Banana Trees have big, lush leaves that provide gardens with a rich tropical look. The jungle-like appearance often has people thinking that these exotic trees will only grow in areas like the Amazon. However, Banana Trees can easily be grown in different climates all over the world. With a few simple steps to winterize, you will have healthy tropical trees in your landscape season to season.
Container Banana Trees
Keep in mind: While some cold hardy Banana Trees can survive temperatures up in zone 5, most tropical varieties are only cold hardy to zones 8 and 9.
Keep your Banana Trees in containers. If they’re planted in a container, you can easily bring them inside for the winter. Bring them in before temperatures drop to about 50 degrees and place them by a sunny window.
If you wait until the first frost before bringing your tree indoors, remove all of its leaves. Once the leaves have come into contact with frost, they can easily become infected and die. Removing the leaves will help stop infections from spreading to the rest of the tree.
Don’t worry about cutting the leaves: your trees are vigorous growers, and you will see new, huge leaves again in about a month.
You can carefully dig up the root system from the ground and transfer your tree to a container once the weather starts to turn cold. Bring your potted Banana Trees indoors for the winter months, and plant them in the ground again once temperatures consistently stay around 60 degrees.
To keep Banana Trees dormant in the winter, cut them back to about 12 inches tall and allow them to weep and water will drain from the stalk. Then carefully dig up the plant and gently remove as much dirt from the roots as possible. If you see any baby plants, separate them to plant them in the spring. Lay your plants on their sides for a few days so they can dry. Next, store your plants in a cool, dark place with a temperature around 50 degrees. Make sure that the storage area never has freezing temperatures. Once the final frost passes and temperatures warm up, replant your Banana Trees in the garden.
There are a few effortless steps to take if you want to keep your trees outside all year. First, cut your trees back to about 12 inches tall after the first frost. Use a sharp and sterile pair of pruners or loppers, and cut the stalks at a 45-degree angle, facing upwards to promote new growth.
Banana Trees will stop growing when temperatures hit 50 degrees. They will enter a state of dormancy and won’t need fertilizer or water until the spring.
Cover your trees with a thick layer of mulch that’s about a foot deep. This mulch will insulate the roots. Keeping them dry can be achieved by placing a layer of plastic over the mulch. Secure the plastic by placing rocks on the corners or by placing another layer of mulch on top.
Spreading other organic materials like peat moss or pine straw will also keep your tree insulated. You can even cover your tree with a barrel or another object that will shield it from harsh winter weather as long as the roots stay warm and dry.
After the final frost, uncover your tree. Once the roots sense warmer temperatures, your trees will spring back to life. Banana Trees have a rapid growth rate and will grow to their mature size in the blink of an eye. To give your tree a boost, feed it some organic, well-balanced fertilizer, like formula 10-10-10 or 12-12-12.
Bonus Tip: Once your Banana Tree blossoms and produces fruit, it will die back and new baby trees will grow in place. To prevent your mature tree from dying back, remove the flower before it blooms.
Grow Bananas, Even in the Winter!
Banana Trees will add a tropical look to your landscape with their large, inviting leaves. They’re the perfect addition for the patio or poolside. Not only do they look like flawless, Amazonian beauties, but they produce fresh and sweet bananas that are even tastier than those found in the supermarket. Don’t let winter stop you from growing your own trees – by taking a few simple steps to keep them warm and dry, they will flourish for years.