James Waddick
Wed, 11 Feb 2009 06:12:37 PST
Dear Christine,
	I hesitate to answer here.

	As you are in a cooler climate (Philadelphia area) your 
ability to grow bananas as a reliable addition to your pantry is a 
task of frustration and starvation. As easy as bananas can be in warm 
tropics, obtaining fruit in colder climate is generally a rarity 
worthy of local interest newspaper coverage.

	As an ornamental container plant, there are many excellent 
choices and they are fairly easy.  It sounds like you have tried and 
failed. I consider this a bad sign  as undemanding as they are. All 
species can be grown in large pots for years with success. They need 
copious water in the growing season, full (or nearly full with few 
exceptions) and a vigorous fertilization program.

	Let me make a couple of suggestions:

	1 For an array of taste banana treats go to any large 
oriental market of all persuasions (Chinese, Thai etc) and try all 
available, although usually few, you may be able to find finger 
bananas, red skinned bananas, 'burros' etc. Allow them to ripen 
fully. I know there are some on the Philidelphia  metro area

	2. Give up any attempt to grow bananas for fruit.

	3. Try again with an ornamental plant using the guidelines 
suggest above. Among the easiest are the Dwarf Cavendish,  Sumatrana 
or Zebra (although there are various sorts here) and the increasingly 
available Japanese Fiber Banana or Hardy Banana, Musa basjoo. The 
latter can be grown outdoors there and with minimal winter care reach 
ample size and provide a fantastic tropical air to even an small 
urban garden.  Buy a potted plant and move it to a large pot after 
the last frost.

	4 With some humility read a basic book such as 'Bananas You 
Can Grow' -described as "the best book ever written on bananas" when 
it was published. This is by the noted world authorities Waddick and 
Stokes (ahem).

	Good luck.		Jim W.
Dr. James W. Waddick
8871 NW Brostrom Rd.
Kansas City Missouri 64152-2711
Ph.    816-746-1949
Zone 5 Record low -23F
	Summer 100F +

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