A Heliconia as a houseplant or as cut flowers
The Heliconia houseplant has striking colored bracts. Bracts that resemble the flower but the flowers are inside. Flowers that are visited by the hummingbird birds and that provide fertilization. The hummingbird bird that is found in tropical countries where the Heliconia is native. The Heliconia has leaves that resemble the leaf of the banana plant and that is why the Heliconia has also been included in the banana family for decades. Until the family Heliconia was classified as the only genus in the family Heliconiaceae in 2003.
- Description Helicona
- Food source
The Heliconia is a family of the Heliconiaceae. The Heliconia is also called lobster claws, false bird of paradise flower or beak heliconia. The growth and inflorescence of the plant is comparable to genera such as the Strelitzia (bird of paradise flower), Canna and Muscacea (banana). An inflorescence with brightly colored bracts and large green leaves on long petioles. The Heliconia genus has about fifty species and countless cultivars. The different species are native to tropical South America and the Pacific Islands west of Indonesia. In the past, the genus Heliconia belonged to the family Musaceae (banana family) but was classified by taxonomists (scientists in biology who are concerned with the description, classification and naming of plants) in the family Heliconiaceae in 2003. The family consists only of the genus Heliconia. This genus has about two hundred species, which are native to the tropical or subtropical regions of South America, tropical Asia and the islands west of Indonesia. The beautiful bracts with flowers are often used as cut flowers in bouquets in the Netherlands.
The evergreen perennial plant has a vigorous rhizome. Long stems with a large leaf at the top emerge from the rhizome. The colored bracts with flowers grow between the large green leaves. Bracts that point up or down. Small inconspicuous red, orange, yellow or pink flowers grow between the bracts. There are Heliconias with an upright or trailing inflorescence. The names of the plant often describe the bract (flower), such as:
- lobster bihai scissors;
- rostrata platypus;
- psittacorum parrot.
The species can be divided into two groups:
- Heliconias with hanging flowers;
- Heliconias with upright flowers.
Some common cultivars are:
- Heliconia stricta or ‘Olympic Flame’. The upright flowers are flame-shaped and orange with a yellow-green edge;
- Heliconia stricta ?? Bucky ?? with red upright flowers and red flower spike;
- Heliconia bihai (red palulu) with numerous red upright bracts that reach a total of 1.5 meters;
- Heliconia rostrata or beaked heliconia with hanging flowers downwards. Flowers consisting of 12 to 35 bright red bracts with a green-edged, yellow top;
- Heliconia schiedeana or ginger blossom with upright branching inflorescence with red bracts and yellow flowers;
- Heliconia spathocircinata with an upright inflorescence on a stem 15 to 50 centimeters long;
- Heliconia stricta ‘Dwarf Jamaican’: a cultivar of the Heliconia stricta with purple berries;
- Heliconia psittacorum or parrot banana: an inflorescence with upright 2.5 to 5 centimeter long tubular, orange to yellow-greenish flowers with a dark top.
The plants have large and beautifully colored bracts with small tubular flowers. Leaves and bracts that grow from the long stem, creating false stems.
The brightly colored bracts attract hummingbirds in their country of origin. Each Heliconia species has flowers that can accommodate the beak of only one species of hummingbird. The hummingbird which has a beak shape that fits exactly into the long tubular flowers inside the bract. The hummingbird drinks the nectar from the blooming flower and gets some pollen on the beak or back and flies it to the next Heliconia where the pollen hangs ?? to the sticky stamp. The Heliconia is fertilized and the berries with seed will start to grow. A spontaneous hybrid can also arise in this way, because sometimes a hummingbird manages to drink from a Heliconia where its beak does not fit properly. However, the hybrid and cultivated species cannot produce offspring.
In addition to a food source for hummingbirds, the Heliconia with its bracts is also a food source for other animals such as mosquitoes and frogs. Water can remain in the bract like in a mini pond. Mosquitoes and frogs find here a place to sell offspring. Frog spawn and mosquito larvae develop best in standing water.
A Heliconia prefers a light spot with a temperature between ten and thirty degrees. Do not put the plant in full sun all the time and make sure that the soil does not dry out. The plant requires high humidity and the plant needs regular spraying. Give plant food once a month and make sure that no water remains in the pot or saucer. If the soil comes up from the pot after about two years, the plant needs a new and larger pot. Preferably use palm soil for this. The Heliconia is an ideal patio plant in the summer, but it should be indoors as soon as it drops below ten degrees at night.
In addition to the Heliconia with the upright orange bracts with a yellow-green edge, new types of Heliconia have been cultivated all the time that are for sale as cut flowers. Cut flowers with the name such as:
- Heliconia Black Magic with a beautiful burgundy color;
- Caribea Yellow with a wonderful yellow color;
- Heliconia Emerald with green flowers:
- Heliconia Sheet She Kong with drooping hairy pink / red bracts;
- She pink with a beautiful pink color and slightly hairy and soft bracts;
- Heliconia Psittacorum Sassy with slender pink bracts.