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Tropical Fruits: Please Recommend Fruiting Banana for z8 So. Central AL!

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SilkKnoll
Tuskegee, AL
(Zone 8a)

June 16, 2010
12:14 PM

Post #7894118

I have finally found a seller with Bordelon and want to add a fruiting banana to my pending order, but the seller equates Williams, Gran Nain and Ice Cream Bananas for their success at surviving here -- z8 AL = a few nights at 10-15F each year; frost free from Easter to mid November; summers often over 90F.

I'm especially interested in which might fruit better or more quickly when planted outside and protected in winter...

Or, am I being too optimistic?

What is your experience with Williams, Gran Nain or Ice Cream and their fruiting potential?


Incidentally, I'm also getting Musella lasiocarpa (Chinese Yellow Lotus Flowering) and an ornamental yellow-blooming banana she calls Siam Yellow. I'm hopeful about these doing well with protection here.

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bettydee
La Grange, TX
(Zone 8b)

June 16, 2010
3:27 PM

Post #7894614

I think you are being a bit optimistic. Banana facts from the CRFG:
http://www.crfg.org/pubs/ff/banana.html

You might try growing one of the dwarf bananas in a large pot. One that you can take indoors and keep above 53F through winter.
carolyn_haack
Saint Petersburg, FL

June 16, 2010
6:20 PM

Post #7895137

8B is probably outside the range for a fruiting banana, but if you wanted to try it, the Rajapuri doesn't get very large, is considered one of the more cold tolerant, tastes great, and fruits in about half the time of a standard banana.
SilkKnoll
Tuskegee, AL
(Zone 8a)

June 16, 2010
6:55 PM

Post #7895239

Neither I nor the friend with whom I'm sharing this order have had any success at all overwintering bananas indoors. Together, we've decided to give up on that prospect.

@bettydee: Thank you for the link. I'll study it!

@carolyn: I had been very interested in Rajapuri in the past and will have another good look at it. Thanks!
homer1958
Huntersville, NC
(Zone 7b)

March 1, 2011
1:35 PM

Post #8400604

I'm with Carolyn...!
SilkKnoll
Tuskegee, AL
(Zone 8a)

March 2, 2011
1:21 AM

Post #8401740

I've had Raja Puri since last July or August. It grew to a very attractive, dense, 2" plant before the cold weather came.

I packed the small trunk with pine needles and a blanket under a 5-gallon bucket for most of the winter. The trunk still froze, but the base seems solid. We'll see what it does this year.

I also got a Bordelon (not for fruit, of course). It is much smaller than the Raja Puri, but also seems to have come through the winter. Neither is showing new growth yet -- other than pushing up the dead brown centers, which indicates there is growth under there somewhere.
homer1958
Huntersville, NC
(Zone 7b)

March 3, 2011
5:27 PM

Post #8405236

SilkKnoll,

Do you have access to a garage that does not freeze during the winter?

If you do, you can dig your bananas, cut of all the leaves save the top one, leave the dirt on the roots about the same width as the plant at the base on each side and leave them in your garage in a bucket or pot ...Whatever is big enough. There is no need to water them after that... They will stay dormant until the end of Mar. first of April. You can start watering them, slowly of course, until placed outside. If they are say 3-4'' in dia. then you will have to water about evey six weeks as the corm will more than likely be to small to sustain itself (this small though; I would place in 40%perlite and 60% potting soil in your smallest pot possible) till Spring... You are in my zone, maybe a little warmer. I have been doing this for yrs. Rajapuri is your ticket to Nirvana!!! Speed and height rule!

Later,

Drew
SilkKnoll
Tuskegee, AL
(Zone 8a)

March 6, 2011
2:37 PM

Post #8410619

Thanks so much for the detailed information, Drew!

I've understood this principle for some time, and tried it once with an Ensete Maurelli, but I left it almost bare-root and uncovered (I think -- it was five or six years ago). I think it failed from overdrying just short of springtime.

I knew a former DGer in TN who drug dozens of banana trees into her garage annually, where she kept them piled in large boxes, and her success with tropicals was legendary.

While I don't have a garage, I have an unheated utility room that might work for next year.

