Monday, October 12, 2009

Banana Trees Grow Very Happily in Tennessee

From In the Garden

It is time for an update on the banana 'trees' here in my garden. I thought it time because every single time someone comes over they remark how nice the garden is then their eyes for some reason get glued to these banana trees in the center of the vegetable garden and that is all they think about. It doesn't matter how nice the Angel Trumpets (shown above right next to the banana trees), or the Sunny Perennial Border or all the other flowers and ornamentals look in the garden, no, the one thing that all folks come back to looking at and talking about are the banana trees.

The banana trees have become quite a focal point for my landscape. It is probably all my fault. I planted one single plant three years ago in a prominent location in the center of the vegetable garden. I even made the banana tree its own bed found here. The soil was all native soil heavily amended with home made compost. The pH is a near perfect 7.0 and the area of the banana bed gets the most sun I can find in my garden-about 3-6 hours a day during the growing season depending on the angle of the sun. This bed gets the most sun when the sun is directly overhead in June and July; less hours in the spring, late summer and fall. I have added no fertilizer to this bed and give the bananas no special attention at all, though they probably need a compost boost as it has been a few years since I've added any compost. Put that on the fall chore list for the vegetable garden-check.

To give you some idea of the scale of the banana trees I measured the PVC arbor at the front of the vegetable garden. The height of the PVC arbor is 12 feet at its highest. You can see the banana trees are about 6-8 feet taller than that so I estimate the banana trees to be close to 20 feet tall. They are simply incredible and do make a gigantic focal point in my landscape. They can be seen from out front and everywhere you go in the backyard.

As long as the temperatures stay moderate these hardy Japanese bananas will continue to grow new leaves. The new leaves are huge and very fresh and new when compared to the old leaves. The old leaves usually get shredded by the western winds coming in this time of the year but that is okay. Other than placing the bananas next to my home on the eastern side of the house I can do nothing to stop the winds.

These 'trees' have no woody fiber in them at all. They are mostly all water and long bits of tissue that is closely knit together. The base of the trunks are about 12' in diameter and up. They are simply works of wonder. To see a good pictures of what is inside the banana trunk do look at this post found here. Once the first hard freeze comes these 20 foot tall banana trees will be laying on the ground in a big mass. We usually try to cut them down prior to that happening but if not, it is fine. After the debris is disposed of I sometimes mulch the bed with hay, sometimes not but I do not dig them up and bring them in the house. Can you imagine how hard that would be?? These bananas have wintered over for three winters now with no problems. I place all debris from the current season's growth into the nearby compost bin. The bananas will have completely composted by next summer and will go back....

in the garden....to help provide for next year's banana trees.

40 comments:

  1. Wow that is big! Tina, what is growing on the arbor to the left?

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  2. That is SO amazing to see Tina ! I wish we could do that here, but it would have no chance ? LOL
    I too am interested about the left side arbor .. what is that .. and another wow on those Datura girl !
    Joy : )

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  3. JOAT's aunt had one of these when we visited in Texas and it had a few banannas on it. I asked her last summer when she came up here, if she still had it. She took it out, she said it had become annoying to her, probaby due to the winds, half in part though she took her pool out. I got to tell ya, it was the only shade in the back yard, nice place for snakes.

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  4. That is a lot of compost material! Have you ever gotten a banana from them?

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  5. :) WOW! I'm sure you would have figured from my posts by now...how fixated on the banana plant.

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  6. Holy Toledo! Massive banana tree alert! I have no idea the inside of them was like that. Thanks for all the great info. I don't blame you for not bringing that hulk in the house for the winter. You are lucky it comes back!
    Rosey

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  7. Wow Tina that is a tall banana. Good for you that it stays in the ground. I have talked to so many folks who store their bananas under the house or in the garage or basement. That would be too much to deal with. Does the banana put up more shoots each year, making for a 'grove' of banana trees? Love your Brugmansia.

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  8. Tina, you bananas are huge! Amazing that they grow that big in one year. My dad grows a few musas inside, one year he transplanted one and threw out part of it into a pile of wood ashes in the forest, the next year, we had a wild banana growing out there, I think it got potted back up. Zone 6.

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  9. It's amazing they can regrow a 20-foot tree every year.
    Marnie

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  10. We actually got fruit from ours at the old house....they are great...quite invasive we have found here..

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  11. Wow, that really is incredible. Sure is a beauty but so is the Angel Trumpet. I was going to ask if that was a PVC pipe abor but got the answer when reading the post. What is growing on the abor? I also like that but then again, I have always loved vines.

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  12. Hi all! Good morning and Happy Columbus day!

    The arbor is made from 6" PVC that I painted green with Fusion paint. The monster vine on the left side is Sweet Autumn Clematis, the vine on the right side is a double jessamine (Gelsium sempervirens 'Pride of Augusta'). The jessamine is taking a bit longer than the clematis to fill in.

    Dave, No bananas yet but I had a bloom last summer. I think I need two blooms for fertilization.

    Janet, Oh yes! Quite a grove going but it is confined to one raised bed edged with concrete half circles. I do divide and give some away too.

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  13. You are quite the green thumb gardener, Tina, to get those bananas to grow so well for you. For some reason I thought you dug them up, do you dig the brugs? Your spot looks just like my neighbor Mickey's with the yellow brug and banana, but I don't think his banana is that big, he digs it up every year. Kudos to you, my friend! :-)
    Frances

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  14. That is so cool! I can't believe how tall they get over the summer, amazing! I can see why people would be drawn to them, and with the Angels Trumpets nearby they are so tropical looking.

