How To Grow Heliconias
Heliconias Are The Bold, Beautiful Diva Of The Tropical Garden
A tropical garden is an eden of vibrant colour and exotic scents, shapes and textures, but it is only complete with an abundance of colourful heliconias.
The heliconia flower can be red, orange, pink, yellow or green, and though not officially regarded as the diva of the tropical garden, it adds such drama and vibrancy, that it is unrivalled as the lead role on the tropical stage.
The heliconia plant ranges in size from half a metre to six metres tall. They thrive in the alternating blend of tropical sun and rain, and will perform best in a rich, well-drained, fertilised soil. They are easy to grow in these conditions, to the extent that they will demand dedicated tending to actually keep them from overtaking and dominating the garden.
The Tropical Gardener's Bible For Growing Heliconias
I have this book in my library, with many a dog-eared page and a few garden soil smudged pages as well. I cannot imagine there is anything you need to know or would want to know about heliconias that cannot be found in this book. It truly is the heliconia lover's bible.
The book is filled with colour photographs to identify the different types of heliconias and their different features, including their preferred growing conditions.
If you are interested in more detailed information about growing heliconias than I offer in this article, then this is your must-have reference book.
Soil Preparation For Heliconias
How To Prepare A Healthy Growing Environment For Heliconias
- Prepare your tropical garden
- Heliconias love moist, hot, humid conditions
- Some heliconias grow in full sun and others prefer filtered sun or shade, so check which conditions will suit your chosen variety of heliconia, and prepare the most suitable garden position accordingly
- Allow good drainage - roots can get too wet and will rot if the soil is too dense
- Allow space for spreading - there are clumping and spreading heliconias, but all types will multiply quite quickly
- Spread chicken pellet fertiliser into the soil before planting
- Have organic mulch on standby to cover the soil (about five centimetres deep) once heliconias are planted - this will continually enrich the soil and prevent weed growth
The Right Variety Of Heliconias
How To Choose The Best Growing Position For Heliconias
- Some heliconias can grow as tall as six metres tall, so be careful and fully understand what you are planting where, to achieve the greatest growing success and aesthetic appeal in your garden
- Heliconias tend to grow taller in the shade
- Some will only tolerate sun-filtered or shaded conditions, whilst others demand full sun
- Some clump and some spread, but all types will rapidly multiply to create a lush, tropical garden affect quite quickly
- Some flowers will head straight for the sun, whilst others will droop in a pendant style
- There are over 100 species of heliconia, so you will have many choices and will need to research and select what is best for your garden
Heliconia Seeds Or Rhizomes?
Why You Should Plant Heliconia Rhizomes Instead Of Seeds
- Heliconias grow quicker from rhizome than seed, so if you are an impatient gardener as I am, this will deliver quicker results and quicker flowers
- Rhizomes are the running roots with sprouting nodules showing slightly above ground
- Rhizome propagation is the easiest and most common method
- Rhizomes usually sprout within two months of planting
- Smaller species heliconias will usually flower within six months of propagation from rhizome
- New plants need lots of water and then only as the soil begins to dry out
- Established heliconias require volumes of water!
- Use chicken pellet fertiliser or slow release fertiliser at planting time
- Cover the ground with up to five centimetres of good organic mulch after planting to protect the roots from burning in the hot sun, to maintain moisture levels of the soil, and to prevent weed growth
- Mulch will enrich the soil as it breaks down and is best to be topped up at least every six months
Heliconias Inside The Home
Heliconias Make Spectacular Indoor Flower Arrangements
You can look forward to displaying magnificent heliconia arrangements in your home year round once your garden is up and growing. I can have multiple vases of heliconias in my house and outdoor living areas at any one time - sometimes I cheat with bunches purchased from the local markets to augment my own, but most of them are fresh straight from my garden to the vase!
Display heliconias in tall glass vases, Chinese porcelain vases or earthenware type vases. Just as they are in the garden, they are tall, flashy flowers that will demand centre of attention in your home. You can show off heliconias on their own or add fronds and leaves from your tropical garden to bulk up the arrangement. Either way, they will add immediate flair to your home.
I cannot claim this beautiful arrangement (pictured above) as mine, but was privileged to admire and photograph it in a hotel foyer on a recent trip to Bali, Indonesia.
Quick Facts About Heliconias
Native to the tropical Americas and the Pacific islands
Related to the canna, strelitzia, ginger and banana plants
They need plenty of water, sunlight and rich soil
They generally flower during the tropical wet season
Their flowers can be red, orange, pink, yellow or green
Some can grow as high as six metres tall
Heliconias Are The Queen Of The Tropical Garden
A Collection Of Beautiful Heliconias And Tropical Flowers
- Tropical Garden Inspiration
Tropical Flower, Foliage and Landscaping Inspiration on Pinterest.
Heliconias Will Grow Easily In These Red Tropical Regions
I live in Cairns, in the tiny red tip of north eastern Australia on this map, where there are perfect conditions for growing heliconias and all tropical plants.
The Cairns Botanic Gardens Boast Magnificent Heliconias
Are You A Fake Plant Or Real Plant Person?
Are You A Fake Plant Or Real Plant Person?
My fake plants died because I did not pretend to water them.— Mitch Hedberg
I Think The Heliconia Rostrata Is Stunning!
I think the Heliconia Rostrata is the most magnificent flower of all. That doesn't mean it is my favourite - the Oriental Tiger Lily is my favourite flower - but the Rostrata is definitely the most impressive tropical flower, which is why I have adopted it as the icon for my Rangoon House profile. Wherever you see this photograph online, there is a good chance I am lurking close by.
© 2014 AJ