ENSETE MAURELII. Red Abyssinian Banana

Ensete Maurelii. These plants are exceptional quality.
The Ensete Maurelii brings an amazing tropical feeling to your garden. Also known as the Red Abyssinian Banana it has huge exotic sail-like foliage. Most of the leaf surface has a red flush to them and the undersides are a rich dark crimson in colour giving instant impact and a sense of the jungle.
This variety is an spectacular specimen plant for an exotic style garden.
Very fast and easy to grow, just water and feed generously during the growing season. Did up and store dry in winter.
Best kept sheltered from strong winds to avoid the leaves shredding.
These plants are exceptional quality. Photos 1-5 show some of the Ensete plants in stock now. Photo 3-4 is of the double stem ensete.

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Growing Ornamental Bananas – How To Grow A Red Banana Plant

There are many types of banana available to the home gardener, many of which produce copious amounts of fruit. But did you know there are also various types of the ornamental red banana plant too, specifically grown for their attractive red foliage color? Read on to learn more about these interesting plants.

What is a Red Banana Tree?

Ornamental red banana trees can belong to either the Ensete or Musa genera.

Ensete, also known as enset, is an important food crop in Ethiopia and an ornamental plant enjoyed in landscapes around the world. Though the bananas they produce are not edible, Ensete plants do produce food in the form of a starchy corm (underground storage organ) and a starchy stem base. Enset farmers in Ethiopia dig up the corms and lower stems of mature trees and process them into bread or porridge.

Like the more familiar banana plants in the Musa genus, this red- and green-leaved banana species is the size of a tree but is actually a giant herbaceous plant. Its trunk is a non-woody “pseudostem” made of leaf stalks (petioles) that grow tightly bundled together. In Ethiopia, fibers harvested from the pseudostem are traditionally used for making mats and ropes.

Ensete ventricosum is one of several ornamental banana plants available to gardeners in zones 9 to 11. A favored variety with strong red coloration is “Maurelii,” which grows 12 to 15 feet (3.5 to 4.5 meters) tall and 8 to 10 feet (2.5 to 3 meters) wide. This ornamental red banana plant makes a lovely centerpiece for a tropical garden or courtyard. You may also find this ornamental plant labeled as Red Abyssinian banana (Ensete maurelii), which has the same striking foliage flushed with burgundy-red.

Other red-leaved ornamental bananas include Musa acuminata “Zebrina,” “Rojo” and “Siam Ruby.” These may be better choices for very humid locations such as many parts of Florida.

Growing ornamental bananas in large pots is also possible. In cooler climates, pots can be brought outdoors in summer and indoors in winter, but be sure you have enough space for the plant before beginning this endeavor.

How to Grow a Red Banana

Ensete grows best in a relatively dry climate similar to its native habitat in the East African highlands. It cannot tolerate frost and dislikes high humidity. However, some gardeners have successfully grown it even in humid areas.

Enset trees also grow more slowly than Musa banana trees and have lifespans ranging from 3 to 10 or more years. With patience, you may be able to see your tree flower. Each plant flowers only once, at full maturity, and then dies.

Red banana plant care involves proper site selection, watering, and fertilization. These trees require rich soil with plenty of organic matter and partial or full sun. Be sure the soil at the planting site is well drained.

Water the plant weekly, more often during the hottest part of summer. This is especially important in the first season after planting. Well-established plants can survive drought, but they won’t look their best without adequate water. Fertilize in the early spring with compost or a balanced fertilizer.

Huge and banana-like, ensete maurellii is indigenous to East Africa.

The plant shares resemblance to the plants in the genus Musa, where it once grew as “Musa Ensete”.

This large non-woody plant is often cultivated in Ethiopia and is a source of food for millions of Ethiopians.

The evergreen herbaceous has a few common names as follows:

  • Ethiopian Banana
  • Abyssinian Banana
  • Red Banana
  • Ensete Ventricosum Maurelii
  • Red Abyssinian Banana

Ensete Maurelii Care

Size and Growth

Ensete maurelii is a fast-growing banana plant, often reaching up to 12’ – 20’ feet tall.

When provided ideal growing season conditions, the humungous plant may heighten up to 30’ – 40’ feet tall.

The plant usually reaches this height in its native tropical lands only.

The leaves of the ensete are usually large, paddle-like, reaching up to 10’ – 20’ feet long and 2′ – 4’ feet wide.

They come in an olive-green shade and have vivid midribs and prominent leaf stalks.

