I rarely see Lowes or Home Depot selling bananas anymore. I few years ago I got an Orinoco from Home Depot but I overwatered it when I brought it indoors. My current Orinoco I got in a trade but I've seen one person on Craigslist selling just the sprouts for $50 which is way overpriced in my opinion. Thumbs down
Name: Kabby
Lowndesboro, AL (Zone 8a)
Region: United States of America Region: Alabama Plant and/or Seed Trader Dog Lover Birds Hummingbirder
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Kabby
Sep 30, 2014 2:56 PM CST
Cameron is that a crinum between your two bananas? If so what kind? Fertilizer wise, I use MiracleGro or 13-13-13. Not a special banana kind of fertilizer. Michael, I haven't ordered from Florida Hill but they have a nice banana selection. I did just get a dwarf Cavendish in from Santa Rosa gardens, it's about a foot tall, they have a fall sale, don't know if they are still available. I'm going to pot this one up and bring it inside, see if I can get it to fruit next summer. Cameron, I saw the banana thread you started and didn't realize they were such water and fert hogs. I didn't move my cannas, gingers and crinums away from mine though, I guess because of the unlimited water. Elaine, thanks for your input, I'm conflicted about all the work. I'm a lazy gardener. *Blush*
Name: Cameron Allen
Plano, TX (Zone 8a)
Winter Sowing Birds Annuals Region: United States of America Native Plants and Wildflowers Foliage Fan
Houseplants Xeriscape Orchids Clematis Salvias Seed Starter
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TexasPlumeria87
Sep 30, 2014 3:03 PM CST
You're right about them being crinums, they are the asiaticum variety. Next year I may add some slow release fertilizer. I'll need to buy more composted cow manure next year too. I had to till the soil last month because water was just sitting on top of it and not soaking through. I have that problem throughout my garden especially during drought times. I may take one of my dwarf namwah pups indoors this year. Thumbs up
Name: Evan
Pioneer Valley south, MA, USA (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member Plant Database Moderator Forum moderator Aroids Irises Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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eclayne
Oct 1, 2014 11:11 AM CST

Plants Admin

I'm not sure how germane this is with a less cold tolerant species but M. basjoo P-stems can survive a long time in a semi-dormant state.

These pics are of this plants 1st year overwintered outside in my garden. July, 29 and 2 pics October 29.
Thumb of 2014-10-01/eclayne/0309d3 Thumb of 2014-10-01/eclayne/57e349 Thumb of 2014-10-01/eclayne/3e50ad

A few years later. April 30 (straw/plastic/straw mulch just removed showing most of the P-stems survived) and October 2. I actually remove the top layer of straw and the plastic around April 1st.
Thumb of 2014-10-01/eclayne/1365ed Thumb of 2014-10-01/eclayne/8f9fe0

I know growers who remove all but the terminal leaf, dig the plant and store overwinter in a cool place. They sometimes do get naners the following year.
Evan
Name: Cameron Allen
Plano, TX (Zone 8a)
Winter Sowing Birds Annuals Region: United States of America Native Plants and Wildflowers Foliage Fan
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TexasPlumeria87
Oct 1, 2014 12:16 PM CST
Those are some healthy basjoos Evan. I wish I could grow that variety but it's too hot here for them. I tried one years ago and even in the shade it got scorched lol.
Name: Kabby
Lowndesboro, AL (Zone 8a)
Region: United States of America Region: Alabama Plant and/or Seed Trader Dog Lover Birds Hummingbirder
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Kabby
Oct 1, 2014 8:11 PM CST
I'm getting confuseded.If the top of the growing pseudostem is cut off, it dies. So in Evan's 4th picture obviously the pseudostem was cut off above the growing point sometime after it had started to die back for the winter? When I have cut the winter carnage back in the spring sometimes I will cut it too far down and the tree is a goner. But sometimes I will start higher up the pseudostem, and I will have those inner cores start to come up. I almost always cut back in the spring, again that lazy gardener gene I have.
The Basjoo is interesting, I've looked it up, it's also called Japanese Fiber banana, Glare ugh,other folks have said the fruit is not sweet. That last photo is magnifico though, big, tall, and massive is good! My Ice Cream pups enough, it sounds like the Basjoo is prolific also.
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
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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dyzzypyxxy
Oct 1, 2014 8:26 PM CST
Kabby, maybe I just always cut too much off for the core to grow back. Evan's obviously do come back.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Evan
Pioneer Valley south, MA, USA (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member Plant Database Moderator Forum moderator Aroids Irises Celebrating Gardening: 2015
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tropicals Foliage Fan Bulbs Hummingbirder Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge)
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eclayne
Oct 2, 2014 10:43 AM CST

Plants Admin

They usually, but not always come back. During the summer I'll dig and give away plants but do cut back some P-stems because I like to see the bigger ones. Most of the one's I cut back continue to grow but some die. In the April wake up photo you can see the original (mother) corm which is dead.
Evan
Name: Evan
Pioneer Valley south, MA, USA (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member Plant Database Moderator Forum moderator Aroids Irises Celebrating Gardening: 2015
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tropicals Foliage Fan Bulbs Hummingbirder Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge)
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eclayne
Oct 2, 2014 10:47 AM CST

Plants Admin

You can get the idea of how Drew @homer1958 overwinters his naners from the 2nd pic.
homer1958 said:A look back over the Spring/Summer.

9-12-14
Thumb of 2014-09-15/homer1958/ef3680

5-3-14
Thumb of 2014-09-15/homer1958/f9a895





Evan
Name: Kabby
Lowndesboro, AL (Zone 8a)
Region: United States of America Region: Alabama Plant and/or Seed Trader Dog Lover Birds Hummingbirder
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Kabby
Oct 3, 2014 7:58 AM CST
Seriously zone 6a? I'm inspired. I'll do some experimenting except for the Christmas tree lights and I'll see how it goes. Thanks for all the replies. Hurray!
Name: Jonna
Mérida, Yucatán, México (Zone 13a)
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extranjera
Oct 3, 2014 8:04 AM CST
I was going to say something about the Pstem coming back but thought perhaps that was only in the tropics. Locals here cut the trunk about 2' above the ground after it fruits and it will grow again and fruit again. They say it fruits more rapidly the 2nd time. I've done it once or twice but can't really say if it was faster or not. Generally, I take out the old stem because I have several pups close to it and I want to let more sunlight in to them.
A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.

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