The snow banana tree (Ensete glaucum) isn't grown for fruit, as the name would suggest, but rather as an interesting ornamental garden addition. It has a distinctive, bulging blue-green trunk and eye-catching, large, thick, waxy leaves. When it's in flower, the showy green inflorescences (flower heads), which can grow to be up to one foot wide, are a delight and often described as looking like elephant trunks! A tropical species related to the Banana when given the right conditions, is a fast-growing, surprisingly hardy, easy-to-grow plant.
|Botanical Name||Ensete glaucum|
|Common Name||Snow banana|
|Mature Size||Up to 15 ft. tall|
|Sun Exposure||Full, partial|
|Soil pH||Acidic, neutral, alkaline|
|Flower Color||Green, white|
|USDA Hardiness Zones||9b-11|
Snow Banana Tree Care
Given the right conditions and temperatures, snow banana trees are very fast-growing. They like rich, moist soils and plenty of warmth, sunlight, and regular feeding. Unless you experience continual warmth into the winter, they'll need to be brought inside when the colder weather arrives. Expect their growth to slow significantly or stop altogether during this period.
Snow banana trees appreciate plenty of sunlight. If this is lacking, the color of the large leaves can be impacted. During the warmer summer months, they'll do well outside, as this will maximize the amount of natural light they receive.
Your snow banana tree will need a well-drained soil or potting mix. Overly wet conditions aren't good for this plant, but they do like to be kept moist.
Snow banana trees appreciate regular watering. They benefit from consistently moist but not waterlogged soil. Take care not to let them dry out for prolonged periods before rewatering.
Temperature and Humidity
Snow banana trees might be hardier than some other Ensete species, but they still prefer frost-free, dry, and sheltered conditions during the winter. They do best in warm, humid, tropical-type climates.
These trees are heavy feeders. Snow bananas grow fast, and it takes a lot of energy to keep their large trunk, leaves, and flowers healthy. Regular fertilization during the spring and summer will help ensure they put on their best display.
Pruning a snow banana tree should include removing the dead, browned, diseased, or pest-ridden leaves. Selectively prune branches if desired for a certain shape. There is no best season for pruning this tree, as it isn't anticipated that you'll do any heavy cutting - you'll simply remove what is already dead or dying.
Propagating Snow Banana Trees
Ensete species like the snow banana tree are known for being much more difficult to propagate than their banana (Musa) relatives. Trying to do it from cuttings or division can be exceptionally tricky.
How to Grow Snow Banana Trees From Seed
Snow banana trees are best grown from seeds. The seeds should be soaked in warm water for around 48 hours. If you don't have a propagator, you can place them on top of a warm radiator, or just make sure you regularly change or top up the water.
Sown seeds benefit from being sealed inside a bag or placed in a consistently damp paper towel to keep the humidity high. They appreciate daytime temperatures above 77 degrees Fahrenheit. Positioning them on a well-lit windowsill can be a good idea.
The seeds can take at least three months to germinate and should be well-spaced.
There have been reports of this species surviving the winter months outside in zone 7b, providing they have appropriate protection. To ensure success, heavy mulching and wrapping of the plant leaves and body would be required. If you're expecting frost, bring your Snow Banana Tree into an appropriate indoor space to ensure a better chance of survival.
Common Pests and Plant Diseases
Several common garden pests love snow banana trees. These include mealy bugs, red spider mites, and aphids. Insecticidal soaps and horticultural oil can help. Diseases common to the tree include leaf spot or leaf streak, which can both be treated through the use of fungicides.
What plants are similar to snow banana trees?
The snow banana isn't quite as tough or as readily available as one of its similar relatives—the Abyssinian banana (Ensete ventricosum).
How long can the snow banana tree live?
These trees can often live up to 10 years with the proper care and environment.
Can snow banana trees grow indoors?
While these can be grown in containers, keep in mind that in-ground planting in the proper zones is best. These trees will need a large pot and become rather heavy, so moving them around the house could be a chore. That said, if you do choose to grow a snow banana tree indoors, make sure it gets adequate sunlight, proper temperatures, and high humidity.