Winterizing Bananas - Knowledgebase Question

Seattle, WA
Avatar for plhisken
Question by plhisken
October 7, 2001
I live in Seattle, Wa. The temperature in the winter can
register below freezing for a week or two at a time.
I have been advised to cut my outdoor bananas back to approx. 1/2 their heigth and then wrap them in bubble wrap
or build a cage of chicken wire and fill it with leaves, etc., in effect to build a loose fitting barrier on the outside of the trunk of the plant for winter protection.
Do you agree with this method, and if so, what would you recommend? Of course one should mulch around the base of the trunk. Pls. advise, thx, Pete Hisken

Answer from NGA
October 7, 2001
Bananas are fast-growing tropical plants. Their tops can be damaged or killed back by prolonged frosts but their roots are relatively hardy. If the tops are killed down, new sprouts generally develop the following spring. While I can appreciate trying to save the tops of your plants, it might be better to cut them down to ground level and place a protective mulch over the root area. Sometimes the winters in Seattle are warm and wet, sometimes they're cold and snowy. You can wait to see what the winter brings, cutting the tops down after a killing frost if necessary, and leaving them alone if it's warm and wet. If the trees are relatively small you could construct a protective cover over them, but you'd want to make sure fresh air circulates within or the leaves will turn to mush and you'll be no further ahead than if you cut the tops off at ground level. I think I'd be inclined to allow the plants to remain as is, see what the weather brings, and react accordingly. Hope this sheds some light on your banana quandry!

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