Ornamental PlantsPlant Care Instructions

Red Abyssinian Banana are Beautiful But Not Edible

The Ensete maurelii is also called Red Abyssinian Banana and is a huge ornamental plant with leaves up to 10 feet long. The maurelii is a colorful plant that looks like it has been hand painted with red leaf surfaces and red leaf axils. In their native tropical environment, they can grow to 18 feet or more in height, but they will remain much smaller in containers or cultivation. This banana does not produce suckers so it must be grown from seed or by tissue culture. It is very fast growing, but difficult to flower in northern climates. The fruits have very large, hard seeds and are inedible. It will grow well in full sun to partial shade and makes an outstanding focal point in a large container or planted in the ground. The Ensete maurelii brings the tropical look to any garden setting.

Like many tropical plants, these can be successfully wintered inside, although they will likely stop growing or slow down. In the summer, they appreciate being moved outside, where they can get adequate sun, which is important for their full leaf coloration. Like bananas, these plants are rapid growers and love plenty of moisture, fertilizer, heat, and sunlight—the more you can provide for these conditions, the better your plants will look.

Abyssinian bananas are tropical specimen plants that can do beautifully in a conservatory or sunroom. The key to successful growth is more: more water, more light, more fertilizer, and more warmth. They are not especially tender and can withstand colder temperatures and will recover, although there might be some browning of the leaf margins. They can be vulnerable to pests including aphidsmealy bugs, scale, and whitefly. If possible, identify the infestation as early as possible and treat with the least toxic option.

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