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Ensete ventricosum

Abyssinian Banana

This massive banana whose trunk can reach three feet in diameter is a real botanical curiosity. It is unbelievably fast growing and has carmine red undersides to the ribs of its huge leaves. It can be used as a summer bedding plant in cooler climates; otherwise plant it straight into the ground, and stand back.

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germination comments by our visitors
For general germination instructions click here.

Also see plant cultivation comments below.

Seeds from this species ...

... are very easy to germinate and need up to 1 month to sprout.
Soaked the seeds in water for a week changing the water daily.Places one seed with some seed soil and a spray of fungicide into a sandwich dag, then place a few at a time in a mini seedling green house in the sun.The other seeds in the bag where kept a little cooler to delay the germination. After about 1 to 2 week the seeds in the mini green house sprouted, I replanted them in pot with cling film over the top of the pots to help keep the soil warm and humid. Once the planted had developed a little I place them in green house until large enough to plant outside.
Submitted on 23/09/2013 by Felipe Garcia

... are very easy to germinate and need up to 1 month to sprout.
Sometimes the germination of this species varies a bit, but generally they do very well, and mature into very lange plants very soon, especially if fed and watered well! Worth trying for everyone who has room for it!
Submitted on 23/01/2010 by Remko

... are easy to germinate and need up to 1 month to sprout.
I received 10 seeds from RPS. I soaked them for three days in luke warm water and then transferred them to a zip-lock bag with a moist - not wet - sowing medium of 1 part coarse gravel, 1 part perlite and 2 part coco-peat. The bag were placed on a warm surface (15 W heating cable) and after 14 days the first seed were sprouting. During the next two weeks a total of 4 seeds has sprouted. The remaining seeds has yet to sprout.
Submitted on 05/03/2009 by one of our visitors

... are very easy to germinate and need up to 3 months to sprout.
These seeds are extremely quick to germinate! I soak the seeds for 24 hours prior to sowing, then sow in moist compost at a depth of ~1cm. I then place in a heated propagator at 25-30c and ensuring that the compost stays moist then just wait for the fun to start. Once germinated, immediately remove from the propagator and place in a bright warm position and be amazed at the rate of growth of this banana!
Submitted on 17/01/2009 by James Barnet

... are very easy to germinate and need up to 1 month to sprout.
Ordered 1000 seeds... Soaked them for several days,changing water daily. I just spread them out in plastic tubs filled with potting mixture with extra pine bark for excellent drainage. The tubs were watered daily. They are sprouting up all in all 3 tubs. I placed tubs in shaded GH temps in upper 90's. I have tried other banana seeds with very low germination results, but I am very pleased with these E. Ventricosum. Thanks RPS
Submitted on 27/08/2008 by Steve Wheat

... are difficult to germinate and need up to 6 months to sprout.
Unfortunately the germination of Ensete Ventricosum seeds is not an exact science.There are many theories floating around about the 'best technique'. Infact there is no best technique exept for trial and error, Ensete Ventricosum is not a true banana and does not require temprature fluctuations to germinate successfully. In experience I would say that the most effective technique to germinate Ensete seeds is to use this process:1) Use the growing mediums shown below, mix together and put in a clean 3" plastic pot:2/4 Peat based seed compost1/4 Sharp Sand1/4 High quality Vermiculite2) Pour boiling water into the pot to sterilise the mix. Wait until the water has drained and the mix has cooled.3) You can now remove your seeds from the packet and place one seed in each pot about as deep as the seed is large. This way each seed can have its own space and germinate when it feels ready.4) Place the pots directly into a Heated Propigator or alternitivly you can seal each pot in a clear plastic bag. Note- If you place the pot directly into a heated propigator make sure that It is kept moist (but not wet) at all times.5) Be patient, Ensete seeds are very eratic in how they germinate, your first seed could germinate in as little as a month or as long as six. So dont give up!6) Eventually you will come across a shoot.Remove all cover and place near a sunny well lit window.
Submitted on 28/12/2007 by Joshua carrotcarp@yahoo.com

... are very easy to germinate and need up to 1 month to sprout.
It only took 3 weeks for them to pop out of the ground.First soaking them 2/3 days in warm water. Then in sowing ground with alternating temperatures 20°C/30°C.
Submitted on 24/09/2007 by YohanBelgium p_jefke@hotmail.com

... are easy to germinate and need up to 3 months to sprout.
Hesitant to buy again, seeds from this plant I could not resist. My experience with this plant and other bananas was that, they just would not germinate. Even bought a propagator to see if it has more success. Anyway, after soaking the seeds placing them in the propagator, still nothing happened. Then I saw a comment on a website stating that the seeds need fluctuation in temp. So as it was really nice weather in The Netherlands, I potted them up and placed them outside in a sunny part of the garden. 2 weeks later they started to sprout. Of the 40 seeds (20 ensete glaucum, 20 ensete verticosum) 5 sprouted up till now, am curious if more will follow as we have the whole summer ahead of us.
Submitted on 11/05/2007 by one of our visitors

