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Banana plants bring a touch of the exotic into your home, on the balcony or, you read that right, in the garden. The banana belongs to the genus Musa. A related species is the Japanese fiber banana, botanically Musa Basjoo, which, when planted with appropriate protection, can even survive cold and frost outdoors.


Overwintering by variety

Depending on the variety, the banana plants have to overwinter differently. Musa Basjoo is originally from East Asia. A cultivated form of this species is the dwarf form Nana, also called Sakhalin. It grows up to 3.5 meters high. Basjoo and its cultivated forms are the hardiest banana plants. They are even planted out in Germany because they can survive the hibernation outdoors quite well. But be careful: these varieties are not completely hardy either. Some precautions must be taken against the German winter so that the plant survives frost and cold.

  • maximum frost resistance -3 degrees Celsius
  • Antifreeze required
  • Time for winter protection measures: before the first frost in late autumn

Banana plants from subtropical and tropical climate zones do not survive the German winter outdoors. Even in the cold season, they need temperatures between 10 and 18 degrees Celsius. Representatives from the tropical zone are the species Musa acuminata Dwarf Cavendish or Musa Dwarf Red. For these species, the apartment or the conservatory with +18 degrees Celsius is the ideal winter quarters.

Overwinter the planted banana tree

Banana plants of the Basjoo variety are being planted more and more often in the garden in this country. So that the banana tree survives the winter, there are various ways to protect the plant from cold and wet.

  • Rhizome overwinters outdoors
  • shorten stem
  • Build winter shelter

Tip: The cut leaves can be used as compost if you chop them first.

Rhizome overwintering

In order for the plant to survive the winter, it is sufficient if only the rhizome, i.e. the underground part of the banana plant, is protected.

  • saw or cut the trunk just above the ground
  • cover well with clean insulating material

Tip: The trunk of the banana plant does not become lignified. It consists of tough fibers that are difficult to cut. In order not to damage the trunk unnecessarily, a saw is better suited for cutting the trunk than garden shears.

Straw, fallen leaves, brushwood or styrofoam plates are best suited as covering material. A waterproof film is not suitable for the cover. If the sun is shining, condensation can form under the film. The resulting moisture can cause the rhizome to rot, which is deadly for the banana tree.

However, this relatively simple form of hibernation has disadvantages. The banana plant will never reach its full height of up to 3 meters as it is cut off annually. As a result, it will not form any flowers either. However, if you want to keep your banana tree small, you can definitely use this form of hibernation.

shorten trunk

Shortening the banana trunk

Another overwintering option for the banana plant is to shorten the trunk. In this case, the tree does not lose its entire growth height and slowly achieves a stately appearance.

  • shorten the trunk to a third of the total length
  • trim tall plants to waist height
  • Build a rabbit wire fence around the plant
  • Fill the fence with insulating material (straw, dry leaves).
  • Trunk must be covered
  • protect the upper end of the trunk from moisture with a bucket
  • Wrap fence with cold protection (bast or reed mats)

If you wrap the fence in foil, this must be removed for ventilation on frost-free days. Alternatively, you can use a diffusion-open foil. You can get this in specialist shops under the name "mulch fabric" and it has the great advantage that it does not have to be removed.

An alternative to the fence is to sheathe it with insulating material. Old mattresses or insulating boards are suitable for this. They must be fixed without gaps with a cord or rope. The banana tree is only unpacked again when there is no more frost.

Tip: Give the antifreeze a slight tilt. This allows rain to run off more easily.

Build winter shelter

With the third option of wintering, the banana tree does not lose height. To do this, however, it must be completely surrounded by winter protection. The plant should be rebuilt with a slatted structure.

  • Shorten the leaves to a hand width
  • Fill the inside of the scaffolding with straw or leaves

Hibernation in the basement

You can also overwinter Musa Basjoo and her subtropical colleagues in the basement. In this case there are two possibilities:

Plant Overwintering

If the banana overwinters in a dark, frost-free room, it must first be reaccustomed to the sun at the beginning of the outdoor season. In order for the plant to acclimate well, do not immediately place it in the blazing sun. A shady spot with some sun is the ideal place to get used to it.

Rhizome overwintering in the basement

The best time to hibernate is when temperatures drop below 5 degrees Celsius.

  • dig up the rhizome
  • Injuries to the roots do not harm the plant
  • Place the rhizome on a layer of peat or bark mulch in a frost-free basement
  • Alternative: Styrofoam plate
  • cover with a damp cloth
  • Keep cloth damp all winter

plant overwinter

Overwintering the entire plant is certainly dependent on the size of the plant. It saves space if you shorten the leaves before the plant goes into winter quarters. Since they dry up anyway during the hibernation, this is not a loss.

  • pour little
  • dark, frost-free basement room or garage
  • at around 10 degrees Celsius
  • Start of the outdoor season: mid-May

Before the banana tree can go outside again, all old leaves must be cut off. The banana will quickly sprout again, even if only the stem remains.

Tip: Large banana plants can be overwintered lying down or at an angle. Be careful not to snap the trunk. Padding the trunk is therefore recommended.

Hibernation indoors

Overwinter in the apartment or in the conservatory

Banana plants that need a temperature of over 18 degrees Celsius even in winter can overwinter in the apartment, in the conservatory or in a heated greenhouse. Since these plants also go into hibernation, the following should be observed.

  • bright location
  • pour little
  • small quantities
  • Soil should pull away from the edge of the pot or bucket
  • regularly check for spider mites

House bananas overwinter

Banana plants can of course also be cultivated as houseplants. However, they also need sufficient light in winter. If this is the case, the banana plant does not need a special winter location in your own four walls. If there is not enough light, you can help the banana with a special plant spotlight. Alternatively, the house banana can also "hibernate" in a cooler place. Then it needs less light and also less water.

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