Tropicals forum: Heliconia

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Name: Evan
Pioneer Valley south, MA, USA (Zone 6a)
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eclayne
Sep 11, 2013 9:54 AM CST

Plants Admin

I've read about some Heliconia going dormant during cold weather but not blooming the following year. Any insight into this? Do any of them make easy care house plants? In looking at photos in our database they look a bit "formidable".
Evan
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
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dyzzypyxxy
Sep 12, 2013 11:43 AM CST
Evan, I have at least 4 types of Heliconia. They are very easy plants, and I can't see why you couldn't have them inside through the winter as nice foliage plants. They might even bloom, depending on the temperature and light conditions you give them. Mine do die right back to the ground if it gets cold in the winter, but the last two winters they have not. So indoors they will keep nice foliage as long as you keep them warm. I think the critical thing to make them bloom is LOTS of water and fert as the weather is heating up in the spring. They do love water.

They are something like gingers in growth habit, in that they put up a shoot, make leaves then if the light and temperature are right that shoot will put up a pretty, long lasting bloom. Some of mine last a month or so, and the Lobster Claws lasted nearly 2 months before they started to look really scraggly this year. After the bloom is done, you should cut the shoot right off at ground level to encourage new shoots. They multiply by underground rhizomes like Cannas.

I have one type that was here when we moved to this house, and they wander around in my shady border under the big oak tree. This year with all the rain we've had, they are popping up in the gravel pathway, and have wandered out under the fence to make a pretty display around the base of the tree. Those ones are red/orange, and about 4ft tall. Some in the shadier areas might get to 5ft. They make lovely, long lasting cut flowers, too.
Thumb of 2013-09-12/dyzzypyxxy/93aaac Thumb of 2013-09-12/dyzzypyxxy/d1eb2e

The Lobster Claws are over 6ft. tall, and have only really bloomed well for me this year. I give credit to all the rain for that.
Thumb of 2013-09-12/dyzzypyxxy/efe25a

I planted a whole bed of this smaller variety, 'Lady Di' last year. They have gone crazy, filled the bed and are popping up in the driveway this summer. They're about 30in tall in bloom and would make a fabulous house plant.
Thumb of 2013-09-12/dyzzypyxxy/0c11f3

Last, these smallest ones are two-tone orange and only about 2ft. tall. Again would make a great house plant.
Thumb of 2013-09-12/dyzzypyxxy/c7ed59







Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." โ€“Winston Churchill
Name: Evan
Pioneer Valley south, MA, USA (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member Plant Database Moderator Forum moderator Aroids Irises Celebrating Gardening: 2015
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tropicals Foliage Fan Bulbs Hummingbirder Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge)
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eclayne
Sep 13, 2013 7:43 AM CST

Plants Admin

Lots of great information and beautiful plants Elaine. Sounds like they'll be happy among Canna and ears. I like all of yours. I saw one at the greenhouse at Smith College, a lobster claw ?...which was very large. I'm happy to see they come in a variety of sizes too. I see we have Parrot's Beak (Heliconia psittacorum 'Lady Di') in the DB, a beauty.
Here's the one at Smith, does it look like it's starting to bloom or finished?
Evan
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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dyzzypyxxy
Sep 13, 2013 9:24 AM CST
I think that bloom is about done, Evan.

Although the flowers are fabulous, I think the Lobster Claws are fussier than the other type. I brought two huge pots of them from our other house 6 years ago, and it has taken them this long to get established and bloom nicely despite my TLC. They are not really happy with my high pH well water, which they have to suffer with in the spring and fall. So this summer, the generous rain has done what I couldn't do for them.

Greenhouse culture might be just the ticket for them. Go for a really big pot if you want to grow them in the house!
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." โ€“Winston Churchill
Name: Evan
Pioneer Valley south, MA, USA (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member Plant Database Moderator Forum moderator Aroids Irises Celebrating Gardening: 2015
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tropicals Foliage Fan Bulbs Hummingbirder Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge)
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eclayne
Sep 13, 2013 4:05 PM CST

Plants Admin

Thanks for the heads up about the Lobster Claws. Easier and smaller sounds about right to me. Big Grin
Evan
Name: Tiffany
Opp, AL (Zone 8b)
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purpleinopp
Sep 22, 2013 4:26 PM CST
I saw some of these at WM a few weeks ago and they weren't labeled. I assumed they were some kind of dwarf Cannas and didn't get any. Figured it out when I got home, and have been bummin' since. That WM isn't very close.
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