The Japanese banana tree ( Musa basjoo ) is a typical tree of the tropics and subtropics. However, it is possible to adapt it to the conditions of your garden, even in cold weather.
In addition, although it may seem the opposite, it is a crop that does not require much experience in gardening and yet it is very decorative as an ornamental.
ORIGINS OF THE JAPANESE BANANA TREE MUSA BASJOO
The Japanese planter or Musa basjoo can reach 6 meters in height in the best conditions. There are many varieties of banana trees that gradually adapt to conditions outside of tropical or subtropical climates.
This genus belongs to the Musaceae (monocotyledonous) family. Notice that we have added the Musa basjoo inside garden trees, which however if we are blunt it would not be like that, since this family is comprised of «large herbs».
However, due to its size, we include it in the tree section, for better identification.
It produces fruits (small and green), which to our regret are not edible. Most gardeners grow Musa basjoo for the exotic, tropical appearance it provides to your garden.
HOW DO I ADAPT MY MUSA BASJOO TO MY CLIMATE?
Although it may seem that the Japanese banana tree needs high temperatures to function, it is able to withstand cold winters without problems. Very strong frosts damage the leaves and sensitive parts, but they regenerate in spring.
On the other hand, the trunk resists temperatures below 10º C below zero. It is usually grown in full sun but protected from the wind, since the latter dries the leaves and makes them lose their ornamental beauty.
At first, when it is still small, the Musa basjoo appreciates medium shade conditions, where there are more options for humidity in the environment.
Don’t worry about the fact that you can’t grow it in your area because you think it might be too cold, think that the Japanese banana tree has grown in areas like New England and Ontario, in Canada.
Even so, if you anticipate a severe frost , proceed as follows:
- Punch the ground. You have to protect the roots.
- Remove dead or damaged leaves.
- Wrap the young stems with plastic wrap.
As for the soil , it is important that if nature is poor you have to add organic matter. ( homemade compost or manure).
In addition, it must have good drainage and avoid water accumulation, since as we will see below, the way to water Musa basjoo conditions the development of the crop.
MUSA BASJOO IRRIGATION CONDITIONS
Irrigation control is an important technique in the cultivation of the Musa basjoo or Japanese banana tree. It is important to maintain the humidity conditions to which you were originally accustomed at all times. Of course, it is not worth overdoing the irrigation and flooding the area.
It is usually watered 2 or 3 times a week to conserve the humidity of the soil. In summer you have to be attentive to some growing conditions, for example, if you have it planted in the garden in full sun, it may require more frequent watering, at the same dose.
If it is in the shade (because it is still small, because if not to see who is shading it with 5 or 6 meters high) the humidity will be preserved longer and it will not be necessary to water as much. Do not take irrigation in a technical way, do it when the soil (and not the plant, it is not necessary to reach the water stress of the Japanese banana tree) asks for it.
THE MUSA BASJOO SUBSCRIBER AND HIS REQUIREMENTS
In this case, the fertilizer of the Japanese banana tree is important. You have to complete your NPK needs (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium).
Nitrogen is important for your growth, and you will need potassium and phosphorous for flowering and fruit production. It must be paid regularly with the available organic matter that provides the bases for these three mineral components.
On some occasions, in fall or winter, the leaves may turn yellowish. It is a normal fact in Musa basjoo that can be solved by fertilizing with microelements to save small chlorosis (iron, magnesium, etc.)
SOME DISORDERS OF THE JAPANESE BANANA TREE
The Japanese banana tree is not a plant that suffers from too many problems. It can be affected by some insects such as borers, mealybugs, aphids, etc., as well as nematodes that attack its roots. In terms of diseases, it is susceptible to anthracnose (a typical fungus in hot and humid areas) and to the mosaic virus .
The small inedible fruits that we have discussed above are a good source of propagation, but not the best.
Small suckers usually appear around this banana tree , attached to the trunk that are a perfect form of propagation. We will transplant these suckers to new indoor growing conditions, and when they are sufficiently grown, we will transfer them back to the definitive ground.
Of course, if they are very small, you have to be careful with frost.