How do you separate a pup?

September 23, 2007

Can pups just be pulled away from the big plant?

I recently bought a Hardy Banana plant from Lowes (Musa 'basjoo')

and it has a pup growing with it. The label says -20 F so I'm going with it. I was real skeptical of 3 Crape Myrtles and a Red-Tipped Photinia that I bought from them in late 06', (I had the receipts at the ready), but they all made it thru the Winter and have bloomed nicely this Summer, with serious die-back. The Red-Tipped Photinia didn't die-back at all.

So anyway, I am giving Lowes stuff a chance I suppose. I am going to try to over-winter it outside in the ground (with mulch of course).

If it grows next year I sure would like to get the pups off of it.

Are pups part of the root system of the big plant?

If anybody is wondering, no I don't expect bananas in Kansas City, I'm a leaf man.


Comments (15)

  • unautre

    The usual advice is to wait til the pups are at least a 1 ft tall. The taller, the better chance of survival.

    Cut with a sharp knife, like a serrated vegetable knife. Cut tangentially to the arc of the main stalk.

    Maybe pore little Neem solution over a week or so down the main stalk to retard fungus while it heals.

    I just cut 5 pups from a neighbor's ancient clump. All were over 2 ft high, one 8 feet high. One didn't make it, and it wasn't the smallest. The other 4 were putting out new leaves a week after transplanting.

    I have a potted Musa blood banana that I will remove the pups from soon and try to keep the going till next March.

  • bananasdotorg

    Check out this thread for some good detailed instructions, and on page 3 you can see some videos of it as well:

    Here is a link that might be useful: Time to separate the pups for the Spring

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  • shortleaf2002

    Thanks for the advice all.
    I'm determined to have banana pups!

  • Dave in NoVA • N. Virginia • zone 7A

    If your basjoo does well next season, it should begin to pup late in the summer. You probably don't want to remove pups though until the following season. Pups are easiest to transplant in the Spring/early summer, in my experience. Success increases when they are older, say 2 feet high, and are starting to develop their own corm or root from their own rhizomes. I scrape away the soil from a pup to get an idea of its root/rhizome structure BEFORE I cut with a spade. Cut as close to the mother corm as you can, in fact, you can actually take a small chunk from the mother corm. I did this drawing a while back. You can see that if one had cut straight down next to the pup, you would not get any rhizome capable of generating roots and all you would have would be stalk, which would die.


  • shortleaf2002

    Thanks for the drawing. It is much clearer now.
    I was curious about the angle of the shovel in the pics at bananasorg. Those pics at bananasorg are better understood now. I was thinking "how does that work? won't it kill the mother plant"?
    I certainly want to be successful in the separating.
    Here is the plant that I planted in that spot yesterday, its 30 inches (enuff room for a lawnmower) from the house. That 2 by 4 sticking out is just temporary, I used it to be sure I was straight out from the corner of the house.
    I only bought one because I want to get a pup for the other corner, rather than buy two plants. I'll wait to get a pup if its best, and if the big plant survives. After-all, it might not survive the Winter. I plan on wrapping the pseudo-stem with insulation (maybe Pink Panther) and duct tape.

  • bearstate

    Let me put in a Thank You too.

    My Super Dwarf only just started putting out new pups and I had recently bought a 'Blue Java' Ice Cream Banana that had pups when I got it from Home Depot. I cut one away and was shocked that unlike Canna, the Banana pup did not have its own rhizomes or roots and was growing right out of the parent corm. I have been puzzling whether the Super Dwarf pups, which are further distant from the parent somehow did not have their own corms or rhizomes either and your drawings have cleared up that mystery.

    I just got a 'blood' banana and it has two big pups next to the original parent and they, like the Super Dwarf pups are distant from the parent.

    So the trick is to always get a bit of the parent corm?


  • Dave in NoVA • N. Virginia • zone 7A

    I always scrape away the soil to try to get an understanding of the underground structure of the pup first. Some pups bud right off the edge of the mother corm. With those you HAVE to take some of the mother corm, especially when the pup is smaller. IF the mother is a large banana, there's no way you'll hurt her doing this.

    Some pups arise further away from the mother corm on a longer rhizome. These will likely have more roots coming from them and are generally easier to dig and transplant. If they are larger and well-rooted you would not have to get part of the mother corm.

    Another way to propagate bananas is to take an older corm from a mother plant that has already bloomed and slice it up into pie segements, each with at least one growing bud.


    In your zone, you'll want to heavily mulch that banana for winter and I would cover it over with bubble wrap or something to keep the rain/snow off of it as well, then maybe another layer of mulch. In April you can uncover and check to see if it's growing. If it is, cut away any rotted growth to expose the bleached growing tips. If hard frost threatens, cover with a frost cloth on those nights. I wouldn't even think of removing any pups until this plant is well established. Maybe two seasons. If you want a banana in another location and you are impatient, buy another plant.

  • bearstate

    I followed Dave In Nova's advice, except for waiting till Spring. I've been overwintering indoors and the Banana have been growing like crazy. I was afraid my Zebrinas would shut off light to their pups, so I separated them ...


    The three Zebrinas you see here in separate pots were once in one pot. They are big enough to have their own corms.

    I will take them back indoors once the excess water in the pots drains out.

    I think it was a successful operation.

  • mona_r I sent a massage yesterday, & I don't know if I did it right. My Banana drawf frose with the last freez, it's not growing any leaves, but has 4 pups, does that mean the tree is still alive??? or do I take the pups
    & transplant them? Thanks

  • shortleaf2002

    Thanks all. I had forgot to get back but my banana died from something besides overwintering it. I did a google search for some help again on getting some instrux on separating pups and this old thread came up, I couldn't believe it was an old one of mine even.
    I'm determined to try it again tho! The dream is still alive! lol I'm pretty sure if I do everything right its very possible here.
    Hi mona, if your still out there, were your pups still alive?

  • rubtherock

    I've been experimenting with separating pups for quite sometime. Adding miracle grow to the newly separated pup tremendously increases it's recovery time. Also I've found that using severing then using miracle grow and leaving in the ground for a couple days helps also.

  • guy15case_yahoo_com

    Hi, I bought a musa basjoo also from a local nursery (Brothers) and I was wondering, I went to go separate it like it said to do but I didn't get any roots with it, all I got was what looks like is I cut the whole stem off with it, will it still grow or is it garbage? I'm just curious because I don't want to kill them.~Daniel

  • guy15case_yahoo_com

    Hi, I bought a musa basjoo also from a local nursery (Brothers) and I was wondering, I went to go separate it like it said to do but I didn't get any roots with it, all I got was what looks like is I cut the whole stem off with it, will it still grow or is it garbage? I'm just curious because I don't want to kill them.~Daniel

  • guy15case_yahoo_com

    Hi, I bought a musa basjoo also from a local nursery (Brothers) and I was wondering, I went to go separate it like it said to do but I didn't get any roots with it, all I got was what looks like is I cut the whole stem off with it, will it still grow or is it garbage? I'm just curious because I don't want to kill them.~Daniel

  • Isabel Clarke

    I have a musa Basjo that I have had some years it is close to the house in a sheltered spot and I do cut back to 5 feet and cove the base in winter (Essex UK) although I am assored I do not need to. I couldn't bare (or bear) to lose it!

    It grew pups for the first time last year and I cut 2 off in autumn and potted up in well drained soil. I and my daughter kept them in the bathroom , the consistently warm place in our house, gave them a drop of water every now and then....they are both growing...slowly...but growing.

    Having read the instructions I shall now try this summer.Isabel

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