Louis Raymond experiments in his own gardens like

a mad scientist, searching out plants that most people have

never seen before & figuring out how to make them perform.- The Boston Globe

…Louis Raymond ensures that trees can grow in Brooklyn…

or just about any other place where concrete consumes

the dirt and skyscrapers shield the sunshine.- USA Today


NEW Trips to Take!

Myrtle's easy when the conditions are right.


NEW Plants to Try!

Louis tries to capture the exact words to describe the fleeting but deep pleasures to be found in these Summer-into-Autumn incredibles.


New Gardening to Do!

Allergic to bees? You can still have an exciting garden, full of flowers and color and wildlife.


Plant Profiles

Today in the Garden of a Lifetime: Red Abyssinian Banana



Late Summer through frost is high season for my ornamental bananas.  In the case of the Red Abyssinian, high in the literal sense, too.


I overwinter this massive species easily, by cutting it down to a stump before bringing it into the greenhouse.  By December it has already regrown to five feet tall.  In May I replant the beast in a huge terra cotta tub on the terrace.  After a Summer of warmth, water, fertilizer, and sun, it is once again the ten-foot giant you see here.


The enormous green leaves have a strong purple backing.  Add the deep-burgundy of the large central vein, and the result is a plant of peerless architectural presence in the warm-weather garden. 



The growth all begins from the base of the plant, which is really an enormous basal-leaved perennial, not a trunked species.  In a few weeks, just before killing frost, the plant will once again be sawn off to a foot, dug out of the terra cotta tub, and repotted into a remarkably small five-gallon nursery pot.




And while the huge pot—it's 30 inches in diameter—provides the necessarily large volume of soil for all the roots needed to sustain the massive top-growth, when the top is cut back to a stump, the roots can be cut back similarly.  When I dig the small stump out of the pot, I only need to dig a root ball that of same small size. 


What had been a huge specimen of Ensete maurelii enters the overwintering greenhouse the size of an old-fashioned manual typewriter, tucked under my arm.   


Here's how to grow this essential ornamental banana.


FacebookTwitterRSS Feed

Stay in touch!


Sign up for twice-monthly eNews, plus notification of new posts:


* indicates required