Can you help me with my banana trees? They are not hardy plants, so I have dug them out and cut them back to about 6 feet tall. They are big at the trunk, about 10 to 15 inches round. I have no basement or heated garage; I put them under my mother’s house, which is underpinned with blocks. I am not sure how cold it will get under there in the winter. I have about 20 banana trees, but I lose several each year to the cold.
The Gardener’s Answer
Hello, Patricia: Banana plants are considered tropicals for us here in Kentucky. However, they can be dug and saved from year to year. Storing them under the house will certainly give them protection but it will all depend on how cold it gets in terms of survival. The quantity you are dealing with may be a challenge, so trying a few different methods may be to your advantage. This way you will not be putting all your eggs in one basket. You can separate the smaller plants (pups) from the main plant to help when storage space is limited. Keep a few under the house and give them some added protection by wrapping the root ball in a black plastic bag or covering them with mulch. Do the same with another group and keep them in the unheated garage. The foliage is not the concern since it is the roots we are trying to keep alive. Ideally, they should be over-wintered in a dark space where the temperature range is around 40 degrees. Another option would be to pot a few of them up; this would be ideal for the smaller pups, cut the foliage back to just a few inches, and bring them indoors for the winter months. Keep them on the dry side. Next spring after the frost-free date has passed take them out of storage and cut back the foliage on the ones in the garage and under the house. New growth should emerge and keeping them well-watered and fertilized will help keep them happy.