Wintering the banana tree properly | Is the banana hardy?

The banana tree is available in around 70 different types, which sometimes make different demands on proper winter storage. Some prefer cool, dark rooms, others feel comfortable in warmer temperatures when the outside temperature is icy. Accordingly, hobby gardeners should know in advance what kind of banana tree it is that they want to be properly wintered.

General hibernation

Basically, all banana trees need a hibernation, regardless of whether it is a room or a garden. The hibernation lasts about three months. Depending on the temperature, it usually begins in November and ends at the end of February at the latest. During this resting phase, the banana tree stops growing, which is why it is referred to as a vegetation break.

In order to go through this as best as possible, it is advisable to always keep the banana tree cooler. A cozy and warm living room or locations near radiators or chimneys are not suitable for hibernation. Cool hallways or bedrooms are a better location for hibernating a banana plant.

If the banana trees are not allowed to hibernate optimally by keeping them too warm, growth will be less vigorous in the following spring and brown leaves will also damage the appearance.


Despite the numerous types of banana trees, the original origin of the banana plant plays an important role in wintering. Here there is a grouping into three areas, which provide information about the winter temperatures:

  • temperate climates – mostly hardy
  • subtropical climes – not hardy, but need cool temperatures
  • tropical areas – absolutely not hardy, need warmer temperatures

Hibernate tropical banana trees

The banana plant, which comes from the tropics, is one of the most common perennials in Central Europe. They are mainly used as houseplant, although they thrive particularly well in the garden in the summer months. However, it is very sensitive to cold, so it should ideally be warmed up in a room / building in time for colder temperatures to drop.

  • Transplant planted banana plants into a tub
  • Optimal room temperature between 16 and 18 degrees Celsius during hibernation
  • Bring them in from the field no later than mid-September
  • Lighting conditions: bright – no direct sunlight
  • If necessary, install a plant light
  • Suitable location for wintering: hallways, cool bedrooms
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Wintering of subtropical species

Banana plants from subtropical regions are known in Europe as the ornamental banana tree – botanical name: Ensete ventricosum. This has red colored central leaf ribs. In the winter season it can withstand more cold than tropical banana plants.

In the outdoor area, subtropical banana trees can accordingly remain longer until autumn. As soon as the outside temperature drops well below 10 degrees Celsius, the tree should be brought into the house to overwinter.

  • Transplant planted banana plants into a tub
  • Optimal room temperature between 10 degrees Celsius and 15 degrees Celsius during the break
  • Get in the open air at the latest when the outside temperature is 5 degrees Celsius
  • Lighting conditions: the cooler, the darker
  • Suitable location: basement or garage
  • Leave in the warm until mid-May

Is the banana tree hardy?

The classic among the winter-hardy banana trees is the Musa basjoo. Like many other species, it comes from the warmer, temperate regions of Japan and is also known as the fiber banana tree.

These perennials are not really hardy. They just show themselves to be more frost-resistant than tropical or subtropical banana species. For example, they can be placed outside or planted in the bed, as long as the winter does not have too long periods of frost. It is advisable to place “hardy” banana trees behind a privacy screen element in order to offer them optimal winter protection from cold winds, as can be found here .

  • Optimal ambient temperature between 3 2 degrees Celsius and 5 degrees Celsius during hibernation
  • Start winter protection at an outside temperature of 5 degrees Celsius at the latest
  • Light conditions in the garden: dark to partially shaded
  • Suitable location: outdoors or in a garden shed
  • Always place protected behind a privacy screen or similar in the garden
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Hardy species

In addition to the Musa bajoo, numerous other banana trees are available in Europe that are just as hardy.The best-known varieties are:

  • Goldener Lotus – Musella lasiocarpa
  • Wild forest bananas – Musa yunnanensis
  • Silver banana tree – Musa balbisiana
  • Darjeeling Banane – Musa sikkimensis
  • Blue Burmese Banana Tree – Musa itinerans
  • Cheesman Bananen – Musa cheesmanii

Winter protection

Despite their “winter hardiness”, banana trees are very sensitive to wind, especially when it is cold. It is all the more important to equip planted specimens with separate cold and wind protection. If you cannot provide privacy screens at the location, there are other options to choose from, which are also useful in addition to windbreak walls.

A simple method is to wrap it with a burlap sack. Starting from the bottom, this should run evenly upwards and enclose the entire tree. It is important to ensure that the leaves are still facing up when being wrapped so that they do not bend. This could provoke open tree spots, which then remain undiscovered and pose a risk of disease.

Another option is a discarded rain barrel. Here the bottom is simply cut off and the barrel placed over the tree. It is important to ensure that the trunk does not protrude over the edge of the barrel. It may be necessary to cut back. The soil in the root area should be covered with pine needles, cracks or leaves at the latest when the temperatures drop below 5 degrees Celsius.

To cut

In principle, you do not have to prune the leaves of banana trees before the vegetation break. However, they sometimes grow very quickly upwards and / or in width, so pruning makes sense.

Depending on the weather conditions, the end of August for tropical and subtropical and mid-September is the optimal time for pruning. This gives them enough time until the winter dormancy begins to collect the nutrients they need for the break, as pruning first of all illuminates the plant until it appears again in full splendor.

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The leaves are cut with a sharp knife about five centimeters from the trunk. The height at which the trunk should be cut depends on the height of the winter protection or the space available for wintering. Theoretically, the trunk can be cut off almost completely, so that a maximum of 10 to 15 centimeters protrudes from the soil or the substrate. However, it should be noted that a cut trunk often forms new offshoots in spring, which allow the banana plant to expand again over the summer.

Since the banana plant “bleeds” after it has been cut back, it is particularly sensitive to pathogens on wet days. The interfaces should therefore be covered with carbon powder. In addition, the pruning should be done on a dry day so that the humidity does not keep the wounds open unnecessarily.

Water and fertilize in winter

As soon as banana trees are brought to their winter storage, the water requirement is reduced immensely, especially during the vegetation break from November to around February. You can orientate yourself on the soil or the substrate, which consistency it has. The optimal time of watering is given when the soil / substrate is already slightly settling on the edge of the bucket. Then the moment is given when the dryness becomes visible on the outside and slowly penetrates to the root area and the inside of the tub. Since banana trees must never dry out completely, now is the right time to water the plant a little.

By the way: the darker and colder the plant is, the less water has to be poured.

With hardy banana trees in the garden bed, there is no need to water in winter. The mostly high humidity ensures a balanced humidity ratio between soil and roots.

Advice for keeping a banana plant in a container:

  • Always use lime-free water
  • Avoidance of waterlogging
  • Always pour from above
  • Never set up a bucket to drain the water without a saucer
  • Fertilize monthly with conventional fertilizer for perennials or green plants

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