Banana trees are stunning additions to the garden. They can grow as much as 10 feet (3 m.) in a single season, and their imposing size and large leaves give a tropical, exotic look to your home. If you don’t actually live in the tropics, you’re going to have to find something to do with your tree once winter comes. Keep reading to learn more about how to keep a banana tree over winter.
Banana Plants in Winter
Temperatures below freezing will kill a banana’s leaves, and just a few degrees lower will kill the plant down to the ground. If your winters never get below the high 20s Fahrenheit (-6 to -1 C.), your tree’s roots may be able to survive outside to grow a new trunk in the spring. Any colder, though, and you’ll need to move it inside. The absolute easiest way to deal with banana plants in winter is simply to treat them as annuals. Since they grow so fast in a single season, you can plant a new tree in the spring and have a striking presence in your garden all summer. When fall comes, simply let it die and start the process over again next year. If you’re serious about keeping banana trees in winter, you’ll need to bring them indoors. Red banana plants are a popular choice for containers because they tend to be smaller. If you have a red banana that’s a manageable size, bring it inside before autumn temperatures start to drop and place it in as bright a window as you can find, and water it regularly. Even with good treatment, the plant will probably decline. It should survive until spring though.
Overwintering a Banana Tree Outside
Overwintering banana plants is a different story if they’re too big to fit inside. If this is the case, cut the plant down to 6 inches (15 cm.) above the ground and either apply a thick layer of mulch or store those in containers in a cool, dark place for the winter, watering it very minimally. You can also choose to leave the foliage on hardier types over winter. Give it a good watering in the spring to encourage new growth. It may not get as big as a plant that overwinters with its stem, but at least it will be alive for a new season. Hardy banana tree types will normally come back fine but may need pruning of any dead growth if it was left on.
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The only child of a horticulturist and an English teacher, Liz Baessler was destined to become a gardening editor. She has been with Gardening Know how since 2015, and a Senior Editor since 2020. She holds a BA in English from Brandeis University and an MA in English from the University of Geneva, Switzerland. After years of gardening in containers and community garden plots, she finally has a backyard of her own, which she is systematically filling with vegetables and flowers.
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