How To Save Money and Over Winter Tropical Plants Like Canna, Colocasia ‘Elephant Ear’, and Banana

Garden — By on October 19, 2012 8:37 am

Tropical plants such as banana, canna, and elephant ear in Shawna Coronado's front lawn.

This year was a fantastic year for me; I grew my first tropical plants. Of course, the inspiration for the tropical-vegetable planting combination came from my crazy dream about a bethonged Alton Brown, so it was bound to be a success, right? Now it is the end of the season and I can let these plants die in my garden over my 5b winter, or I can do my best to rescue them from their arctic fate. My choice is to save lots of money and rescue the babies for next season. It’s the Indiana Jones in me – must save the world and all its plants dontcha know.

This season I grew an interesting selection of tropical cannas and elephant ear (colocasia) from Plants Nouveau.  In the photos for this garden bed above you see Canna Peach Sparkler , Canna Blueberry Sparkler , and Colocasia Red-Eyed Gecko. My banana plant, Musa Basjoo, is from Brian’s Botanicals.

Canna and colocasia plants dug up and laying in a row.

How To Over Winter Cannas and Elephant Ears

  • TCanna root system.o save a tropical for next season you must wait until the first frost,
  • then dig it up,
  • cut off the tops of the plant, saving the root system,
  • remove the extra soil,
  • store in well-ventilated containers (milk cartons or open boxes), adding moss or saw dust to help insulate and hold moisture prevents them from drying out,
  • store it in a dark, cool place – approximately 50 degrees – over the winter.

Colocasia root system

How To Over Winter A Cold Hearty Banana Plant

  • Cut the plant down at the base,Banana plant, musa basjoo, cut for the season.
  • Cover with a thick layer of mulch – several feet deep if possible,
  • Cover the mulch with a thick layer of black plastic which will act as a “heating unit” in the spring sunshine,
  • Pray and hope it makes it.

Digging up the cannas and elephant ears was rather amazing. Tons of worms were tight in their root systems, which makes me think that the root and soil marriage was filled with good microbes.

When I went to cut down the smaller banana plant I was very surprised to see green-beans-of-happiness growing on its stalk – self-seeded from a previous year. And yes – lunch was green bean salad with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. A perfect end to an interesting season.

Green beans on a banana plant stalk.

Box for storing tropical plants.

Special Note – Because the FTC requires it, I am telling you that Plants Nouveau, Brian’s Botanicals,  Jobes Organic FertilizerBonnie Plants, Organic Mechanics Soil, Midwest Trading, and Natural Industries supplied the plants, mulch, soil, and soil additives I used in this tropical plant garden. I have used their products because I WOULD even if they had not given the products to me.  All my crazy  opinions are my very own!

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  1. La McCoy says:

    Information packed. Thank you. lmc

  2. Deanna says:

    Thank you I have an overabundance of Canna and never thought about this….. Maybe, I should try growing them in the greenhouse…. :) Thanks and good to visit your pages again….

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