Propagation of Ensete v. ' Maurelii'

subtropixAugust 14, 2008

Recently, I was at my local garden center and found a stunningly gorgeous Ensete ventricosum 'Maurelii' for sale. The plant is about 6 feet tall and has a pseudostem that is about 8 inches in diameter. (I only paid $30.00 dollars for it.) With respect to bananas I am mostly familiar with Musa and Lasiocarpa. My questions are about the life cycle of this plant. I assume it dies back after flowering and fruiting. At

what height (or age) do they typically flower and fruit. Secondly, does this banana typically sucker?? If not, is seed the only way to propagate it? (My M. sikkimensis flowered last year but I've been able to keep the plant going through its suckers.)

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NoVaPlantGuy_Z7b_8a(Alexandria, VA 7B/8A)

Hi there. I dont know TONS about the lifecycle of Red Abyssinian's (Ensete Ventricosum "Maurelii"), but I do not think our growing season here in zones 7 and 8 are quite long enough for it to flower and fruit.

I also have not seen these set "pups" either. I think they only way to propagate them would be to plant seeds of them.

That said, Im fairly sure the "maurelii" is fairly corm hardy in zones 7 and 8, maybe even zone 6. I know of several in my neighborhood that come back every spring, and usually grow fairly large.

From my understanding, most just protect the corm by covering it with several inches of mulch for the winter, and maybe a plastic sheet with a few small air holes to keep it mostly dry. The trick is to avoid two things from happenning. The corm freezing, and the corm from rotting. Cold and wet for extended periods can cause the rotting, and well, freezing, thats pretty self explanatory.

Hope that helps!

    Bookmark   August 15, 2008 at 11:26AM
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What a good deal!!! $30? WOW, I want to move to where you live.

I confirmed what novaplantguy said. It doesn't produce pups so you will need to get seedlings or germinate from seeds yourself.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2008 at 2:02PM
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Thanks for the propagation info. I just planted it in the ground. I thought it was a good deal but believe me, I really did NOT want to buy another plant--it was a temptation though that I couldn't resist. I was really surprised to find it still in the inventory of this garden center along with a few others. This was in an affluent neighborhood where people really invest in their homes, lawns, gardens, etc.. (They don't call this the Garden State for nothin'.) I take it as another sign of an economy that really is suffering. I know that garden centers try to move out items for the end of the season, but this place has multiple greenhouses for the tropicals and from what I read Ensete is easy enough to overwinter. Oh well, at least it went to a very good home! Enjoy the weekend.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2008 at 3:28PM
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They're right - one of the defining features of the genus Ensete is that they only reproduce via seed. I've not had any success with any of the Ensete species wintering over outside, even with mulching, caging, and wrapping the trunks. We're nominally in zone 7b (coastal southern VA), but our lowest temp in the last two years was about 15 degrees F. Musa basjoo and velutina are reliably hardy here, as is Musella lasiocarpa. I dig my Ensetes, wrap them, and store them in the garage.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2008 at 7:08PM
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joey_powell(8b (15.1F) USDA 2012)

>> They're right - one of the defining features of the genus >> Ensete is that they only reproduce via seed

I don't think its like that for all Snow Bananas (Ensete Glaucum) produce lots of pups each year!!!! :)

    Bookmark   August 18, 2008 at 5:29PM
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If you want more plants you can sacrifice one to make many.

This past spring I thought one of my maurelli's was rotten. I chopped the trunk right down to the corm and then chopped the corm itself in to 4 pieces. Basically 4 vertical cuts straight down.

I planted the 4 corm chunks into individual pots and a couple weeks later I had many sprouts. I now have 4 pots FULL of ensete sprouts which given time you can separate and have a ton of plants.

I learned about this at Check it out.


    Bookmark   August 18, 2008 at 9:05PM
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This is an interesting idea, and makes sense, considering this method of propagation works for other monocots which are reluctant to produce offsets, including Agaves, Lilies, and some species of Crinum. Tony Avent did a spot on Martha Stewart last spring in which he took a power drill to the center of an Agave in order to force it to produce pups. I guess it's a more "macro" form of tissue culture, and I might try it this fall as an alternative to hauling in one of my entire plants - would be much easier on the back, and take up lots less storage space. The only drawback would be that sizewise you'd be starting over at square one, rather than beginning next spring with a large plant, but this might be desirable in certain cases, or areas with long growing seasons.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2008 at 4:26AM
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ornata(London UK (8/9?))

Here's a link on propagating Ensete.

This winter I brought my Ensete ventricosum in for winter and it died back to the corm. In spring it put out two suckers which I was able to separate and pot up. It probably would have sent up more if I'd put it on a heat source.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2008 at 11:48AM
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What a great article - thanks for passing along the link!

    Bookmark   August 19, 2008 at 2:04PM
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