Last winter I lost ... around 10 young banana plants (from 4" to 2-gallon pots, and from 6" to 2' tall, Chinese lotus, mini Cavendish and several Siam Rubies) that I tried to keep going in pots indoors. They all rotted sooner or later. I just couldn't get the soil to dry out, and slight moisture, insufficient light and several of months at 70 degrees did them in. There also might have been an unidentified fungus or virus going around since I lost many brugmansias and elephant ears (Alocasia, Colocasia & Xanthosomas) the same way in the same year. I suspect it came in with some late season brugs. Though they came from a respected grower, he told me that he'd occasionally have a plant fail and rot without explanation, and he only recommended bagging and tossing the dead or dying plant, pot, soil and all...

That experience kept me from attempting to overwinter indoors, and, instead, seek out varieties that would survive outside.

I know the trick to getting fruit is to start our season with solid pseudostems 2-4' high. I had hopes for the Bordelon (you wouldn't believe how many years it took me to get one!) and the Raja Puri.

The Bordelon was over 2' when it arrived, but nearly rootless. So, of course it started over by popping the new growth out the side of the base and continued as the baby that the small root system dictated. It barely grew, through the season. Perhaps I'll have to work more on the soil. The base that survived under the mulch is no wider than my finger.

The Raja Puri picked up where it was -- 12-18" -- and made a beautiful mane of leaves, each slightly larger than the last, but barely increased in height.

I have a third that is a plain green pass-around banana down here. It survives in the ground for most people. I know one person who has it in a protected area by a privacy fence with southern exposure, and he gets blooms and tiny bananas before frost.

Mine started at 3' when it was passed to me, and the crown was around 5' with a 4"+ diameter trunk by the end of the summer. I cut it back to 3.5', cut the bottom out of a large construction bag and put that around it filled with pine needles. I cut some ventilation holes in the bag. I've uncovered it, and, though the tip froze to goo, I think most of the trunk is pretty solid.

I'll keep you all posted.
homer1958
Huntersville, NC
(Zone 7b)

March 6, 2011
5:01 PM

Post #8410886

My AeAe I have had growing inside since the first week of December.

You can do it also!

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rjogden
Gainesville, FL
(Zone 8b)

August 19, 2011
2:26 PM

Post #8765175

I think there may be some confusion about "surviving" vs. "fruiting". There are bananas growing in lots of yards around here and some at the local botanical garden. In cold winters they are knocked back to the ground, and if so they generally regrow the following summer. But AFAIK none of them ever ripen fruit because the fruit take a long time to develop.
homer1958
Huntersville, NC
(Zone 7b)

August 19, 2011
7:18 PM

Post #8765584

Orinoco fruit only takes about 10-12 weeks to ripen!

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rjogden
Gainesville, FL
(Zone 8b)

August 20, 2011
5:15 PM

Post #8767067

homer1958 wrote:Orinoco fruit only takes about 10-12 weeks to ripen!


But when does it bloom?
homer1958
Huntersville, NC
(Zone 7b)

August 20, 2011
7:43 PM

Post #8767617

Depends on the variety you will have to bring it in after the first winter and garage it or crawl space it. You can basement to. WHAT you don't want to do is, go through a year or two's growth and then let it freeze to the ground ending up killing the flower before it has a chance to bloom! Even if you save the corm, you could kill the flower and then, ... No Bananas!

Orinocos in 7-b normally take the 3rd year to produce and ripen! This is my first year for Rajpuri. From what I have read it should bloom and have time to ripen next year if I bring it into the garage and leave the last few leaves on it for a head start next year!

Drew
Vinesnmore
Bronson, FL

May 7, 2012
6:34 PM

Post #9114811

I am in North FL and going into my second year with over 20 different fruiting bananas. I kept the pseudostems of all of them alive this winter by not trimming leaves and using those as protection. They now are well over 10ft tall and I'm hoping for fruit this summer. I have the following

Saba
Praying Hands
Orinoco
Raja Puri
Dwarf Brazilian
FHIA 21
Pisang Raja
Iban Musak
Dwarf Red (these are the only ones I brought indoors this winter)
Mysore
Dwarf Cavendish
Zebrina
Siam Ruby
Rose
Monkey Fingers

I can't think of anymore LOL

I also just ordered an Ae Ae that will be BABIED all the time and a TANEE variegated as well!
smurf428
cullman, AL
(Zone 7b)

June 1, 2012
8:40 PM

Post #9148511

Wow thats a nice collection... I want an Ae Ae so bad, i just cant justify the cost yet.. I started growing 2 basjoo banana last summer when i moved her from canada in july. Not sure how much these differ from other banana's, but i managed to keep them both alive all winter.. lost the leaves a few times due to mites and one frost (forgot to turn on my heater) but over all they did well... these past weeks i have 7 pups that came up, so i must be doing something right..

