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Heliconia rostrata

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Zone 10 or Houseplant

Heliconia is a herbaceous perennial related to plants such as banana and Traveler's tree. Native to Northern South America and the West Indies, . there are likely 200-250 named varieties

Here's Heliconia angusta

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Common names for heliconias abound, e.g.

  • lobster claw
  • wild plantain
  • flowering banana
  • parrot's flower
  • macaw flower
  • false bird-of-paradise

None of these common names are meaningful to identify a variety of heliconia

What you see in the picture is not a flower which in heliconias are small. What you see is the heliconia's waxy bract that produces vivid colors and complex tropical shapes, much like bougainvillea flowers are small and mostly insignificant

These inflorescences may be held erect or be pendent. The most common bract colors are reds, yellows and oranges. However, some types are grown only for their colorful leaves. Stem and leaf growth is always vertical with leaves pointed up

Depending on variety, heliconias want shade, partial shade or full sun. The soil must be moist and very fertile for proper growth and health.  It is best to plant heliconias with wind protection. Provide plenty of water but be sure of good drainage

Heliconias vary greatly in plant size. Some like Heliconia stricta stay low at about 2 feet, while others such as Heliconia caribeae reach 10 feet or more. Most are in between at 4-6 feet

When planting, keep size in mind so your heliconia has room to expand, so larger spaces are suggested. To propagate, divide the underground rhizomes and re-plant

Named varieties seen in South Florida include:

  • Heliconia 'Andromeda Red'
  • Heliconia angusta, pic
  • Heliconia augusta - Holiday Heliconia
  • Heliconia bicolor
  • Heliconia bicolor 'Holiday'
  • Heliconia bihai 'Lobster Claw'
  • Heliconia 'Butterfield', pic
  • Heliconia caribaea
  • Heliconia caribaea 'Brazillian Bomber'
  • Heliconia caribaea purpurea
  • Heliconia caribaea 'Richmond Red'
  • Heliconia caribaea x bihai 'Criswick'
  • Heliconia caribaea x bihai 'Jacquinii'
  • Heliconia collinsiana
  • Heliconia 'Golden Torch'
  • Heliconia Golden Torch Nicky'
  • Heliconia 'Hot Rio Nights'
  • Heliconia 'Kaleidoscope'
  • Heliconia latispatha
  • Heliconia latispatha 'Yellow Gyro'
  • Heliconia librara, pic
  • Heliconia lingulata - Yellow
  • Heliconia lingulata 'Sothern Cross'
  • Heliconia orthotricha
  • Heliconia orthotricha 'Flash'
  • Heliconia 'Pedro Ortiz', pic
  • Heliconia psittacorum 'Andromeda'
  • Heliconia psittacorum 'Choconiana', pic
  • Heliconia psittacorum 'Flamingo'
  • Heliconia psittacorum 'Gold Torch'
  • Heliconia psittacorum 'Lady Di'
  • Heliconia psittacorum 'Petra'
  • Heliconia psittacorum 'Pinky'
  • Heliconia psittacorum 'Sassy'
  • Heliconia psittacorum 'Sherbert'
  • Heliconia rauliniana, Pic #1  #2  #3
  • Heliconia rosrata (Lobster Claw), pic
  • Heliconia rostrata 'Mischualli'
  • Heliconia rostrata 'Black Stem', Pic #1  #2
  • Heliconia stricta, pic
  • Heliconia stricta 'Dimples'
  • Heliconia stricta 'Dorado Gold'
  • Heliconia stricta "Firebird', pic
  • Heliconia stricta 'Jamaica Dwarf'
  • Heliconia stricta 'Tagami'
  • Heliconia 'Tropical'
  • Heliconia x nickeriensis
  • Heliconia x pabstii, pic
  • Heliconia x rauliniana
  • Heliconia angiospermum - Scorpion Tail