Over Wintering Banana Plants
If you're planting the banana tree outdoors, choosing the right planting site is key to making care easy. Grow this plant in a location where it will be sheltered from strong winds, as it is very susceptible to damaged leaves. Prepare your planting site by mixing some compost into the soil. And make sure you have enough space for the height and spread of your particular species.
During the growing season (spring to Autum), banana trees are water hogs. You might have to water daily, especially during hot weather, to maintain adequate soil moisture. The plants also will need regular fertilization throughout the growing season.
Musa basjoo is the only banana plant we recommend overwintering outdoors. All other bananas have a better chance of surviving the winter if dry stored, moved to a heated greenhouse or indoors.
Step 1 - Remove the leaves
Straight after the first light frosts you will need to cut all the leaves off the banana just above the top of the stem. You may see that some of the foliage has blackened due to these light frosts, which will generally trigger the plant into dormancy.
It is important to use a sharp pair of secateurs and make a sloping cut away from the centre of the stem. This sloping cut will prevent any moisture from channelling into the stem of the plant and causing it to rot.
Step 2 - Wrap fleece around the plant
Wrap the whole plant with horticultural fleece ensuring that there are no exposed gaps.
Use garden twine to securely tie up the fleece, tightly enough that the fleece stays in place but not enough to damage the trunk of the banana.
Step 3 - Wrap hessian around the fleece
Another layer of hessian can be wrapped around the fleece and securely tied; this will offer even more protection.
It can be difficult to wrap this on your own and it may be necessary to have someone to offer an extra pair of hands. Fleece and hessian may be all that’s needed if the plant is in a sheltered spot.
Extra protection for cold areas
Step 4 - Erect a wire frame around the plant
If you really want to ensure the plant's survival, another way to protect it would be to stretch a wire frame (chicken wire) around the trunk of the banana and secure this with two stakes which are hammered in on either side of the banana (taking care not to disturb the roots).
It’s important to wear thick gardening gloves while working on this part of the process as bits of metal and wire can easily scratch or even cut your hands. Ideally you should have a gap of around 15cm (6in) from the circumference of the wire to the tree trunk.
Step 5 - Pack the cage with straw
Fill the wire cage up with straw or dry bracken, packing it in quite tightly and being careful to surround the trunks completely without damaging them.
Continue filling the cage upwards until all the stems are well covered. The intention is to prevent rain, snow and ice from getting into the middle of the plant.
Step 6 - Fix a plastic cover over top
The last step of the process is to attach a polythene sheet over the top of the banana. Secure the plastic so that it does not blow away in the wind, this can be held in place using cable ties. This waterproof sheet will guarantee that no rain water will enter the structure.
Dry Storing Bananas
Trim the leaves and pseudostem (trunk) of the banana plant down to 6 to 8 inches after the first frost of the fall.
Dig the banana plant out of the ground with a pitchfork. Take care not to damage the rhizome or the pseudostem.
Shake off excess soil from the rhizome.
Wash all the soil off then leave standing upside down for a few days so inside the plant is dry.
Wrap the base of the plant loosely in hessian to keep the banana dry, to prevent rot rot.
Store the banana inside a cool, dark place such as an unheated garage or basement until the last spring frost of the year.