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I have been watching this forum and I have got the banana tree fever. I want to grow one here, in a container, if possible. I will grow outdoors, until it gets too cold and then move it inside or whatever I need to do to keep it alive until the following spring. So, what type of banana tree should I buy? I know that some are easier to grow than others. I want one with big beautiful leaves but that might not be the best kind to grow. So, what should someone like me, with no experience, grow? And where do I find one? And when should I start growing it? Your help is most appreciated.
I'm way north of you but my musa basjoo is outside overwintering under mulch. My understanding is that in zone 7a, with several varietes of musa and ansetes you'll be able to grow them outside, in the soil with minimal protection (mulching), as die-back perennials. Start with musa basjoo (Japanese Fiber Banana) and musa sikkimensis (Himlayan Banana). You might also try musa itinerans (Giant Yunan Banana), and ansete glaucum (Snow Banana).
If edible fruit is your aim, I am not familiar with any cold-hardy edible varietes, but I am sure someone in here who is will reply. :)
Just a technicality: The banana plant, though it is called a 'banana-tree' in popular usage, is technically regarded as a herbaceous plant (or 'herb'), not a tree, because the stem does not contain true woody tissue. Another fun fact to store in your brain!
Jesse, I grow several different varieties of bananas, and have found dwarf Cavendish to be suitable for containers. While many bananas can be grown in containers, I prefer to grow the smaller varieties in pots and the larger varieties in the ground.
The ones grown in containers are easily moved inside the basement or garage for the winter. While lots of folks here locally grow basjoo as it is hardy, I prefer some of the other varieties.
I agree with nathalyn that DC is a good container tree. I really also like Dwarf Red...it has a red pseudostem and red central leaf vein. Before I saw this thread, I had just added a photo to PlantFiles! I also grow Dwarf Orinoco, it could be kept in container.
A comment on culture... In three words, bananas hate winter. They hate low temps, low light and low humidity. So during the winter, if you want to keep them green and growing, keep light levels up. Spider mites in winter are a big problem, so mist frequently or otherwise keep the humidity up, and keep some air moving around them if possible. They are also heavy feeders. I have grown them in Promix-type potting soil as well as peat/loam soil in the greenhouse. With proper culture they will grow all year, though more slowly in the winter.
Joegee, it is my understanding is that you won't get fruit from M. basjoo and others in these marginal zones, since it dies back, is that right?
I'm not sure, Stressbaby. From what I have seen about m. basjoo being grown down in Kentucky I can expect it to send out pups like mad, and create a nice thick 6' high clump, but I think you're right. My growing season may be long enough for flowering, but it will be too short for the fruit to ripen.
JesseK If you can grow in a large pot [with casters on the bottom] and move the plant inside durring freezing weather, you can get bananas from Dwarf Cavandish. --but like has been mentioned --they hate winter --any way if you keep the stalk from freezing and alive it will fruit . -- If you can transplant a new shoot about mid summer and keep it going till next spring it will fruit in mid summer and you will get Ripe bananas by fall.
What size pot do you recommend? I need to know what size so I will know what size cart to put it on. They have those little round things with wheels on them and they aren't too expensive. What size would I need to buy?
I would get the largest size that will work for you, -ie--fit in the house, and you are able to move with out getting hurt. Bananas will grow in smaller containers but if you want fruit get a big one--like 20 gallon if you can --if not, go smaller. the ripe fruit on the DC will sometimes exceed 40 pounds, and you need a large enough container to keep that from tipping over, [I have used all kind of crop suport]-- I will go out and get you a picture or two --I have 3 or 4 bunches in the greenhouse right now--
Even though these plants have some frost damage the bananas will still ripen and be fine. It got down to 20 deg here a few weeks ago and the tops and ends of the bananas got frozen-[in the greenhouse]-but they are still growing, just slow--as long as the stalk doesn't freeze it will fruit,[even if the leaves freeze]