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  15. LOL, Tina, I saw the angle's trumpet before I saw the banana trees! It must be the pretty orange color and fun shapes! Not that the bananas aren't cool, because they certainly are. I wish they grew here. Do they actually get the fruit? BTW, the orange cosmos I got from you in the seed swap have been a favorite in my garden this year. They're still going, but on their way out. I'm definitely collecting seeds from them this year!!

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  16. It's not just that you HAVE banana trees, Tina, it's that they look so happy and green. I've seen such ratty looking banana trees, and let me tell you, yours are outstanding!

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  17. WOW! I'm almost speechless. Can't really believe that the grow that big in one season! My little, tiny banana tree doesn't grow that much. But we haven't got the same weather do we =) And my tree is planted in a pot. Do you meen that you cut the whole tree down and take what's left inside during the winter? I use to put the whole pot in the livingroom and hope for the best. We now have our third banana tree so you understand that it doesn't work out well every time.

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  18. Tina, it's Cassia alata for yellow sulphur butterflies and milkweed for the monarchs..

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  19. It's quite eye catching and very exotic looking for Tennessee! Maybe we are inured to brugmansias now! I see them more then ever~~Not so much the bananas! Both are wonderful and I love the cold frames at their feet. Is each a different, fun color? gail

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  20. ONW, I have never heard of banana trees growing that far North let along that big. I've seen some in my neighbors yard but they are little & ratty looking. They do tend to take over here in the deep South.
    Love that Brug. Sadly mine didn't bloom this yr. It could be that I had it in a pot. Next yr. it will go into the ground.

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  21. Hi all, To save my sanity I've been kind of just answering questions on here and generally saying hello. I can't keep up so please forgive the non individual responses.

    Frances, I do not dig the brugs or bananas. I used dig the brugs but I left this orange one outside last winter only winterizing it as advised by our local expert. I cut it down, place a 40 pound bag of compost or soil or mulch on top, and leave it alone until the spring. It came back wonderfully and is even bigger than last year since it has a good root system. The bananas I've never dug. An impossible feat for me if I tried and not worth it. They are on their own and doing fine.

    Monica, I'm hoping for bananas at some point. So far only a bloom. Glad you like those cosmos. They are like all over this country and all I've sent them to have enjoyed them. Tickles me orange;>

    Gittan, No I simply cannot dig these bananas and bring them. Too big. I advise folks in my zone or a higher zone (6 or better) to try to leave some outside but if they are worried the bananas won't come back then by all means dig. For me it was not so important if they come back but after 3 years I've had great success.

    Thanks all for you kind comments!

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  22. I've never seen a 20' banana in a zone 7 garden. Impressive!

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  23. Haha, I'm eating a banana as I read this, Tina!! It'll be really cool when you DO it does fruit for you ;)

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  24. So... where the heck are the bananas and the monkeys? :-)

    I think those look amazing! Very architectural!

    Cameron

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  25. How interesting! I would have never thought these would grow in Tennessee. -Jackie

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  26. It's really hard to imagine bananas doing so well in your climes. They look great! And the compost they provide must be a substantial amount for the garden. I like your arbour and Angel trumpets too!

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  27. My goodness, Tina, these trees are huge! It's no wonder everyone's eyes are drawn to these exotic trees. I'm amazed that you can overwinter them as well.

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  28. You nanners are awesome Tina! They are indeed a show piece in your yard but I did notice those Angel Trumpets as well on my last visit.
    If our nanners get this big, oh boy we may be in trouble with our nanners. lol

    Was fun going back and reading my comments on the first post! ;-)

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  29. Late as usual but here I am. I love the angel trumpet...it's on my "wanna wanna" list! And the banana tree! Wow.

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  30. All this in 3 year's time? I think Tennessee is kinder to bananas than Oregon. Next year will be year three for my newest, biggest banana, but they're not trending to 20 feet. Good to know they will gain so much height in one year. So if I miss my big insulation routine, they still should recover pretty well, it seems.

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  31. Wholly crap, those banana are amazing!

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  32. my mother grew a banana tree in Harriman TN hers is 30ft

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  33. ok so when can i transplant mine that is in the ground now......ive got like 12 in one spot that i need to move when is the best time to do that

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    1. Kristal, you didn't say your location but I can give you general guidelines. If you are in the deep south such as Florida (Zone 8 and above) you can probably transplant now. If you are in my area or Zone 6 and 7 (Georgia-Alabama-Tennessee and up further north), you should wait until the spring to transplant. Bananas will need time to settle in and transplanting now would not give them enough time to get established prior to the ground freezing. Spring transplanting has the added benefit of allowing you to dig the new shoots as they come up easily-with no worries of the large stalks that come in fall. Good luck!

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    2. Thanks so much, I'm in southern middle tn......so I should just leve them alone till the first part of spring or after the threat of frost.....how should I do it cause I've got 6 big BIG ones at least 7-8 ft tall they are clumped together almost as if one was planted and put off the others and there is like 6+more ranging in 6ft all the way down to 2ft then a few just inches....lol its crazy

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  34. when should i transplant mine, ive got like 12 in the same little clump and they are puting off more little trees.....

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    1. Kristal, just use a long sharp shovel and cut down as far from the stalk without hitting another banana stalk as you can. They do clump out from the main plant but are easily separated with a sharp shovel. Hardy bananas don't need much of a root to start a new plant in my experience but you of course want to keep as many as possible. Dividing in spring will be easy when the trees are small. Do not attempt it when they are big. These are really easy to split and make more or give away to your friends.

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