... are very easy to germinate and need up to 1 month to sprout.
I had kids in grade three (eight year olds) sowing seeds in baggies with sterilzed soil mix, (1 part sand 2 parts compost, slightly moist), The first of ten seeds sprouted in 2 weeks, then within the next two weeks the rest sprouted. There was no presoaking or scarifying. The seedlings are quickly growing in size. Great to get fresh seeds.
Submitted on 29/11/2006 by Carol oroland@telus.net

... are very easy to germinate and need up to 3 months to sprout.
These seeds are very easy to germinate. I have had great success with these, first ones sprouted after 18 days.Mix 2/4 soil (regular soil or compost), 1/4 sand and 1/4 vermiculite. The mix should be moist so much that it is not dry, but not wet.I used a plastic box that I filled about 5 cm (2") up with the soil mix. Then I made as many holes as I was going to sow. The holes were half the depth of the soil.Then I put the seeds in the holes and filled the holes with soil. Put a lid on. The lid should have some holes, if it is completely tight inside the box, mould can easily develop.The box was placed close to an oven, but not so that the seeds would be boiled. Their temperature was around 23°C (75°F) constantly.Write clearly what species you it is, any how many species you got!Let them take their time to germinate. After two weeks you should start checking every day or every other day, so that they don't grow up into the lid. Some of the seeds will usually sprout within a month, and some will use up to 3 months.When the sprout appear, careful move the sprout as fast as possible to an own pot, without destroying the roots. The soil in the new pot can be the same as the soil used when germinating the seeds.The sprout will grow best with moist air, so keep an plastic bag or something over the pot.
Submitted on 25/10/2006 by Gard Nergaard gardclne@hotmail

... are very easy to germinate and need up to 1 month to sprout.
I was given about a hundred seeds of the plant and, after soaking them in water for 48 hours, I put them into two medium size pots with regular peat and placed the pots into simple plastic garbage bags, then left them on my balcony, outside temperatures (late May - early June in Greece) between 15C (night) and 30C (day). As the seeds are quite large, I was left with a handful (about 15-20 of them) that didn't fit in the pots, so I made an "envelop" of wet cotton and placed them in it, then took it and put it in a simple plate and covered it with a plastic bag. After 20 days, about 15 seeds sprouted (some from the pots, others from the wet cotton cover) and every day a couple of new sprouts keep appearing. Overall, it seems like an exceptionally easy species to germinate.
Submitted on 12/06/2006 by Basilio basilio@otenet.gr

... are easy to germinate and need up to 6 months to sprout.
Seeds put in hot water and soaked for 5 days, water not exchanged. Soil: potting soil + some vermiculite, some perlite. During first month or so under lights and over heat (~18-23 degrees C).Original planting depth just under surface, later about half an inch down.Scarified seed molded.
Submitted on 18/04/2006 by tullmejs tullmejs@passagen.se

... are very easy to germinate and need up to 1 month to sprout.
Could there be a quicker easier amazing plant to grow. Mine sprout within 2 weeks and grow flat out. Chuck the seeds anywhere and they will grow here.
Submitted on 13/04/2006 by one of our visitors

...easy to germinate and need up to 3 months to sprout.
Rather easy to germinate. After two months in plastic bag, reached the top of it within a couple of days. After one year inside, next to a window, at a constant temperature of 23°C, has reached 70cm, one new leaf per week...Very impressive growth rate!...
Submitted on 21/06/2005 by one of our visitors

...easy to germinate and need up to 1 month to sprout.
Soak seeds for 24 hrs. Place seeds 1" deep in moist well drained soil (not wet) in shallow clear hard plastic storage bin such as rubbermaid storage container also with clear lid. Keep lid on to contain humidity and warmth. This will also cause the container to sweat keeping the soil moist. Place in warm bright location (under a covered patio or a tree). Some morning sun is ok but keep out of hot evening sun or it will cook the seeds. Seeds will begin to sprout within 2-3 weeks. Remove sprouts and place in 3"-4" peat moss pots in good potting soil. If you do not have a greenhouse, use a larger clear storage bin at least one foot deep as a portable greenhouse to house the potted seedlings. Keep out of direct sun. On hot days, prop lid open slightly to avoid overheating. Repot in larger 10"-12" pots when seedlings has 3-4 leaves.
Submitted on 22/07/2004 by one of our visitors

...very easy to germinate and need up to 1 month to sprout.
Very very easy. soaked for 3 days in warm water then into multi purpose compost that had been steralisd in microwave then into baggie, huge plants within the year
Submitted on 26/03/2004 by one of our visitors

