U.S.A., Washington State. USDA zone 8a. Sunset climate zone 5

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Abyssinian Banana Trees Overwintered

August 2014

On November 28, 2014, I posted about preparing my three Red Abyssinian Banana plants (Ensete ventricosum Maurelii) for winter (Abyssinian Banana Overwintering).
All three plants were dug out, placed in big plastic containers and moved into the garage. 

November 2014

To Chop-Not To Chop
The leaves were still beautiful in November, and I felt so bad chopping down one plant! The leaves were left on the two others. I'm glad I did that!
They kept the best!

Root Balls
I tried to keep a good amount of soil around the root balls, but it was defined by the size of the containers.  I added a bit of loose soil  and some mulch.
The poor chopped  plant, in the lower left corner of the collage below, also had a minimal amount of coverage around its roots. It looked the worst among the three of them, I even doubted it would survive, but it did!

Only one plant, in the picture below, had some light from the west-looking window in the garage. 
The second one stood on the floor in the middle of the garage getting little light, and the third one, the smallest, stood near the garage door and got some light only when the door was opened.

I didn't water the plants for the whole winter. Very small amount of water was given to them in March.

This is the biggest plant in November 2014

Except for the chopped plant, the other two plants had several of their leaves wilted and dried up, but at no point did they stay with no leaves at all.
Moreover, new leaves appeared. Even the chopped plant grew a couple of leaves. 

I replanted my Abyssinian Banana plants on the 9th of April after they spent a couple of days outside.
One plant, the smallest, went to the big container, the same one which held it last year.
 I used potting mix and some garden soil for it.

Here it is planted:

The second plant:

It went to the potager garden, to the same spot used last year, behind the Cat With the Fiddle.

The third plant, the biggest, took its position  near the back porch:

 In-ground planting was very easy since I used the same planting holes as last year. 
I added just a bit of new soil. 
 I am glad I decided to overwinter these beautiful plants.
I hope they'll be as attractive as they were in 2014:

 September 2014

September 2014

P.S. By the way, one of these plants I have had since 2013. So, it survived already 2 winters in the garage.

***Copyright 2015 TatyanaS


  1. Thank you for showing us how well the Abyssinian Banana survived with some shelter. Bananas are the ultimate in tropical foliage even where fruit doesn't develop. I saw bananas in the next county that survived outdoors, dying back to roots. I've never been ambitious enough to try one.

    1. Jean, our winters are pretty wet, and I think excessive moisture can kill bananas if left outdoors.
      As for you, if you ever get ambitious, please tell us about your experience!

  2. Thanks for the review of how you handled your red bananas this winter. There is still no sign of life from the supposedly hardy Musa basjoo that I planted in the ground last year. I might try planting a red one like yours and overwintering it in my garage or perhaps in the greenhouse.

    1. Alison, I used to have Musa basjoo which returned every summer for several years. They never grew big - I don't know why, but they were a nice addition to my cutting garden. One year, they just disappeared... Your Musa can appear later - I remember my plants were very late! Good luck!

  3. All your efforts are going to be rewarded ~ I bet your bananas look even better this summer Tatyana. I overwinter a lot of plants in my garage & have good success too. I think the most important thing is not to water much at all, which you mentioned. Your garden already looks SO amazing. We are greening up a bit here but still a lot of winter brown and of course, a chance of snow & frost thru mid-May. :( I'm ready to put things out!

    1. Kathleen, I hope we won't have a late frost! In our area, it's safe to put everything out after Mother's Day....

  4. So nice your Abyssinian Bananas survived the winter. They still look rather good and I´m sure they will grow beautiful again this summer, you have green fingers.

    1. Thanks Janneke! Our garage looked pretty exotic thanks to them!

  5. They look great and I am sure they will reward you beautifully this season, but what a dedication!

    1. Klara, thanks! It's just because we have a space in our garage!

  6. Such beautiful plants! I used to haul mine upstairs to a sunny window for the winter but it grew too tall for the house so I planted it in the ground that spring and let it stay outside during the winter and of course, that one died. Since then, I learned about chopping all the leaves off and storing them in the basement which my current specimen did successfully for two years. This fall, because I have a greenhouse, it got hauled in there and has been putting on a bit of growth all winter. It doesn't look as good as it did outside but I'll move it out soon and watch it take off. Yours will look spectacular again in a few weeks and I can't wait to see your follow-up post with grand banana foliage!

    1. Peter, I'm glad you have a survivor! Sometimes, I think it's not just a low temperature, but also moisture that kills them if they left outside.

  7. They are beautiful plants but they do get enormous. I managed to keep mine for a couple of years then gave it away. Maybe after seeing yours I will start again.

    1. chloris, you are so right about their size! I think I'll just stop bringing them indoors when they are huge... Or, I'll chop them down, bring indoors and see what happens. I always tell my plants: I give you a chance; if you want to live, then survive!

  8. I am so jealous! My beloved red banana did not survive last year's winter in the ground, although it had survived the winter before, and I was unable to find a replacement in 2014. I am still trying to find one to buy from a local nursery. I found an 18 in. one on the internet, which would cost a small fortune to buy and have shipped. I am not yet willing to spend a small fortune. I still hope to find one locally. The source of my original one promises me they will have some in soon. (They also promised me that last year!) Meanwhile, I admire your glut of red bananas. Be glad you are about 3000 miles from me. Otherwise, one of yours could mysteriously disappear one night!

    1. Deb, I am laughing! I'll open you a secret source of my trees which were pretty big when I bought them. It's not a fancy nursery, it's HD. They have them every year. Check them, please!


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