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How to best “winter” banana trees?

Q. How best to winter? I dig them up every fall. I have placed them in dirt in a dark room and watered sparingly, and I have rolled them in a sheet with bare roots. They have survived both ways. They are about 12 feet tall and in order to winter I have to cut them back. Is there any way to winter them in place in my landscape so I don’t have to dig them up and cut them back? – Lisa Brickey, Sandy Hook (Grayson RECC)

 

A. Hi, Lisa: It sounds like your bananas are happy! Regardless of where they overwinter, the foliage will need to be cut back. If left in the landscape the first frost will kill the foliage and it will need to be removed before you can prepare the roots for the winter months. Do you know the variety of banana that you are growing? Some are more cold tolerant than others. It’s the roots that need to be protected and like you mentioned, there are several ways of successfully doing this. Leaving them in the landscape is less maintenance on your part since no digging is involved. You could even dig up a few of the smaller pups to overwinter indoors and leave the larger ones in the ground and cover with several inches of mulch. In the spring as the temperatures rise, remove most of the mulch and hopefully new growth will begin. If you don’t know the variety you are growing, this will be an experiment but if you lose the ones in the landscape you will have the pups to plant in the spring.

 

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