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How to Care for Banana Plants over Winter

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How to Care for Banana Plants over Winter

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Overview

Banana plants (Musa spp.) are herbaceous tree-like plants that are native to Southeast Asia and enjoy tropical climates. Banana plants require 10 to 15 frost-free months in order to flower and bear fruit. The banana plant grows from underground rhizomes, producing fleshy stalks called pseudostems that produce bananas only once. Banana plants are sensitive to winds and droughts. The banana plant cannot survive temperatures colder than 22 degrees F or long periods below 28 degrees, demanding winter protection in all but the warmest regions.

Step 1

Water your banana plant deeply and thoroughly once every one or two weeks during winter to prevent the soil from drying out. Water the banana plant only when rainfall is less than 1 inch per week during winter.

Step 2

Spread a 2- to 6-inch-thick layer of organic mulch on the ground around your banana plant to preserve soil moisture during winter, as well as to protect the shallow roots and rhizomes.

Step 3

Cover the banana plant or wrap the trunk with a blanket when temperatures below 22 to 28 degrees F are expected. Remove the covering when the air warms up in the morning.

Step 4

Reduce the amount of fertilizer that you apply to the banana plant during the winter months. Apply a fertilizer with a nitrogen-phosphorous-potassium ratio of 3-1-6 and that contains magnesium once every two months at half the normal dosage rate during winter.

Step 5

Continue to prune away the excess shoots growing from the base of the banana plant as they appear, even in winter. Cut back all the shoots except for the single primary stem growing from each rhizome.

Tips and Warnings

  • Beware of root rot disease infecting your banana plant, especially when the soil is cold and wet during the winter months. Prevent root rot by avoiding over-watering the banana plants during winter, providing just enough water to keep the soil from drying out. Apply a copper-based fungicide or horticultural oil to treat fungal diseases in your banana plant.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden hose or irrigation system
  • Organic mulch
  • Blanket
  • Complete fertilizer
  • Pruning shears

References

  • California Rare Fruit Growers: Banana Fruit Facts
  • University of Florida IFAS Extension: Banana Growing in the Florida Home Landscape

Who Can Help

  • Tropica Mango: How Not to Kill Your Banana Tree (Plant)
Keywords: banana plant care, banana winter care, grow banana tree

About this Author

Sarah Terry brings 10 years of experience writing novels, business-to-business newsletters, and a plethora of how-to articles. Terry has written articles and publications for a wide range of markets and subject matters, including Medicine & Health, Eli Financial, Dartnell Publications and Eli Journals.