Lots of fertilizer and water have sure taken my Ensete Bananas to their best year yet!
And you are in zone 4?
Very good job!
Thanks, butterfly4u. It's been warmer the last several years, but yes, I live in zone 4. Within my married life, I've seen -45 and -39 degree nights during winter here in the bottom of the cold mountain valley where I live, in northern Utah. 30 below is not that rare. 20 below is common. As a kid I remember winters where the temperature never got above zero for a two week period. Luckily it's been nice the last two winters. The year before, we had 20 below zero on Thanksgiving morning!
Mine are about 3/4 that tall...Yours look great...What do you do with yours for the winter??...I have mine in pots then in the greenhouse and ya, mine will need bigger pots next year...lol.
knotz... the most amazing thing about these gigantic ensete bananas is each Spring, they grow back from 4 foot stumps. I cut them off to 4' tall stumps after we get a killing frost (this week, for sure), dig them up, put them in 15 gallon nursery pots, and stick them in an unheated unlit room in my basement. They eventually go dormant. If I water them, it's just once in February. That's it! They stay dormant until I bring them out into the light and heat around the end of March. They come back to life and start to green up again. I plant them in the ground around the middle of May when the danger of frost is over, and they grow back to 16 foot tall plants. I've done this for years.
That's amazing!!...Here's a picture of one of mine...I have 4 of these as well as other bananas...The past couple years, I've just been tying the leaves together to fit them in my 8' tall greenhouse...So cutting them down to 4' is ok, huh??...I'll try that...And I'll plant one in the ground and see how they do...I also wrote down the fertilizer you use and will try that too...Thanks for the pictures and tips :)
Great pictures knotz. Very nice back yard! I think ANY nitrogen fertilizer will work. Good luck!
Thanks so much...Here's another picture of my tropical "corner" with three more ensetes...Most of the plants are still babies and I can't wait for them to get bigger...Only problem is having to keep buying bigger pots!!..lol.
Knotz.... you can always plant them in the ground during summer. They will do better than in pots, and grow bigger!
I'm gonna try it with at least 2 of them...Thanks for the inspiration!!...AND the help :)
great pics all!!
hey artictropical.. ive been kicking around idea of
putting in heat cables in soil where i plant all my tropicals.. for early summer heating soil ..thinking..maybe would give the plants that extra bump for earlier faster growing..since i live in slightly warmer area than u..(not by much though)..
i have an amorphophallus titanum that is going gangbusters..i have soil at 80F and above all the time..and its becomming a monster tree..so i thought.. maybe same practice on my outdoor tropicals..
?? how did your aroids do this summer??? me..the heat really stunted them.. biggest alocasia barely got to 7 ft..
Hi! I had just been researching banana tree to plant in the Ozark Zone 6B mostly to see if it was extremely difficult to dif them up. I am 56 so I want to be able to dig them up and no one to help me. Are the roots big, deep and wide? Also, we are one of the windest places here, would I have to stake them? Yours are so gorgeous!!! Lots of incentive for the rest of us! Thanks, diane
lomodor, YES! A heating cable in your soil would certainly get your bananas growing quicker! Great idea. My normal elephant ear caladiums (taro) did very well, but my trunking elephant ears were kind of stunted as well. They are doing better inside, out of the bright sun.
arkie99 (Diane), The roots are not deep nor wide, but the plants are very heavy, so it might be tough moving them without help unless you can cut them way back so they aren't so big when you move them inside. They will still come back even if you cut them down to short stumps. My enesete get some protection from the prevailing winds, so I would suggest you plant them in somewhat of a protected place so that the leaves don't shred so much in the wind. Good luck! They are definitely one of my most favorite tropical plants that I grow.
THank you for replying. I am sure thinking about it for next summer!
Are those just regular ensete bananas ? Their all so big!
Hi Tristan. They are the Maurelii variety, or Red Abysinnian or ensete banana. I have grown the plain green ones from seed. They both grow into large specimens with lots of fertilizer and water. Right now they are in my unlit, unheated basement room as 6 foot stumps in 15 gallon pots, gone dormant. I may or may not water them at all. If I water them, it will be just once before Spring.
That's good to hear because I've ordered a maurelii and am very excited to plant it in the spring.
I just remembered. How do they reproduce?
Hi again, Tristan. They reproduce by seed (ensente bananas). But I understand that all Maurelii ensete bananas are cloned from the original, since they don't produce seed that carries the same genetic traits as the parent.
Hmm that's different. But cool.
I got mine last fall as tiny plug plants, and I'm hoping they can get to a decent size before I put them outside.
Here's a picture of my ensete maurelii plants.
