Ensete ventricosum ‘Maurelii’, the Red Abyssinian banana or Ethiopian banana online. An absolutely stunning, if not jaw dropping, much sought after banana tree / banana plant  that is an essential addition to the exotic summer border. It has similar proportions to Ensete ventricosum which is plain green.

BUY: Red Abyssinian Ethiopian Banana here from UK Sellers

In the wild it can grow up to 6m tall by 5m wide. In a warm summer in the UK it will get up to about 3-4m tall after 3 years. A new 1m plant if well fed can reach up to 2m in its first year. The base leaf colour is green, suffused with shades of red to purple that are so deep that some parts can look almost black. The leaf edges and midribs are a shade of rich deep red, as is the trunk. Unfortunately it rarely blooms in temperate gardens.

Ensete ventricosum ‘Maurelii’ – Red Abyssinian Ethiopian banana

Hailing from Ethiopia and Angola, it requires slightly warmer winter temperatures than the species and must be kept dry in winter at a minimum of 5-7C and kept bone dry from November to March when it can be watered again. If a relatively small plant it can be stored with all its foliage on but when taller most of the foliage can be removed after the plant has been dug up, then placed in a container slightly larger than the stem base – it does not mind its roots being cut off!

Sometimes when overwintering it can get a condition commonly known as ‘the strangles’, where the central leaf stalk becomes twisted. When this happens the plant can be cut to the ground and kept dry, where it will subsequently produce dozens of pups which will appear around the base. These can be propagated by removing with a section of the base plate.

If overwintering is not possible give it to a friend and start again as it is not particular expensive! Click here to find out how to care for banana plants, or how to over winter banana plants.

Other great banana trees or banana plants to grow and buy in the UK are of course the Musa BasjooEnsete ventricosum ‘Maurelii’ – Red Abyssinian Ethiopian bananaMusa lasiocarpaMusa Sikkimensis and Musa Acuminata Dwarf Cavendish.

Where to buy Ensete in the UK

Ensete Ventricosum Maurelii – A Striking Ornamental Addition to Your Garden

Ensete Ventricosum Maurelii, commonly known as the Red Abyssinian Banana or Ethiopian Banana, is a stunning ornamental plant celebrated for its striking appearance and tropical charm. This fast-growing banana relative boasts massive, paddle-shaped leaves and vibrant red coloration, making it a popular choice for gardeners and plant enthusiasts. In this article, we will explore the features, care, and significance of Ensete Ventricosum Maurelii, as well as tips for successful cultivation.

Origins and Characteristics

The Ensete Ventricosum species is native to Ethiopia and other parts of East Africa, where it plays a crucial role in local culture and agriculture. The Maurelii cultivar, in particular, is cherished for its distinct red hue. This eye-catching plant can reach heights of up to 15 feet or more, with its thick, arching leaves displaying a prominent red midrib and leaf margins ranging from red to burgundy. The Red Abyssinian Banana is primarily grown for its aesthetic value, although it produces a starchy, banana-like fruit that is a staple food in Ethiopia (You won’t get fruit if growing in the UK though!)

Cultivation and Care

Ensete Ventricosum Maurelii is a tropical plant that thrives in warm, sunny environments. To successfully grow this stunning plant, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Soil: Ensete Maurelii prefers well-draining soil with a slightly acidic pH of 6.0 to 6.5. Adding organic matter, such as compost, can help improve soil quality and drainage.
  • Light: This plant thrives in full sun but can tolerate partial shade. To achieve optimal growth and coloration, provide your Ensete Maurelii with at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily.
  • Water: Keep the soil consistently moist, but not waterlogged. Overwatering can lead to root rot, while underwatering may cause the leaves to wilt or turn yellow.
  • Fertilisation: Regular feeding during the growing season (spring through summer) is essential for the Red Abyssinian Banana. Use a balanced, slow-release fertiliser to provide the plant with the nutrients it needs to flourish.
  • Winter Care: Ensete Maurelii is not frost-tolerant and should be protected from freezing temperatures. In colder climates, consider growing the plant in a large container and moving it indoors or to a heated greenhouse during winter – Read more about overwintering banana plants here


Unlike the more common Musa banana plants, Ensete Ventricosum does not produce offshoots, or “pups,” for propagation. Instead, propagation is typically achieved through seeds. Fresh seeds tend to have the highest germination rates, and it is recommended to soak the seeds in warm water for 24 hours before sowing. Maintain a consistent temperature of 25-30 degrees Celsius (77-86 degrees Fahrenheit) and keep the soil moist to encourage germination, which may take several weeks.

Landscape Use

The Ensete Ventricosum Maurelii’s dramatic appearance and bold coloration make it an ideal focal point in any garden. It can be used as a specimen plant or combined with other tropical plants to create a lush, exotic garden oasis. Additionally, the Red Abyssinian Banana works well in large containers, making it a striking addition to patios, balconies, or poolside areas.


Ensete Ventricosum Maurelii is an exceptional ornamental plant that adds a touch of tropical elegance to any landscape. With proper care and attention, this captivating plant can thrive and serve

Abyssinian Banana (also Ensete Ventricosum Maurelii)

The Abyssinian Banana (Ensete Ventricosum) is a monocarpic perennial, which means it flowers once in its lifetime before dying. The plant’s life cycle typically spans five to eight years, with the flowering stage occurring towards the end. The flower is a magnificent inflorescence that emerges from the plant’s centre, bearing both male and female flowers. The resulting fruit is filled with numerous seeds, and while it resembles a banana, it is not sweet or palatable like the common banana. The plant’s primary purpose in its native habitat is agricultural, where its fibrous trunk and starchy fruit serve as essential sources of sustenance and materials for local communities.

In the world of ornamental gardening, the Abyssinian Banana has become increasingly popular for its ability to introduce a touch of the tropics to gardens outside its native range. Its immense leaves create a stunning visual impact, while the plant’s fast growth rate enables it to quickly establish itself in a garden setting. The Abyssinian Banana can be grown as a specimen plant or combined with other tropical or exotic plants to create a lush, jungle-like atmosphere.

Red Banana Plant UK (also Ensete Ventricosum Maurelii)

The Red Banana Plant, particularly the Ensete Ventricosum Maurelii cultivar, has captured the attention of gardeners across the UK. Its unique red to burgundy foliage provides a dramatic contrast to traditional green foliage found in most gardens. In the UK, the Red Banana Plant is primarily grown as an ornamental plant due to its striking appearance and ability to create a sense of tropical ambiance.

To successfully grow the Red Banana Plant in the UK, it is crucial to provide proper care and protection during the colder months.

In addition to the Ensete Ventricosum Maurelii, other red banana plant varieties are also gaining popularity in the UK. These include the Musa ‘Siam Ruby,’ known for its ruby-red leaves with green speckling, and the Musa ‘Zebrina,’ featuring red and green striped foliage. Regardless of the specific variety, the red banana plant’s bold coloration and tropical allure have made it a highly sought-after addition to UK gardens.


Last Modified: October 11, 2023