Exotic Tropical Heliconia Plants
Heliconia plants make bold statements in gardens with their unusual flowers. Heliconia is a genus of tropical flowering plants that are notable for the presence of large brilliantly colored bracts, or highly modified leaves, which hide the narrow flowers. They have a distinctive appearance that evokes the tropics for many people. Some nicknames for heliconia include wild plantains, lobster claws, and false bird of paradise. The heliconia is named after Mount Helicon in Greek mythology, which was the home of the muses, who were nine goddesses of the sciences and the arts. Within the genus, most of the heliconia species share common characteristics. These plants range in height from 1.5 to 15 feet (0.45 to 4.5 m) tall. The thick, stiff, vibrant green leaves are often compared to banana leaves, with an oblong shape and a length that often exceeds 3 feet (0.9 m).
When used as landscape plants, heliconias needs full to partial sun, and should be planted in well-drained soil. Soil rich in organic materials is preferable, and fertilization with a granular or soluble balanced fertilizer is recommended. It needs to be watered frequently, but shouldn’t be over watered because excessive saturation can cause the roots to rot. In areas where temperatures drop below 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4.5 degrees Celsius), they should be kept as houseplants rather than planted outside.