Steve, nice plants. Just make sure you don't overwater them inside. Once they are planted outside in the bright sun and heat, water is not a problem, but a BIG requirement! Good luck.
The bigger one on the right side is actually stressing for water about every 3 days now that it has so much foliage. It seems like 1 sunny day can almost cause the banana to suck all the water out of the pot so I'm not too worried about over-watering anymore.
When they were still tiny, then I needed to keep the watering low. Since I shifted the bug screen to the other side, the smaller banana has already put out a whole new leaf so it has clearly accelerated its growth, but it will take a while to catch up to the other one.
Steve... good news with your plants. Sounds like you're doing the right thing. I don't know if you've ever used a soil moisture meter but I use it faithfully. It sure helps.
I haven't used a soil moisture meter before, but I'm finding that if you give a plant enough light, they are usually more tolerant to wet soil. On ensete maurelii, I have learned that I can literally water it until the water seeps out at the bottom to ensure all of the soil is well soaked. The plants won't have any issues because they are already well established in their pots.
I think the biggest issue when people over water is when their plant still hasn't taken a strong hold in the pots. Those ensete in the picture are noticeably bigger than they were in that picture now, and I'm pretty sure that the roots are really wrapping around the sides by now.
The smaller one's new leaf is like 2-3X the size of any previous leaf just with the bug screen shift, along with lengthening days.
winter is going strong here..still..sigh..
all my nanners are lookin good in winter storage..
last yr i had alot of shrinkage ..this yr..not so much
odd.. also this yr i only sprayed the roots (with mix of kelp powder)once so far.. i find all my tropicals,nanners and EE's
and big canna musafolia take all the watering i can give them.. last summer it wasnt so much hot..but it was a really
i think this season i will mulch my EE's..but not the nanners..
I finally watered my ensete (the only time this winter). They still look excellent in dormancy and have not lost any weight to shrinkage.
Weighing them sounds like a pretty good measure on their vigor. Do you keep them in a sun room, or in a room with nice strong lights?
Mine are watered twice a week now, and their stems are getting past the 1 inch mark now, looking more and more root bound in their pots.
i dont pot my up..i dont know if i have big enough pots for biggest ensete..and kandarian..
so i overwinter mine bareroot..in room with little light..
this yr..they are definately overwintering better than last yr.. :) yea !!!
Hi Steve & lomodor. They are in dormancy in a cold unlit, unheated basement room. My ensete are so big they barely fit in the 15 gallon pots. The width of the "trunks" are just barely smaller than the width of the pots. I'm amazed how good they still look. They are still green and full of water, just waiting for the chance to come out in the heat and the light. Good luck with yours!
I chopped off the new growth by half of what you see here. The new growth happened just after I brought them in last Fall, but they are totally dormant now, and are perfectly happy and healthy, waiting for Spring. I watered them once the entire winter, two weeks ago. That's all they will get till Spring kicks in.
very cool tropic !! u chop P-stem down mostly for
space ..is that right?? do u find any plant benifit of this
over just cutting down the leaves to last one??
with the girth of my biggest ensete im thinking thats what
i should do next yr.. its just so heavy..
ive bought many big nanner pups that were done just that
way..mostly sabas,kandarian.. and they always do just fine..
so im thinking why not do same with my ensete..
sort of felt like spring here last week.. oopsss.. spoke to
soon.. we got light dusting of snow today.. guess u got
more up north??? tropic?? sigh..
Lomodor.... I chop them down just so I can fit them inside some sliding glass doors into the basement and down my basement hall to the storage room. Ensete are very tolerant of cutting them back to whatever height. They always come back every summer and get bigger every year. They are so heavy I must drag them on some plastic across the carpet. They are way too heavy to lift. The weather here? It snowed today. We never had a January thaw, so we've had deep snow since mid December. Spring isn't here yet!
If they are getting that heavy, they might be getting close to flowering eh.
You might want to slice one in half, or cut out its meri-stem in the spring to make one pup given they are all the same age so they don't all end up flowering at the same time. If they get too heavy, you might need a dolly to start moving them around.
If they ever flower, I'd be excited! I've got two smaller ones growing upstairs in the heat and light, so if the older ones ever flower and die... no problem!
Wow, artictropical, I love your beautiful gigantic Ensete. My jaws almost dropped .. I never knew they can grow so huge. You've done a great job and all of that in such a cold planting zone! Knotz, your plants too and the beautiful landscaping--both of your landscaping. It's amazing.
