Heliconia this genus includes about 150 species of plants from the family of banana (Heliconiaceae), which are mostly distributed in tropical America, but at the same time are successfully cultivated for home care.
Herbaceous perennials, reaching up to 3 meters in height. In appearance, they are somewhat reminiscent of bananas, they have large rhizomes, aerial shortened stems, with fairly large leaves. Outwardly, they resemble the foliage of bananas, which in tall varieties reach 3 meters in length and 1 meter in width. Due to their development in a narrow plane of the stem, they, like in bananas, are somewhat asymmetrical with the same venation.
The difference between Heliconia and a banana is the leaves arranged in two rows. The growth of this plant occurs quite quickly and already in the second year of cultivation, a flowering period occurs. During the transition to flowering, the stems that remain shortened in the vegetative phase quickly grow inside the false stem, bringing the inflorescence to the top, which in some representatives is located vertically, and in other cases it hangs down or acquires a horizontal position.
On the axis there are double-row lateral inflorescences of the curl type, which are clothed in pointed, scaphoid and large leaves. Most often they have an unusually bright color: orange, red, yellow and pink, but in some cases the color of the edges can change to a more contrasting one.
There are also undersized varieties, the inflorescences of which reach up to 30 centimeters and bear only 4-5 cover leaves. The large size of inflorescences from 1 to 1.5 meters in large varieties is not uncommon. Plants are highly decorative, and several types of them are known in our gardening.
Locals even came up with special names for some forms of heliconia, for example, for its variegated colors, this plant was called “parrot flower “, and for the unusual shape of the flower, it was named “lobster claw“.
This genus has mixed in itself many shades: yellow, orange, red and white. An interesting fact is that the seeds of some heliconias have the color of a chameleon, initially they have an orange tint, and a little later it turns blue.
Heliconia home care
Heliconia is a rather demanding plant for home care, it feels great and develops under conditions as close as possible to its habitat.
The easiest way to provide such care is in a specially designed home greenhouse. In this case, it is necessary to observe the temperature regime, which should not be lower than 18 degrees and maintain a constant air humidity in the aisle of 75-80 percent.
At any time of the year, they need bright diffused lighting, although short-term exposure to direct sunlight is possible. Feels good near east and west windows. If the selected location is near a south-facing window, the plant must be shaded out of direct sunlight.
Heliconias are thermophilic plants and for this reason, all year round, it needs to provide a temperature regime of 22 to 26 degrees, while if it is not possible to keep such a temperature in winter, it can be slightly lowered, but not lower than 18 degrees.
This exotic plant loves fresh air, but does not tolerate drafts, for this reason the room must be ventilated, but this must be done very carefully.
Transplant and fertilization for Heliconia
The annual transplantation of heliconia into the nutrient soil is also necessary in the spring. The optimal composition of the soil is a mixture of 2 parts of leafy soil, 1 part of humus soil, 1 part of turf and 1 part of sand.
For the free development of the root system, it is necessary to increase the width of the dishes by about 5 centimeters with each transplant. Larger specimens are best planted in tubs with good drainage.
Top dressing is carried out from March to September, with complex mineral fertilizers once a month. Additional feeding with organic matter is also permissible. In autumn and winter, the plants are not fed.
Watering and humidity
In the spring and summer periods, the plant is provided with abundant watering, as the top layer of the soil dries up. In winter, watering is reduced to moderate, but the earthen coma should not be allowed to dry out.
Water for irrigation should be settled and soft. Most gardeners in winter reduce watering of the heliconia plant, to rare. This is due to the fact that overflow in the autumn-winter period is very dangerous for the plant, this can provoke rotting of the root system.
It is useful to ensure high humidity throughout the year by spraying with filtered or well-separated water. A place for growing a plant must also be selected with the maximum air humidity.
If there is no such place, spraying air will be a necessary procedure once twice a day. Using some of the wisdom of gardening at home, you can increase the plant’s moisture content by placing it on a pallet with wet expanded clay, moss or pebbles, while the bottom should not touch the water. Heliconia feels good in warm greenhouses or hotbeds.
Reproduction of the Heliconia flower by seeds and vegetatively
When a plant propagates, the seeds are germinated after soaking them in warm, almost hot water, approximately 60-70 degrees. It is best to soak in a thermos for 48-72 hours, periodically changing the water to fresh water at the initial temperature.
Then sow the seeds into a mixture of 1 part of leafy soil, 2 parts of sod land, 1 part of humus earth and 0.5 part of sand, adding a small portion of phytosporin to the mixture. At the same time, temperatures are maintained at 25 degrees and above, covering the crops with foil. Periodically spray and ventilate the bowl with seedlings. Seeds have uneven germination and can last up to 4 months.
When heliconia is propagated in a vegetative way: by layering or dividing the bush, rooting occurs quickly enough. Young plants should be planted in 11 cm pots. Provide abundant watering and maintenance at a temperature of 20 degrees.
After the plant is wrapped around an earthen ball, ensure transfer to pots 15-16 centimeters. The substrate is composed according to the same scheme as in the propagation of heliconia by seeds. Gradually, as the young plants grow and braid an earthen coma, increase both the depth and the diameter of the dishes by 5-10 centimeters.
- Lack of moisture contributes to the falling and curling of the leaves.
- With a lack of sunlight, a dull color of foliage and weak shoots are noticed.
- Can be damaged by spider mites, mealybugs, whiteflies and scabies.
Types and varieties of heliconia
Is most often found in shady gorges and foothills from Brazil to Mexico. The plant reaches up to 3 meters in height, has large leaves reaching 1.2 meters in length and 30-45 centimeters in width. The inflorescences are multi-flowered and also of impressive size, their length reaches up to 60 centimeters, and up to 30 centimeters wide, they emerge from the sheaths of a yellowish-red color. Inflorescences of a yellowish or green shade with orange-red opaque leaves with a yellow apex.
Is most often found in Brazil in the foothills with high humidity. The plant reaches about 1 meter in height, has oblong-lanceolate, pointed, wedge-shaped leaves at the base, which reach 40-55 centimeters in length and 6.5-10 centimeters in width. They have a high decorative appearance and look spectacular because of the flowers arranged in two rows.
Is found in shady gorges with high humidity in Colombia. Reaches up to 2 meters in height and has pointed, oblong-oval leaves, reaching up to 30 centimeters in length and 7-10 centimeters in width, the upper part of the leaf is painted in a metallic green color, in the middle there is a developed white vein from which the lateral cirrus of such the same vein color, from the bottom of the leaf has a bright red color. Petioles are long with a reddish shade. The leaves covering the inflorescence are green, and the flowers are highly decorative red.