Over-wintering Bananas, Hibiscus and Bougainvilleas

I get a ton of questions each fall related to keeping these three plants through the winter. Here are my suggestions.

• Bananas. If you have a banana plant, and if you’re wanting it to survive the winter, your best bet would be to let it freeze to the ground with the first cold spell, then clip off the dried stubble a few days later. Cover the crown of theplant with tree leaves, and hold the leaves in place with a piece of chicken wire. They’ll survive all but the coldest of winters.

• Tropical hibiscus. These will not tolerate temperatures below 32F. Unless you’re in the Rio Grande Valley or along the immediate Texas Gulf Coast, you’ll either need to bring them into the house or into a greenhouse. They need full or nearly full sunlight and 70F temperatures.

• Bougainvilleas. These suffer “chilling injury” at temperatures below 50F. They will be killed by temperatures below 32F. Unless you’re in a frost-free part of Texas (or have a really unusual micro-climate within your landscape), you need to bring them indoors or be prepared to lose them with the first freeze. They’ll need full, or nearly full sun over the winter.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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