Q: This last bout of cold weather has caused my banana leaves to turn brown. Will my plant die?
A: Banana is best grown in cold hardiness zones 9b – 11 but it can produce fruit in USDA hardiness zones 8b and 9 when winter temperatures stay above freezing. We had a few days this winter that were well below the freezing mark, which is why you are seeing damage on the leaves. Don’t be too eager to cut back all the foliage yet, wait until we little have chance of more freezing temperatures. Plants killed to the ground which sprout from the soil in the spring will not produce fruit until the following year. Banana trees grow best on fertile, moist soil, so you may have to add some organic matter to our sandy soils. They respond well to regular fertilization. If the trees are in the landscape area around lawngrass then they probably receive sufficient irrigation. Bananas will thrive in full sun or partial shade but in our area they should be protected from both wind and cold. Too many suckers should not be allowed to develop since this will decrease the ability of any one plant to produce a good bunch of fruit. By allowing suckers to develop only at periodic intervals, a succession of fruiting can be obtained. Banana bunches should be harvested when the fruit is still green and allowed to ripen in a cool, dark place. The easily-grown Banana tree is ideal for planters near the pool, located around garden ponds, or clustered together for an exotic effect. The flowers are reddish-purple, which is always a surprise when compared to the soft yellow color of the mature fruit.