The foliage is quite dramatic, with a combination of deep red and intense green colors.

Flowering and Fragrance

The Abyssinian banana produces non-showy flowers during their bloom time.

However, they are usually visible on young plants in a cool, moist season.

The plant doesn’t bloom in the first three or five years of its cultivation and evokes no scent whatsoever.

Besides this, the plant also produces dry and inedible fruiting of 3” inches long.

Light and Temperature

The tropical plant enjoys full sun or part shade to prompt active new growth.

The plant should avoid low light as it hinders growth.

For ideal formation, the plant further requires 68° degrees Fahrenheit (20° C).

During winter, the plant needs partial shade and a minimum temperature of 54° degrees Fahrenheit (12° C).

The USDA hardiness zone of Ensete maurelii is 10 to 11.

Watering and Feeding

The Abyssianian banana needs plenty of water, especially in the dry season.

The plant should not dry out between watering sessions.

The established plants are drought-resistant, to some extent.

However, ensure the moist soil is well-drained, ranging from a pH level of 5.5 to 6.5.

The banana tree is a heavy feeder and therefore needs a well-balanced fertilizer. More on banana fertilizer.

During cold, chilly weather conditions, the plant does well with infrequent watering as it is dormant at the time.

Soil and Transplanting

Whether growing indoors or outdoors, the tropical plant does great in any well-draining potting soil.

The summer-loving plant is suitable for sandy, loamy, or clay soil.

Suitable pH soils are acid, neutral, and alkaline.

Pick any type of soil but make sure it is well-moist.

Generally, the ensete maurelii plant is transplanted yearly into new pots, until they are finally ready to be cultivated in the field, where they stay until harvest.

The summer plant has the tendency to be transplanted multiple times, often 3 to 4 times; depending on the region it is planted.

In a scarce land, the suckers are usually transplanted into their new location, with the row spacing of 6’ to 9’ feet tall.

Grooming and Maintenance

Avoid overwintering at all costs. In winter, bring the plant indoors to protect it from heavy snow and strong winds.

Place it into a conservatory to keep it in the best possible state.

However, some species of the plant may sustain light frost but it’s recommended to bring the plant inside before the first frost.

The banana plant may need light pruning. Simply remove old leaves from the base with the help of a scissor or a knife.

How to Propagate Red Abyssinian Banana

The propagation of the heat-loving plant is performed by dividing the plant, sowing seeds, or tissue culture.

Botanists suggest seeding is the best propagating method as the plant species don’t produce suckers.

Before sowing, the seeds need to lightly soak in warm water a day before the sowing.

Plant the seeds deep in a semi-warm location.

The fresh seeds are quick to germinate while the older ones take approximately six months.

To encourage growth, water the soil more frequently and keep the specimen in a sheltered area.

Red Abyssinian Banana Pests and Diseases

Some major threats to Ensete maurelii are bacterial diseases such as:

  • corm rot
  • dead heartleaf rot
  • sheath rot
  • bacterial wilt

And viral diseases including:

  • mosaic
  • root lesion
  • root-knot
  • chlorotic leaf streaks

Fly spiders, mites, jassid, aphids, and mealybugs hinder the growth of the houseplant.

Ensete Maurelii Uses

These foliage plants have several edible and medicinal uses.

The sheath of the green leaves is used in making a type of flour, known as “kocho”, from which good-quality bread is made.

The seed’s endosperm is also edible and hence ideal for cooking purposes.

The trunk-sized leaves and stems are often used for treating liver problems and side-effects of miscarriage while the infusion of leaves and fruits is employed for curing hepatitis.

Ensete ventricosum ‘Maurelii’

Despite its sensitive, tender nature, the Abyssinian Banana, Ensete ventricosum, is becoming increasingly popular as a summer bedding plant in Britain. It’s well suited to growing in tropical garden schemes, bearing giant, jungle-like paddles of rich red and green leaves from its thick, leafy trunk.


Ensete ventricosum is extremely fast growing, and will quickly grow into a space, as the focal point of the display. For best results, grow in a warm sunny, sheltered spot, away from strong winds, which can damage the leaves and make them look unsightly. Water regularly and feed with a nitrogen-rich fertiliser once a fortnight.


In autumn, cut the plants down and either dig them up and transfer them into pots, which you can move indoors until late spring. In southern regions, it may be possible to wrap the plants with a thick later of horticultural fleece and mulch around the roots with well-rotted manure or compost. However you overwinter them, Ensete ventricosum plants should regrow quickly from late-spring onwards.

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