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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Monday - March 15, 2010

From: Rocklin, CA
Region: California
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Non-native banana plants dying back in Rocklin CA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I bought a home last July in Rocklin, CA that had several banana plants growing in the yard. They died back during the winter frost. We pruned them back to the ground and placed mulch over the top. Should they be starting to sprout up by now if they weren't killed. Just wondering if I should wait a little longer to dig up and replace with more of the same or something else.

ANSWER:

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the use, care and propagation of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which it is being grown. The plant most often referred to in the nursery trade as a "hardy banana" is Musa basjoo, which originates in China and Japan. It is a tropical herbaceous plant, more often grown as an indoor house plant, but it can be grown outside in warmer USDA Zones. At the East Central California area of Rocklin, you appear to be in Zone 6, and a severe freeze for that zone would probably be dangerous for this plant. Since it is non-native and out of our purview, we will refer you to this University of Illinois Extension article Hardy Banana - Musa Banjoo.

In answer to your question should you dig it up and replace it with the same thing or something else, we would, of course, prefer you dig it up and replace it with something native to your area of California. Since we don't know exactly what area you are in, what moisture and sun conditions you have for the plant, etc. you might drop us another note on the conditions and your preferences and we will see what we can find from our Native Plant Database. And there are no native banana plants.

 

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