It's an inspiration. It makes me want to do more for my Ensete. It's now sitting in a pot. Where we are, I can actually plant it in the ground and not have to over winter it. I have mine for a few years now and it just goes into dormancy and then comes back again without my having to protect it. It hasn't flowered yet ... I think I might plant it in the ground and see if it'll grow bigger. I'm going to use your suggestion to feed and water it and see what happens. Thanks for sharing all your pictures here.
my ensetes do get big.. and the kandarians..my sabas
hopefully will be this season..i understand sabas and kandarians get bigger than ensetes..
i have neighbour kids that help me haul them in in the
fall.. one of my ensete maurelli..now way could i have
lifted on my own.. lol
Update on the Ensete Maurelii.
I just updated my blog post to include the latest pictures of these guys. They just keep getting bigger and bigger through the winter with only south facing window light.
Here is a link that might be useful: Latest update on the ensete maurelii bananas
Just wanted to give my 2 cents: what arctictropical does works very well, I did it successfully for years until kids started to take away from my gardening time, but now that they are a little older and not as needy I will resume the tropical kick.
Ensete roots are thick and fragile, they spread outwards from the crown. During the growing season they extend many feet, looking for as much water as possible. They are easily pruned with a shovel at the end of the season, and the massive trunk can be unearthed surprisingly easily. Stick your shovel under the stump, tap it in with your foot and give it a push. That is it.
Instead of pots, I kept the wimpy rootball wrapped up in a garbage bag and filled it with a little bit of mulch so that it stays humid during the winter. Mine were also stored in the garage, and I was able to lay them sideways.
Ideally you cut off all the leaves down to the petiole. I use a steak knife and slice them in one motion. I would keep the newest leaf intact. It will be the first one to quickly unfurl in the spring.
I also recommend not waiting for a frost, as this can damage the newest leaves enough to cause rot and risk the meristem. Another issue I experienced was aphids in the spring, they love the new growth. Luckily they are easily treated with some soapy water and canola oil.
Given enough heat, water and fertilizer they grow very fast. Ensete, moreso than Musa, can put on good growth even in cooler weather.
If you want a headstart, you can pot the stump into a container and put it somewhere bright in the house. Within a few weeks, the young leaves will start to expand.
Outdoors as the season continues, the outer sheaths start to dry up and can be removed, revealing the shiny sheaths which are part of the new leaves. Any dried up sheaths should be removed prior to winter storage, as these are places where unwanted insects can hide.
If they get too big and heavy, just get some new seedlings and start over. No need to worry about lugging around 80lbs of Ensete.
Good information xerophyte. I wish my ensete only weighed 80 pounds! Mine are so heavy I cannot lift them, but end up dragging them in their pots along the ground and into my basement through some sliding glass doors. They sure grow much faster than musa! This Summer I will have my 3 big ones, and 3 new smaller ones that I've had up in the heat and light all winter. You can never have too many!
so true artic.. we hit 70F here in provo today !!
i decided not to pot up all the nanners this yr..and transplant them out early june..
my biggest 3 ensete maurelli were close to 150# +
i got neighbour kid to help me haul them in last fall..
and one of my kandarian's got big too.. and it pupped
yea..more bananas!!! :)
i do similar cutting down as xerophyte does.. i know people on bananas.org cut them down as u do artic..
i might with some this fall and see how it goes next yr..
im anxious for getting everything out..
hope u all post pics when you do get things planted out..or how your nanners fared over the winter..
my look good.. this yr all i did is dust them with cinnamon
and put on cardboard boxes..
Arctic (or anyone else who knows), mind if I ask you a question?
Here in Florida I haven't seen many mature Maurelii. The few I have seen maintain very short pseudostems... closer to stumps than trunks, though the size of their foliage often resembles your own.
Is a longer, taller pseudostem simply a matter of age? Soil and fertilizer? The best I've seen was MAYBE a 9' maurelii, and that's including the top tip of a fresh vertical leaf.
Mine are all less than a year old. They've got pseudostems 4-8" across, but little height. What's the deal?
foreverlad.. i would have thought other way around..we up here in the north wouldnt get the size u could in more
im relatively a newbie to bananas.this will be my 4th season..
my maurelli.and glaucum which can have nice sized
p stems.. didnt really take off last yr until end of july..
i figured it was i finally took my nanners off their diet..and kicked in loads of fertilizer..LOL
ive found my EE's and bananas have no problem taking
whatever fertilizer i give them.. so..ive been giving heavier levels to them..and they sure show there appreciation by size..
you could call up a few local nurseries there..ask them ..also call local extention service there..alot of good people volunteer there..with good info..
Believe it or not, local belief is that Ventricosum can't handle the stress of high heat + humidity that arrives toward summertime. It's even posted to the bananas.org wiki that they don't do well in Florida. I'm not saying that's accurate, and I've even found a few who say otherwise, but overall, it's accepted almost as fact. It's at a Green Thumb festival this weekend that I saw the 9' plant. It was potted and on display at one of the booths.
