Growing bananas in north FL, 30 degrees N latitude

i’m zone pushing bananas here in the Florida panhandle. i planted several in the ground last year in the late summer, protected them all winter. this was relatively easy since they were small, only a few feet tall and they had no dieback at all, leaves stayed green. since the end of March they have really taken off and are growing well, putting out a new leaf every 2-3 days, but now they almost all have pups (anywhere from 1 to 6 pups) and they are slowing down, so i was thinking of removing the pups and either re-locating them or potting them. the varieties i planted last year are 2 dwarf namwahs, 2 veinte cohols and 1 dwarf Puerto Rican plantain. this spring i planted 2 kokopos and another dwarf Puerto Rican plantain. sucks that they are all tissue culture banana plants. i know the veinte cohols and kokopos are short cycle so i am hoping i can push them to flower before the winter. i haven’t kept track of how many leaves they have put out so i really don’t know how close they are to flowering, but i have been pushing them since March with fertilizer every week. so even though people recommend keeping one or two pups with the mama plant, i think i will remove the largest pups (almost all the pups are swords) to get them pushing leaves out faster since i am in the coldest part of Florida.

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This guy is in North Carolina having success with some banana. He gives some variety ideas that would probably work way better for you than him.
He has several video on growing them with really good advice.

I had similar troubles and this year I’ve removed any with a maximum of 4 per plant. Likely 3 would be better but I don’t want more potted bananas until I can sell or give these away

yeah i’ve seen his videos, i don’t know how he does it that far north without a greenhouse for half the year, because even if it doesn’t get very cold in his area, i doubt there’s enough sun/heat and North Carolina, South Carolina & Georgia are not subtropical at all, only southeast Florida and the FL Keys are subtropical. north and central Florida would be considered semi-tropical.

i’m probably going to remove every pup. have you gotten your bananas to fruit? i recall you said you lived in South Carolina. i know someone same latitude as me and gets fruit but he keeps his banana plants in a high tunnel heated greenhouse from November to April.

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NC no they haven’t fruited, I protected them the first year and when they didn’t grow much the following year I lost my motivation for fruiting them. So I moved them this winter and now I will renew my plan to successfully fruit my Orinoco, Blue Java, Kokopo and Cavendish. Or at least two of them.

The problem was I planted them out in the open so it was just too tough to protect them, now I have them along the fenceline. Much more plausible to get fruit now, also I have them on daily water now opposed to 2x a week before. Lots of fertilizer and chicken manure

Does tissue culture on bananas cause problems?

they’re supposed to be disease free and “cleaner” but i think field dug pups grow more vigorously and seem healthier, at least in my experience, though i have yet to grow fruit.

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yeah cold protection is the hardest part, especially when you have a lot of banana plants, i wrap them up whenever i anticipated temps below 40F in the winter

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also, i noticed that some of the subtropical fruits that get diseases in south florida are not as prone to those diseases in north florida, it’s the cold that normally kills subtropicals in north florida. this article says that tissue cultures grow slowly and take a long time to fruit. Not all bananas are created equal〡Third Insight Design and Nursery & nursery

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I used hay bales to wrap them with and it didn’t work as well as anticipated, I think I should have also put a tarp because it just stayed soaked and caused it to rot.

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i wrapped the bananas in burlap, then moving blankets, then frost cloth bags and then put pvc tents over each one. but i had to remove the wrappings and opened up the tent windows during the daytime or else they would have cooked. it was a pain to wrap at night and uncover in the morning, had to do this a few times each week in the winter.

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I went to a presentation at UGA about growing bananas. They were short cycle, veinte cohol, I believe. So if GA can do it, North Fl should definitely be better…

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Yeah the millennial gardner on YT is in NC and he has a lot of bananas but the only one that fruits annually for him is the Orinoco. So any dwarf will be short cycle but some shorter than others. In marginal zones the only chances are with dwarfs, unless you’re offering significant protection and you’re doing a lot more protection than I’m willing to for bananas at least.

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Here’s the article. I’ve actually been out to see the fields, and those plants weren’t small at all!

Greg Fonsah Bananas


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Orinoco bananas have no flavor, i tried them very ripe both raw and cooked. red bananas are very good but i don’t think they can grow here.

yes, i have the short cycle dwarf varieties - veinte cohol and kokopo/patupi

here’s two progress pics so far of a dwarf namwah. the first pic is April 2nd, about 2.5 feet tall, the second pic is today June 12th, about 6.5 feet tall.