The Heliconia consists of over one hundred species of plants native to tropical America.
Their native growth habit closely resembles that of the Banana or Canna, which is not suprising considering that Heliconias are a member of the Banana family.
This is a fascinating plant that can grow indoors but many people do not know exactly how to grow Heliconia and thus this article is going to help you understand their cultural needs.
Description Of A Heliconia
The smooth, colorfully-veined leaves and striking long-lasting inflorescences are one of the main attractions of this species.
The inflorescences can either face upward or arch downward, and are commonly found in color combinations of yellow, orange, red and green.
The inflorescence is composed of triangular bracts in two ranks thus causing it to sometimes be referred to as a Lobster Claw.
The brightly colored bracts, which vary in length from a few inches to several feet, are not the true flowers of this plant though.
You will see those peeping out from the bracts.
They prefer to grow in large clumps and have extremely large leaves which is one reason why many people don’t consider growing them indoors, but it can be done.
Light And Humidity Requirements For Heliconia
The Heliconia prefers bright, indirect light, high humidity, preferably on a humidity tray, and require a large pot with plenty of space to grow.
They seem to grow rapidly given the proper conditions and are easily divided by their rhizomes.
Heliconia Soil Preferences
Heliconia prefer soil that is slightly acidic.
When they are grown in alkaline soil or soil that is not acidic enough, the leaves turn yellow or even white.
This is a sign of iron deficiency and needs to be addressed.
The soil needs to drain well but it must be able to retain moisture.
Heliconia do not like to dry out.
They also prefer soil that is fertile.
When flowers or leaves begin to die, go ahead and remove them.
Once you have decided to grow Heliconias, you should be aware of a fungus that plagues Heliconias from the genus Marasmius, which will cause the rhizome to rot.
The symptoms of Maramius infection are a brown, dry rot of the rhizomes or the underground stems.
If the rhizome is older, they will be fibrous and easily fall apart.
The younger sections of the rhizomes that are affected will have soft brown rotten spots.
Sometimes it will be necessary to cut the rhizome open before you will be able to observe this.
An easy way to observe evidence of this fungus on rotted plants will be a white threadlike growth or the appearance of small mushrooms.
Brown sheath rot can also occur, and the infected plants will fail to grow and thrive as if they were suffering from a nutritional deficiency.
The best way to remedy this problem is to completely destroy infected plants and rhizomes.
This genus is easily spread from plant to plant and no known treatment, including heat, has been found to be effective at this time.
Not only are heliconias at risk for this disease, but also affected are gingers and bananas.
Do not put the infected parts into your compost bin either, as this will only spread the problem.
These are beautiful plants to grow to brighten up your garden and home, and do not overlook them just because they may seem difficult.
As with every other plant, they can be infected.
As with every other plant proper care can be the greatest assest in keeping your Heliconia healthy and thriving.