...easy to germinate and need up to 3 months to sprout.
Soaked in water for 24hours then placed in propagator with seed compost for about 2 months at room temperature, 3 of the 5 seeds germinated. Very very fast grower!
Submitted on 04/02/2004 by one of our visitors

...very easy to germinate and need up to 1 month to sprout.
got plant as a liner and has grown to 10' in 6 months in south florida. having a problem with so much rain in everglades, such as the leaves are collecting so much water in the leaf bases that they are spreading apart and breaking the trunk apart. i think this plant is not adapt the +80" of rain annually here. does anyone have any success with this plant in very wet tropical climates?
Submitted on 27/10/2003 by John C. Hills jhills@swfla.rr.com

...easy to germinate and need up to 1 month to sprout.
Sown singly in multipurpose compost in 3 inch pots in ziplock sandwich bags and placed in airing cupboard (25-30C). Shoots from 4/5 seeds appeared within 4 weeks. Seedlings are now 8 weeks old and each at 30cm tall with 2 leaves and third on way (growing in bathroom at ambient temps between 18-27C). Thirsty, fast growing and bound to impress the neighbours. Just hoping they don't outgrow the house before the end of winter (East Anglia, UK)...
Submitted on 22/12/2003 by Martin Harrop martinharrop@btinternet.com

...easy to germinate and need up to 1 month to sprout.
No problem with this type of banana: I suggest to make a light mechanical scarification of seeds, to soak them in water (28-30°C) and then to sow them at warm/wet conditions (28-30°C; 80-100%). The germination happens after 14-30 days. Keep "newborns" in a well ventilated, warm and sunny environment. Much water!
Submitted on 27/03/2003 by Emanuele anchietae@libero.it

...easy to germinate and need up to 6 months to sprout.
Spouted after around 8 weeks, seeds planted in a mix of plain high grade dead spagnum(long fiber), and some part cacti-dirt. Some of them havent sprouted yet, but i guess time will tell how the germ-rate was on theese seeds....../ green regards Tom, sweden
Submitted on 19/02/2003 by Tomas apollo006@hotmail.com

...easy to germinate and need up to 6 months to sprout.
Soaked seed a couple of days, planted in mix of sand and potting soil. 1st germination in 3.5 months. Seedlings grow quickly but leaves can turn brown if air is too dry.
Submitted on 01/03/2003 by Steve Flynn sflynn22@mac.com

...very easy to germinate and need up to 1 month to sprout.
I feel the greatest hurdle here is to obtain fresh seed, I am not one for waiting until temperatures are perfect! On obtaining seed I soak in initially hand hot water, then change the water at least twice a day washing the seeds thoroughly each time. After four days of this I steralise a little moist multi-purpose compost in the microwave in a plastic bag, then add seeds and put in a plasic container next to the water boiler. Germination for me is around eight days and I leave for a few days until well sprouted and then pot up in a light position.
Submitted on 20/11/2002 by one of our visitors

...easy to germinate and need up to 1 month to sprout.
I simply soaked these in water for five days, then put the seeds into little plastic baggies containing sand, perlite, and peat moss with a little water, and hung therm near my ceiling with a heat lamp. 50% sprouted within 14 days, and I suspect the rest will follow soon. They grow like WEEDS! I have transplanted three sprouts already and they have grown four inches in 72 hours.... will order more!
Submitted on 16/06/2002 by Beaufort Longest III blongest@infoblox.com

...easy to germinate and need up to 3 months to sprout.
Superb plant and seeds were trouble free germinating. Soaked for two days and put into damp peat in a ziplock bag at ~30C. The first appeared in two weeks and the last just over two months. In my very temperate Irish garden I have this wonderful 10ft trunked summer bedding plant. I protect the trunk for the coldest months with potato sacking, it shoots back to life in may whether I like it or not. Loves fertiliser and then some!
Submitted on 17/07/2002 by graham little littlegraham5@hotmail.com

...not rated.
A great eye-catching summer annual in cold climates. Can get 6 feet or more in a summer in Denver. The easiest, quickest, adn largest banana I've grown from seed
Submitted on 30/08/2002 by Mark McCauley Mark.McCauley@ag.state.co.us

...easy to germinate and need up to 1 year to sprout.
On a holiday in Tenerife last year 2001 I bought some seeds of the above named sowed them as soon as I got back in Feb. in a propagator. All year they were in there nothing happened until I came back from Tenerife this year 2002 bought some more seeds to try again, sowed them in cell pots placed on compost in propagator to my amazement last years seeds germinated so it good total darkness to get them going I placed a magazine on top of this year seed all but two have come up so far .
Submitted on 14/04/2002 by Ray Roberts RayDRoberts@aol.com

...very easy to germinate and need up to 1 month to sprout.
Soak seeds until all have sunk about 3 days. Sow in vermiculite and keep at 27C (81F). Most will germinate within 2 weeks with some stragglers up to 6 weeks.Those not germinated by this time are unlikely to. Expect about 80% success.Extremely fast growing once germinated able to obtain a height of two metres (6') in one season if well watered and fertilised.
Submitted by Adam St.Clair stclair2@bigpond.com

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plant cultivation comments by our visitors
Also see germination commnets above.

