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Ensete ventricosum ‘Maurelii’, photo courtesy of Saxon Holt/PhotoBotanic
Ensete ventricosum ‘Maurelii’, photo courtesy of Saxon Holt/PhotoBotanic

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Zones 13, 15-24, H1, H2
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Regular Water

Ensete ventricosum

Abyssinian Banana

African native is grown for its lush, attractive tropical-looking foliage. For fruit-bearing banana trees, see Banana. Fast growing to 15–20 ft. tall, 10–15 ft. wide. Dark green leaves with stout midribs grow out in arching form from a single vertical stem; each leaf is 10–20 ft. long, 2–4 ft. wide. ‘Maurelii’ has dark red leafstalks and leaves tinged with red on upper surface, especially along edges. Bloom typically occurs 2 to 5 years after planting, when inconspicuous flowers form within a cylinder of bronzy red bracts at end of stem. Plant dies to roots after flowering; it’s possible then to grow new plants from shoots that sprout from the crown, but easier to simply discard the old plant and replace it with a new one from the nursery.

Leaves are easily shredded by wind, so plant in a wind-sheltered location. Evergreen in mildest climates. In Zones 13, 15, 16, 18, will die back in a cold winter, regrow in spring. Good container subject to grow outdoors in summer and then move indoors or into a greenhouse over winter.

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