Sunday, October 4, 2009

Musa basjoo

UPDATE:  My Musa basjoo is a lot happier in the greenhouse.  The size of each leaf has doubled!


It started to get a bit cool here so I'm bringing in some of the more tender plants. The first to come in is a Musa basjoo. Supposedly it's cold tolerant and would survive winters here. The stem would die but it should resprout from the rhizomes in the spring (with a little protection). Unfortunately I'm not yet ready to tempt fate. There are now four young pups at the base so I figure I'll be willing to risk some next year.

I've had this plant for about a year and a half. For the first summer I kept it in a small pot and it didn't end up growing very much. I brought it in for the winter and it put out a few leaves but barely grew. In the spring I decided to stick it in the ground and it has done very well. The summer was really cool but it's now about 1.5m tall and the stem thickness has quadrupled.

I'm hoping to bring it into the greenhouses for the winter so it continues to grow. I'll probably offer one of the pups as payment. I'm sure they won't care either way but I figure if I'm using space/water/fertilizer the least I can do is supply a new specimen.

I was very surprised to find that the root ball was relatively small. It was out of the ground in under a minute. I thought about removing the two largest pups but I figure it's best to wait until spring. It's already been though a shock so I shouldn't tempt fate.

If anyone has succesfully overwintered basjoo in zone 5/6 i would really appreciate hearing about your methods. Then I can refer back to them next winter.

I love bananas, even with damaged leaves! They are just so tropical looking.


  1. Well, I'm in zone 7 so I'm not much help but I have overwintered it my garden with no problems at all. This is the first hardy banana that I've found.

  2. It's still encouraging. I think there is also a species called Musa yunnan (intinerans). You may have luck with that as well if you would like to try it. Another one you could try is Musa velutina which is not very cold hardy but grows well as a houseplant in winter. In fact, it's one of the few that will flower indoors. It's a dwarf variety and has beautiful pink/purple flowers that eventually produce very sweet fruit (but it's filled with seeds).

  3. I heard from someone up on the north side of the GTA (5b) that they overwinter a fruiting fig by putting up a plywood box + Styrofoam insulation & filling with dry leaves... I'm sure a supposedly hardy plant (and one that can be cut back) could be treated somewhere between that extreme and maybe protection for a rose at the bare minimum. If you remove some of the pups next spring I'd definitely try wintering those.

  4. Sounds good. Next year I'll have graduated and won't be able to put it in the greenhouse for the winter. I won't have room to keep them all inside and there's no point in getting a hardy banana if I never try to over winter it!


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