Monday, October 20, 2008

Time to Put the Banana to Bed

I grew this Musa glauca from seed several years ago. Supposedly hardy, I sacrificed his sister to the winds and snow to find out just how tough she was and sadly found absolutely nothing in her place the following spring. Hardy in the land of ice and snow is a relative term.

For those of you who like to grow bananas, but don't have a tonne of inside room, I have found that this method has worked well for me over the last 3 years or so:
Dig up the plant.
Remove all but the top leaf.
Shake off quite a bit of soil.
Dump in a brown paper refuse bag.
Store in basement until first frost free day.
Take outside.
Stick in garden and watch it start to grow all over again.

The only note of caution is that Musa glauca stains terribly - it is impossible to remove the dark brown sap stains from clothing. I tried this storage method with tinier plants and did not have as much success - although the poor things were sitting next to the furnace all winter - I suspect cooking them would be considered a poor horticultural practice.


Northern Shade said...

It sounds like you have a good, simple system figured out for keeping your banana going.
I once read an account of someone living in a colder zone, who had an elaborate overwintering procedure involving building a box around the banana, insulating with housing insulation inside, and putting two electrical lights for heat inside that ran constantly all winter, in case one of them burnt out. The basement storage idea sounds more practical.

Barbarapc said...

I figured that when plants were being collected in the 1700s - they probably didn't have a lot of room on those little ships and that it was a fair bit of time until the specimens were planted back up again - so it was worth a try and it worked. I love the story about the gardener and the box - certainly makes for a more interesting tale!

easygardener said...

I've just bought one of those (half price in a sale!. At the moment I've squeezed it into my greenhouse for the winter but I'll bear your idea in mind if it gets too tall.
That explains the brown stains on my hand after I carried it in. Couldn't think what caused it.

Lucy Corrander said...

You must be incredibly brave to have tried this the first time - and it seems one of the miracles of plant life that it can work. A sort of death and resurrection experience.

But you have brought me to one of my 'of course, why didn't I think of that before' moments. Plant collectors clearly had clever ways to store plants when they brought them from far flung lands. So there must be ways of storing them without having to put them on a ship first!


Barbarapc said...

E.G. Aren't sales the best! I've tried bananas from seed for the past two years and had no success - the year I started this one, I had 5 germinate - I really think that plants may be the way to go.
Lucy, I was so stuck for space - I thought what the heck - someone must have tried this years ago. Had the root system been bigger, I might have stopped right there - but when I saw how small it was - and how neatly it fit into the bag. I was over the moon when I saw the centre of the plant had continued to grow in the dark.