That's the only reason I haven't pestered local nurseries and the like. The few who carry them carry mid-starters and often call them 'red bananas'. Not a lot of expertise in the field, locally.
I'm growing a bunch of bananas and EEs, and yeah, they'd gargle fertilizer if they had mouths.
Here's a photo taken last week from one of my tropical beds. The leaves look good, but they're what makes up the height of the plant. You can't even see the Pstem behind the 18 inch snapdragons.
Foreverlad.... that is puzzling. I would think in Florida they would grow like weeds. Maybe Ensete prefer cooler nights. Who knows? At least you can grow musa outside to "glorious" heights!
Thanks Arctic. Yeah, I'm no expert on geography, but if these do originate from parts of Africa, I'm sure there's a number of weather conditions that Florida just can't match. If the warnings about them are true, it sounds like this is the kind of banana better suited to California than Florida.
Though it'd be a shame to possibly lose these (I'm still not convinced, this is my time to test it) we can grow most any other banana like a weed, so it's a fair tradeoff.
All my musa and blue java started as tissue culture, planted in July. They took awhile to get going, but most of them have already thrown 3-5 sword sucker pups so far this season. It really is astounding.
great pic foreverlad !!
dont give up on maurelli.. :)
it is a beautiful plant..reddish leaves..and size..
?? size does matter???
my bananas are getting anxious to go out.. they are all
shooting leaves now..
still to soon though..
Just planted 5 ensete outside yesterday, including my 3 big ones. They have started greening up just in two days in the sun. They are going to be gigantic this year! I am so happy they don't mind being stuck in the basement in the dark all winter with just one drink in February.
wow artic.. u have a jump on me.. its sure been nice
lately..we hit 87F yesterday..i see temps next week are
"suppose" to cool to mid 70sF ..i guess thats not to bad..
my 2 biggest maruelli are on there 3rd leaf shooting out
so ..i gotta get these babies planted soon too..
Can't wait to see some photos once your Maurelii kick it into full gear.
My Maurelii are holding up well. Had a serious bout of leaf-rollers which cost one of my ensete 3 or 4 leaves, but the problem has been dealt with. Fortunately, the plant is recovering nicely. It's amazing how these things grow. By the time a leaf unrolls, the next cigar leaf is already 3/4s of the way out. These guys also never seem to lose leaves naturally, I only cut lower leaves away for a little airflow.
Anyway, don't want to hijack your thread, I've just come to associate this spot with a Maurelii love support group.
Photo from (approximately) the same angle as my last photo, this is about 3 weeks of growth in the bed
Arctic... inspiring. Now I want to do some tropical ones outside too. I have a cellar that would be great for storage. That's where I put my brugmansias during the winter. Do they pup often? I notice the other pics you had of where they were dug just looked like singles.
I'm up in the mountains of WV, not too far from the ski resorts. we don't get as low in the negatives like you do though, but it's bad enough :)
Your pic looks great too! I love that fact that I can dig the EEs and just toss them back out again each year, but this has not been a good storage year for my illustrus ee (black and green) it doesn't really form much of a pseudobulb at all so it dries up so easily, but yet rots too easily too. I've kept dozens of them for years, but when I took them out this spring I was able to find four or five little pieces alive. I always store them in a mixture of potting mix and saw shavings. Didn't work well this year though.
Thanks Lomodor, Foreverlad & Chisware. Great pics Foreverlad. Wow. I wish I had your climate! Chris, I have always had a problem storing the newer varieties of EE except for the typical plain old green taro. They always do fine. Ensete do not produce pups. I just buy more and more small plants from a local nursery. I'm up to 6 ensete now. I had 8 last year but gave two away. They ALWAYS survive dormancy in my basement. I love how tough they are! I just posted a pic of the ensete that I planted a week ago in a new thread. I gave them a good dose of Milorganite. They are already starting to grow like weeks. It's kind of exciting to imagine how big they will get this year. Every year they get bigger and bigger. I will need help dragging them to the basement this Fall. They are too heavy for one person to lift now!
Just to add to what Arctic said, there's only one semi-reliable way to propagate an Ensete like these.
You have to cut down the pseudostem, maybe 3-4 inches from the base, then slice (from the top) into the corm, basically dividing/damaging the top of it.
It's not always 100% reliable, but depending on your luck, you can get 5-20 new plants out of it.
Only thing to note is, this only works if your maurelii hasn't flowered yet.
Thanks for the info. I'll definately be looking at the lcoal nurseries to see if any come in. That's a bummer that they don't pup, but probably good though that the energy goes to growth instead!
Arctic... I'll be watching for future pics, saw the new ones and they look almost like they were just trimmed a few weeks ago... not months.