Banana plants actually are not trees but herbaceous perennials belonging to the family Musaceae. Preferring warm, tropical and subtropical temperatures, banana plants will slow down dramatically in growth when temperatures reach 57 degrees F. Optimal temperatures are between 80 and 95 degrees F. Gardeners living in northern regions where freezes are an annual event need to grow banana plants in containers, treat them as annuals or protect plants growing in the ground. Growing a cold-hardy variety in temperate regions is best. Most varieties require two seasons of growth to produce fruit.
Bananas Grown in Containers
Bring the container holding your banana plant indoors, if growing a dwarf variety, before temperatures reach the freezing mark.
Place the container in an area that is warm and receives sunlight during the day, watering once per week.
Reduce the water the banana receives to ready it for dormancy four to five weeks before trimming. Trim the main stalk of the banana plant down to approximately 1 foot, if the variety is too large to stay indoors during cold weather.
Place the container in a cool, dark area, such as in your garage, during cold weather, and allow the plant to go dormant.
Water the banana plant once every two weeks to keep the soil from completely drying out during storage.
Place the banana plant outdoors, once the temperatures rise to at least 50 degrees F. Water the plant to revive the growth process.
Bananas Grown in the Ground
Trim the main stalk of the banana plant down to approximately 2 feet in height, as suckers will grow out from the ground once warm weather arrives.
Place four stakes that are approximately 3 feet high around the base of the banana plant, creating a box 4 inches in diameter.
Wrap a piece of chicken wire around the stakes to create a boxed enclosure.
Fill the chicken wire box with mulched leaves, pressing them firmly into the enclosure. Do not use wholes leaves, as they will retain moisture and can cause the banana plant to develop rot and die. Cover the entire stump of the banana plant, and leave in place until warm weather returns.
Remove the leaves when the weather warms and new sucker shoots develop from around the base of the banana plant. Water the plant after removing the dry leaves.
About this Author
Joyce Starr is a freelance writer from Florida and owns a landscaping company and garden center. She has published articles about camping in Florida, lawncare, gardening and writes for a local gardening newsletter. She shares her love and knowledge of the outdoors and nature through her writing.