Belle's Green House
Bring a touch of the tropics to your home by growing heliconias indoors all year round.
The fun thing about cultivating houseplants is that you can grow a variety of species that might not survive in your outdoor gardens. A great example of this are the heliconias, tropical plants that are grown outdoors in zones 9 and higher, but can be good houseplants for everyone else. The oversized foliage and striking flowers make heliconia an interesting addition to your collection.
‘Choconiana’ has bright orange flowers that rise above the foliage during the summer to fall bloom season. It makes an ideal container plant for the patio, or it may be planted in the landscape in tropical zones. Heliconia psittacorum has a shorter growth habit, and the colorful flower heads are about 4” long. It’s an easy grower that thrives in warm temperatures when given a plentiful supply of water and fertilizer.
Heliconias are native to tropical America, with nearly 200 species identified. They are sometimes called lobster-claws or false bird-of-paradise. The unusual flowers have led to widespread cultivation of these plants, and some species have naturalized in places like Florida. The flowers grow on branched stems known as inflorescences, which may stand erect or droop depending on the species. In their native habitat, heliconias are pollinated almost exclusively by hummingbirds, although a few species are known to be bat-pollinated.
Growing Heliconias indoors. Give your heliconia bright light and water it regularly, but be careful not to overwater. Let the soil almost dry out between watering, and avoid allowing heliconias to stand in water. Heliconias grow best in temperatures of at least 70 degrees F or higher, and should never be subjected to temps below 50 F. Fertilize regularly for best growth and flowering. In the warmer summer months, you can take your heliconias outdoors, where hummingbirds will enjoy the flowers.
Be aware that the wicker basket does not come with the plant, but can be purchased separately!