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LeBeau Bamboo Nursery      Medford, Oregon 541-499-4992

How Do I Prepare My Banana Trees for Winter?

The Hardy Japanese Banana, or Musa sp. basjoo, is a hardy banana tree that grows up to twelve feet tall and produces leaves several feet long. Although they freeze back to the ground each fall, with proper care they will resprout in the spring. Hardy bananas grow fast enough to match their previous year's size by early to mid summer, and it usually only takes about two years for a young plant to reach its full size.

You can read more about this beautiful ornamental or buy young plants here: Hardy Banana - Musa basjoo.

Basjoo Bananas are hardy, but some fall care is needed to help them get through the winter - especially on first year plants.

Once banana trees are established the roots are frost hardy but young plants do not tolerate the cold nearly as well as older plants. If you receive your plant in the winter or spring before the expected last frost date you should protect your plant from frosts. Plant your banana directly into a container and keep it in your garage or another non-freezing location. Water the banana plant when you put it into the container but be sure there are drainage holes in the pot so that the tree doesn't rot. As soon as the danger of frost has passed you can plant your tree outdoors. If you purchase your banana tree during the growing season you should plant it outdoors right away.

Fall preparation for outdoor banana trees.

Fall: To keep your banana plant happy it needs a little bit of preparation for winter in the fall. Right before or after the first frost you should cut the tree back to about one foot tall. Make sure to cut the trunk at an angle so water doesn't pool up all winter and start rotting the crown. Many people put a plastic bag over the trunk to further prevent water from pooling in the cut end, which is especially helpful in areas with particularly long winters.

The trunk is cut at an angle about one
foot above the ground.
Cover the cut trunk under a mulch pile of wood chips, bark, or raked leaves as an insulating protective layer to prevent damaging freeze/thaw cycles.

Apply mulch over the trunk.
Spring: Remove the mulch pile and bag in the spring after the last frost and fertilize your banana to help get it jump started. Established plants will typically grow to five or six feet tall within a month or two and start producing additional trunks around the base of the original in mid-summer. Eventually banana plants form a small grove, you can protect the largest trunks in the fall to keep a larger grove or only protect the largest trunk to maintain a single tree specimen.

Three month old Musa basjoo trees in two gallon pots.

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