Tropical plants such as cannas, elephant ears, and caladium have underground structures called tubers, which can be dug up and successfully over wintered, then replanted in the spring.
Palms, Mandeville and hibiscus can be brought indoors to a sunny location or put into a greenhouse.
With Bananas, depending on your climate, you have some different options.
I will share with you here how I over winter my tropical plants.
Supplies & Tools Needed:
Clippers or knife
Straw or pine shavings
Clay or plastic pots
Tubers- Cannas, Elephant Ears, Caladiums Etc:
Step 1: Let Plants Go Dormant
The best time to dig up your cannas, elephant ears or caladium is right after the first light frost, this is when the leaves have turned a little brown and it puts the plant into dormancy.
Step 2: Digging up the Tubers
Dig up the tubers. Here I am digging up my cannas. (Note: This is also a good time to separate or break up your tubers in order to have additional plants next season)
Step 3: Allowing The Tubers To Dry Out
Step 4: Storing The Tubers
Once the tubers have thoroughly dried out, place them in well-vented containers or baskets lined with pine shavings, or straw. Bread and milk crates work well. When storing the tubers, put them in a cool dark place that is about 50-60 degrees.
Basements and cellars are great places to store these over the winter.
Check the tubers monthly to see if any have rotted or are shriveling up. Throw away any rotting ones and use a sprayer/mister water bottle to lightly mist those that are shriveled.
Step 1: Relocate Palms, Mandeville and Hibiscus
If you have a sunroom, or a greenhouse this is the best place to put these plants for the winter. If you don’t have either of these then the next best place is in front of or around windows.
Palms do not require as much light as Mandeville and hibiscus so they can be around windows.
Mandeville and Hibiscus require much more light, so they need to be placed directly in front of windows or glass doors that get a lot of sun. I place my larger Mandeville, trellis and all in front of my glass door.
I have discovered over the last few years that even though my windows face the bright-west sun, it still isn’t enough bright light for the Mandeville, or Hibiscus, they require at least 12 hours of bright light. Now when I bring the plants in I change out my regular light bulbs in my can-lighting fixtures, located right above the plants for grow-light bulbs.
Maintaining palms, Mandeville and hibiscus while indoors:
Water these plants regularly but keep on the dry side. These plants like humidity so mist them often, or put a pan of water between them.
Another way to provide the humidity these plants require is to run a humidifier.
Overwintering Banana Plants
Here you have two options depending on your climate. In East Tennessee where the winters normally do not get too cold, bananas can be left outdoors. In more colder climates, it is best to dig up your banana and store it inside:
Option A: Leaving Banana Plant/Tree Outside In The Garden
Step 1: Allow the Banana Plant/Tree To Go Dormant
Leave the banana in the ground until just after the first light frost.
This will allow the plant to go into dormancy.
Step 2: Cut Back The Banana
Cut the plant down leaving about 10-12 inches of stalk.
Step 3: Mulch and Cover
Once you have cut back the banana plant, cover it with at least a
12-inch layer of mulch.
Option B: Bringing Banana plant indoors
Just before the first frost bring your banana plant/tree indoors or put in a green house.
Step 1: Digging Up The Banana Plant/Tree
Using a shovel to dig up the banana being careful not to damage the roots.
Step 2: Replanting the Banana Plant/Tree
Place the banana into a pot and cover the roots with potting soil.
At this point you have two choices you can choose to grow your banana as a houseplant during the winter if it is not too big and you have the space, or you can let it go into dormancy.
Step 4: Preparing The Banana For Dormancy
If you choose dormancy, don’t bring your banana in until just after the first LIGHT frost. This will put the plant into dormancy.
Step 5: Cutting Back The Leaves
After the leaves have turned a bit brown from the light frost, cut them back to the trunk.
Place the banana in a dark, cool (40 – 45 degrees) place such as a basement or cellar for the winter. Go ahead and let the banana stay on the dry side..
About The Author:
Debbie Russell works as a special event coordinator for a parks and recreation department in Tennessee, but also utilizes her life long experience in gardening and landscaping creating beautiful beds and gardens for the parks. When not a work, she is at home landscaping and gardening her seven acres. She raises chickens, and enjoys crafting and quilting.