Ensete ventricosum (Abyssinian Banana) seeds
Bananas are enjoying a resurgence in popularity, justifiably so as they are easy to grow and few plants can rival their impact on any garden. Very few species are fully hardy, but once mature they can be planted out and wrapped in sacking for the winter. Some species are smaller in habit and make ideal houseplants.
Ensete ventrisosum (also known as Musa ensete) is a palm-like Banana with a bottle-shaped trunk and a crown of huge, green leaves with a bright crimson midrib, which in its natural habitat, grown up to 6m long! Occasionally bears reddish-green flowers with dark red bracts and small banana-like fruits.
Tender Perennial (min. 10C when young, but once mature can be planted out and wrapped up for winter.)
Height: to 6m
Position: Does best in filtered sunlight in a sheltered position out of strong winds.
Packet of 5 seeds
Pre-Sowing Instructions: Soak the seeds for 48 hours in warm water. To keep the water warm rest the container on a radiator, place in a propagator or in the airing cupboard. If this is not possible, change the water frequently to keep it warm.
Sowing Instructions: Sow at any time of the year. Sow well-spaced and 10mm deep in an equal mix of sand and good quality seed compost, eg. John Innes. Seal inside a polythene bag or place in a propagator and maintain at about 25C, keeping the humidity high. Germination takes can take anything from 3 months to a year and can be erratic hence the need to sow the seeds well-spaced. Check the container regularly to make sure the compost does not dry out.
Growing Instructions: When seedlings are large enough to handle, remove them carefully from the container and pot up individually into 9-11cm pots. Grow on in cooler conditions in good, natural light, but avoid direct sunlight, re-potting as necessary – they can grow very quickly! Young plants need a minimum of 10C until mature and can be put outdoors in summer in a sheltered spot preferably with filtered sunlight. Once mature, plants can be planted out in the garden in a sheltered position out of strong winds and given good winter protection. To protect in winter, tie up all the leaves vertically with string then wrap in layers of sacking or fleece stuffed with straw. Another method is to use plastic piping stuffed with straw or for large, mature plants, a rough framework can be made around the plant and filled with straw – wooden pallets are good for this but anything sturdy will do!