Have you ever seen bright orange-colored flowers that are long with erect or drooping panicles? They resemble the flowers we know as bird of paradise, but they are far from similar. These are Heliconia flowers that are also known as false bird-of-paradise, lobster-claws, or wild plantains. These plants are native to tropical Americas and the Pacific ocean islands of Indonesia. They are known for their beautiful, brightly-colored flowering bracts.
Closely related to banana plants, this flowering plant is normally about 6 to 10 feet in height. It is also known for its beautiful leaves that are oblong in shape. The leaf placement is opposite one another on non-woody petioles. The bright flowers are actually waxy bracts that contain small, true flowers. The plants have a life span of about 3 to 4 years.
Caring for Heliconia
These plants are rhizomatous and develop adventitious roots. They are non-woody plants or herbaceous. They form a pseudostem by overlapping leaf petioles that help support the flowers. A single stem can flower only once. After the flower wilts away the stem dries up. Keeping in mind their native humid tropical climate, you should try and provide the plant with a similar condition to grow in.
For this plant, it is important that the soil is well drained and rich in organic matter. You can use garden loam mixed with compost, a combination that these plants thrive on. They need at least 6 hours of sunlight daily. This encourages the growth of the plant.
You should water the plant regularly; at least once in the morning and once in the evening. Never ever let the water dry out. This is the reason you need well-drained soil or else your plant may rot in stagnant water. You need to fertilize your plant well, and remember that they need bone meal to grow. You can also use an NPK fertilizer in the ratio of 13:5:13.
Prune dead stems and leaves. Cut those stems that are close to the ground. The stumps should be removed by pulling them out of the soil when they are dry. Propagation can be carried out by using rhizomes. You can plant the rhizomes in soil by placing it as deep as the original plant. The marking on the rhizomes should help you determine the proper depth at which it should be placed. Cover the stalks with plastic and secure it with rubber bands. This will help prevent water from entering the rhizomes.
These plants are real beauties that will draw attention to your garden. Brighten up your garden with beautiful false bird-of-paradise plants to give it some vivacity.