Heliconia genus (Lobster claws). These are beautiful evergreen perennials with about 100 species, which are exotic plants. They have large leaves with spikes of colourful bracts which enclose relatively insignificant flowers. Frost tender, min 18C. Needs partial shade and humus-rich, well drained soil. Water generously in the growing season and very sparingly when the plants die down in winter. Heliconias are adapted to be pollinated by butterflies and humming birds, which can extract the nectars with their long thin tongues and probosci. The flowers hang down and have various colours from bright red and yellow to brown.
C & S. America & Pacific
Grown for their spikes of colourful flowers and for the attractive foliage on younger plants.
Seed or division of rootstock in spring.
Prone to red spider mites, mealy bugs and snails. Root rot may be problematic.
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