Bananas you can grow

John Grimshaw
Tue, 29 Nov 2011 09:33:30 PST
Jim Waddick asked: "So Shirley and John, have you any banana experiences to 

Not much of interest: Musa basjoo has not survived here in the Cotswolds, 
but is fine at my parents' home at Maidenhead in the Thames Valley, and they 
have neighbours with two big clumps that regularly produce inflorescences. 
Musella is not hardy in the UK without excessive wrapping etc.

Apropos of Musa being a geophyte, which would normally be expected to have 
an underground dormant phase, I would say that this pushes the boundaries of 
the definition a bit, as in natural situations they are effectively 
evergreen and ever-growing. Obviously some of the harder ones can survive 
being defoliated by frost, but does this qualify them as geophytes? When I 
was last in Tanzania (2009) my area was very hard-hit by a long drought and 
established banana clumps were reduced to bare 'poles' with perhaps a few 
tatty greenish leaves from the centre. I've no doubt that the clumps 
survived, however, and are probably bearing now, so in climatic emergencies 
the geophytic back-up plan works, but it's not the normal form of growth for 

John Grimshaw

Visit John Grimshaw's Garden Diary

Dr. John M. Grimshaw
Sycamore Cottage
GL53 9NP

Tel. 01242 870567

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "James Waddick" <>
To: "Pacific Bulb Society" <>
Sent: Tuesday, November 29, 2011 3:13 PM
Subject: Re: [pbs] Bananas you can grow

> >I am trying to buy a copy of "Bananas you can grow" by James Waddick
>>and Glenn Stokes. I think James is a member of PBS.
> Dear Shirley,
> Finally a topic I can speak on with some expertise.
> Please send me a private email to and I
> can help you locate a cheaper copy.
> When the book was published one reviewer (from the
> Smithonian, no less) said it was "the best book available on growing
> bananas.". Although humbled by his comments, this is a very small
> competition and at the time was the ONLY book on the topic. True,
> but....
> Bananas, by the way, are quite suited to this forum as large
> geophytes. My M. basjoo has been through a number of hard freezes and
> the grove is in the process of dying down and going dormant for
> winter. I have had a growing expanding grove here in the ground for a
> decade and more. I'll soon add a thick layer of leaf mulch to protect
> the underground rhizomes from temps down to -12  F (last year's low).
> Once warm weather returns I can get 20 feet of spectacular tropical
> growth in the summer season. It gives me warm thoughts just
> contemplating it as the snow prospects are building by the day.
> So while we are at it, does any one grow 'Musa 'Mekong Giant'
> in a cold climate with success.
> So Shirley and John, have any banana experiences to share?
> Best 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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