I'm hoping to get another one or two this summer, different types of course.. I figure maybe in a few more years i will give the ae ae a try when i have more knowledge with growing bananas, would hate to spend that kind of money to only have it die...
jen
Vinesnmore
Bronson, FL

June 3, 2012
10:38 AM

Post #9150283

My Raja Puri is blooming now! I'm excited as from what I've seen they have a large bunch of fruit. I have the Ae Ae now it arrived badly damaged but is recovering nicely. I'll post some pics of that and of my Raja Puri bloom when it opens as it is just starting to come up.
rjogden
Gainesville, FL
(Zone 8b)

June 7, 2012
10:22 AM

Post #9155776

Vinesnmore wrote:I am in North FL and going into my second year with over 20 different fruiting bananas. I kept the pseudostems of all of them alive this winter by not trimming leaves and using those as protection. They now are well over 10ft tall and I'm hoping for fruit this summer. I have the following
(snip)

Wow! You're way ahead of me - but I think I'm done collecting unless I can find more property with better soil (or a REALLY compelling reason, like a hardier variety with a shorter fruiting period). Mine are still in pots because I haven't been able to decide how to place them where they won't shade out anything else. They are:

Misa Luki
Pineapple
Pisang Ceylon
Lady Finger
Raja Puri

and an unknown cultivar I've had in a pot for years. The only reason I haven't thrown it out is because it stubbornly keeps coming back every year even though it's in a nursery container that stays outside all winter.

Chestnut Hill Tree Nursery, right down the road from me, sells and recommends Raja Puri for this area as the variety most likely to produce ripe fruit here. But I'd grow others just for the leaves, which are widely used everywhere bananas grow as portable cooking containers that also flavor the food cooked in them. They can be used just like any similar moldable material (soaked corn husks, parchment paper, aluminum foil) for making tamales, rice cakes, fish, etc.

I look forward to reports of your success!

-Rich
Vinesnmore
Bronson, FL

June 7, 2012
11:05 AM

Post #9155826

Here is a photo of my Raja Puri bloom it's up even more today but my camera broke (both regular and on my cell LOL guess I'm not supposed to take pictures!) I also believe that my Praying Hands is getting ready to send a bloom up as it has a paddle leaf now. I have newly acquired Manzano, Dwarf Puerto Rican, Golden Aromatic, Ice Cream, and SH3640 as well now but those are in pots until I decide where to put them. I have a small nursery just outside of Gainesville! I find it really hard to keep bananas in pots around as people want those first, but I dig even bigger ones for the same price and those transplant well too. I am thinking that soon my Praying Hands, FHIA-21, Orinoco and Dwarf Brazilian should be fruiting as well as maybe Pitogo! Rjogden you are welcome to come out to my place and see mine and see how well they really can do in our area anytime! I am actually colder than you are in Gainesville as I am on the outskirts! I think the big mistake alot of people make is cutting bananas to the ground when only the leaves are hit by the frost, therefore they lose their pseudostem which is really what needs to live to make the fruit. Even if the pseudostems get hit I only trim the part that is completely mush and no more so I just take a little bit off at a time! I'm including some photos of my bananas!

Thumbnail by Vinesnmore   Thumbnail by Vinesnmore   Thumbnail by Vinesnmore   Thumbnail by Vinesnmore   Thumbnail by Vinesnmore
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rjogden
Gainesville, FL
(Zone 8b)

June 13, 2012
5:26 AM

Post #9163262

Vinesnmore wrote:Rjogden you are welcome to come out to my place and see mine and see how well they really can do in our area anytime! I am actually colder than you are in Gainesville as I am on the outskirts! I think the big mistake alot of people make is cutting bananas to the ground when only the leaves are hit by the frost, therefore they lose their pseudostem which is really what needs to live to make the fruit. Even if the pseudostems get hit I only trim the part that is completely mush and no more so I just take a little bit off at a time! I'm including some photos of my bananas!

Thanks, I would love to take you up on the offer - I probably should bring some cash, as I know how I am around nurseries ;o).

I pretty much let my banana plants do what they want - I just pull the dried leaves off occasionally because they trap water at the bases and attract mosquitoes, And of course I fertilize them every time I think of it. Drop me a dmail when it's convenient to come out - I am semi-retired and usually can find time for trips during the week or on weekends.

-Rich

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