Ensete ventricosum ‘Maurelii’, the Red Abyssinian banana or Ethiopian banana online. An absolutely stunning, if not jaw dropping, much sought after banana that is an essential addition to the exotic summer border. It has similar proportions to Ensete ventricosum which is plain green.
In the wild it can grow up to 6m tall by 5m wide. In a warm summer in the UK it will get up to about 3-4m tall after 3 years. A new 1m plant if well fed can reach up to 2m in its first year. The base leaf colour is green, suffused with shades of red to purple that are so deep that some parts can look almost black.
The leaf edges and midribs are a shade of rich deep red, as is the trunk. Unfortunately it rarely blooms in temperate gardens.
Hailing from Ethiopia and Angola, it requires slightly warmer winter temperatures than the species and must be kept dry in winter at a minimum of 5-7C and kept bone dry from November to March when it can be watered again. If a relatively small plant it can be stored with all its foliage on but when taller most of the foliage can be removed after the plant has been dug up, then placed in a container slightly larger than the stem base – it does not mind its roots being cut off!
Sometimes when overwintering it can get a condition commonly known as ‘the strangles’, where the central leaf stalk becomes twisted. When this happens the plant can be cut to the ground and kept dry, where it will subsequently produce dozens of pups which will appear around the base. These can be propagated by removing with a section of the base plate.
If overwintering is not possible give it to a friend and start again as it is not particular expensive!