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What is Ensete?

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  • Written By: Vasanth S.
  • Edited By: Kathryn Hulick
  • Last Modified Date: 21 September 2016
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Ensete is a plant genus that is part of the Musaceae family. It consists of about 10 species of perennial herbs that are native to the tropical regions of Africa and Asia. The large leaf stalks and cup-shaped flowers of the genus resemble the features of the banana plant. Most species are grown in containers or in greenhouses. Plants classified within this genus are prone to insect damage.

Gardeners select plants from the Ensete genus for their tropical appearance. Most species have large, paddle shaped leaves that are green on top and reddish-purple on the bottom. Also, this genus produces a fruit that is shaped like a banana. Although it isn't palatable, the ornamental effect of the fruiting plant has tremendous value in tropical-themed landscapes.

A popular species for landscapers is Ensete ventricosum. It can grow up to 13 feet (4 m) in height and width. The plant produces white flowers that are surrounded by deep red bracts. As a container plant, Ensete ventricosum can be placed in a garden or on a patio. This species can also be grown in a greenhouse.

Generally, species within the Ensete genus do not tolerate frost. For this reason, it is recommended to shelter the plants during the winter, usually by moving them indoors. In climates with a moderate winter, the plants can stay outdoors.

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For plants in this genus to do well, the soil should be fertile and well-draining. Most species can grow well in loamy or sandy soil that is either acidic or alkaline. They can tolerate both direct sunlight exposure and partial shade.

There are slightly different requirements for growing Ensete plants in a greenhouse. They generally require a loam-based compost and filtered sunlight. The plants also need adequate ventilation when grown in a greenhouse.

Most plants within the Ensete genus are propagated by seeds. It is recommended to soak the seeds in warm water for 24 hours before sowing. Usually, the best time to plant the seeds is in the spring.

A common problem with growing this genus is insect damage. Aphids, spider mites, and mealybugs are insects which feed on the foliage of most species in the Ensete genus. Aphids leave behind a sticky residue which attracts mold spores and mealybugs produce a waxy white substance in between leaf joints. Spider mites may produce webbing on leaves. Applying an insecticidal soap to the plant can remove most of the insects.

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