Plants from this species ...

... are of excellent ornamental value
In Yeppoon, Central Queensland. in Australia they need very little care and grow very fast.
Central Qld, Australia on the Tropic of Capricorn, this plant is best used as a winter annual. As soon as the heat hits it growth stops and plants weaken, aphid damage is severe and root and stem rots. In cooler months these are amazingly fast and beautiful, just accept that it will not survive our summers. Replanting each Autumn in full sun and kept moist you will be impressed.
Submitted on 17/03/2012 by Geoff Breen

... are of excellent ornamental value
In Southampton in England they need little care and grow very fast.
This has got to be one of the fastest growing banana plants ever! In the first year from seed, the plant reached almost a metre tall even in the cool climate of the English summer! Each consecutive leaf gets bigger and wider, a truly majestic plant! I plant my bananas in the ground outside during summer during the frost-free months from May to September each year, and by September the plants are reaching peak growth. I water the plants copiously during the warm summer months, never allowing them to dry out and mulch the base of the plant with thick well rotted horse manure avoiding contact with the trunk itself. I place the plant in a position of full sun and moderate shelter from wind, although the thick leaves are very wind resistant anyway and wind does not bother this very sturdy plant. I dig the plant up in late September or early October and move to a heated greenhouse overwinter, watering more sparingly and keeping the plant in a large pot, filled with general compost. The plant has taken a temperature of 0c several times for short periods with no damage, however I anticipate that prolonged periods below freezing will not be tolerated well. The plant is easy to grow, and the only real maintenance that is required is the pruning of drooping leaves and regular repotting if pot-grown!
Submitted on 17/01/2009 by James Barnet

... are of excellent ornamental value
In south west ,blow your head off ,victoria in australia they need very little care and grow very fast.
I bought this plant a little nervously 2 years ago , it can be a little hard to find around here ,as it is more off a tropical plant but good on a nursery for stocking something a bit different around here.Well last year it was hot above 40 degrees ,and bloody cold 2 degrees, it even snowed very lightly.It stood up to all of these conitions and must admit it didnt grow much in the winter but in the summer i had to take a step back.I positioned it so it recieves protection from our harsh winds hot and cold ,and near a downpipe so it recieves plenty of additional water.Our soil is wonderfull for growing plants and is extremly well drained.It is at least 2.5 meters tall now with a trunk about 60cms around and adds that wonderful tropical feeling i was looking for my garden.Who said you cant grow bananas in the cool regions of the world.So if you want to add a bit of the tropics to your garden go for Ensete Ventricosum.Cant wait till the weather warms up again to purchase some seeds and grow my own.
Submitted on 07/04/2006 by one of our visitors

win € 75 worth of seeds
by writing a plant cultivation comment about how to cultivate the plants of this species. Click here!

If you wish to read more on palm cultivation, we highly recommend Ornamental Palm Horticulture by Timothy K. Broschat and Alan W. Meerow, available in our bookshop.

Ratings and comments reflect individual experiences and the views of our visitors. They do not necessarily describe the most appropriate methods, nor are they necessarily valid for all seeds or plants of this species. Germination and plant cultivation success depends on many different factors; nevertheless, these experiences will hopefully aid you in your effort to get the best germination results from our seeds and the best growth results from your plants.

We recommend:
The Encyclopedia of Cultivated Palms

The Encyclopedia of Cultivated Palms
by Robert Lee Riffle, Paul Craft, Scott Zona

2nd edition
Completely revised and updated

Hardcover - 528 pages
11 x 8.5 inches

Our rating:
Suitable for: all

The Encyclopedia of Cultivated Palms is the definitive account of all palms that can be grown for ornamental and economic use. Palms are often underutilized as a result of their unfamiliarity—even to tropical gardeners. To help introduce these valuable plants to a new audience, the authors have exhaustively documented every genus in the palm family.
825 species are described in detail, including cold hardiness, water needs, height, and any special requirements. Generously illustrated with more than 900 photos, including photos of several palm species that have never before appeared in a general encyclopedia, The Encyclopedia of Cultivated Palms is as valuable as an identification guide as it is a practical handbook. Interesting snippets of history, ethnobotany, and biology inform the text and make this a lively catalog of these remarkable plants.

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