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This month in the garden...


"The best way to make sure you're removing a weed and not a valuable plant? If it comes out of the ground easily it's a valuable plant."



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This Month in the Garden (October 2010)

 Banana in Port Washington

Many northern gardeners turn to cannas, caladiums and taros to add a tropical look to summer gardens but all of these plants need to be lifted in the autumn and replanted in the garden the following spring. The Japanese Fiber banana (Musa basjoo), however, can be overwintered in the ground as far north as zone 5 with a thick covering of mulch.

With proper watering and frequent feeding the Fiber banana can grow as much as an inch and a half per day, reaching anywhere from six to fifteen feet tall by the beginning of autumn. Individual leaves will be more than four feet long and a new one may appear each week. The bananas produce suckers and groves of the plants will develop over time.

Near lake Michigan the bananas will grow well into October. When threatened by frost, cut the trunk of the plant down to 24Ē in height. Create a cage out of six foot high wire fence and fill with dry leaves (it takes about 80 forty-gallon trash bags to fill the cage over these bananas.) Cover the leaf pile with a tarp.

In spring, when the evening temperatures are in the forties, uncover the plant. The stumps will sprout new growth. If the stumps are frost damaged, new shoots will appear at the base of the old trunk so donít give up on the plant if the trunks have turned to gelatin under the mulch.

Musa basjoo does not produce edible fruit but this far north the plants may still produce flowers. They are filled with exceptionally sweet nectar enjoyed by bees and other insects.

Fiber bananas combine well with other hardy plants such as clumping bamboo (Fargesia nitidia) that are tropical look-alikes. This bamboo is easy to control and will not send out aggressive runners. In our area the bamboo reaches only five to six feet tall despite being listed as a taller plant in catalogs.


This Month in the Garden Archive:

November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
June 2010

April 2010
March 2010
February 2010

January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009

March 2009


Port Washington Garden Club, PO Box 492, Port Washington, Wisconsin 53074
Registered 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization