The heliconias were once considered of the musaceous genus, due to their resemblance to the banana plants; in fact, they have big leaves, long up to 100-150 cm, on long erect stems or carried by thin petioles, oval, slightly waxy, they form shrubs or ample tufts; from March to October, they produce big, very showy, panicle-shaped inflorescences, formed by rigid, waxy bracts, between which bloom small flowers. The bracts are of various colours, from silver to bright red, from yellow to fuchsia.
The inflorescences of helicony bloom at the apex of the stems, or even carried by thin, curved, hanging stems. These plants produce a fleshy rhizome, are used as indoor plants, but also in the summer beds or as cut flowers, as the inflorescences resist for weeks. In nature, these plants develop in tropical America, in some Pacific islands and in Indonesia.
The ability to cultivate a plant also depends on the many cares and attention you are able to give to it. A fundamental aspect to take into account is the exposure, i.e. the position in which the plants are placed in the house or garden.
Most of the species of helicony they like very luminous positions, even sunny, fear, however, the sudden thermal and luminous changes, therefore they are tended to be cultivated in a luminous place, but far away from the direct rays of the sun, moving them to the sun gradually during the warm months. They fear the cold, therefore they are cultivated in apartment, even if it is possible to cultivate them in the garden during the hottest months of the year when the temperatures allow it.
As far as irrigations are concerned, during the vegetative period, periodically water, when the soil is dry, avoiding excessive watering which could cause the rotting of the rhizome. During the vegetative period, provide fertilizer for flowering plants, every 15-20 days. In winter let’s water only sporadically. To be able to cultivate our plants in the best possible way, it is very important to choose the most suitable type of soil.
Each species needs particular soils that can provide the necessary sustenance to the plants as each variety has specific needs. To cultivate our heliconias, use a mixture of universal soil, soft and light, with equal amounts of sand, to increase drainage. Let’s remember that the rhizome should not be placed too deep in the ground, but only slightly covered.
Reproducing our plants is not difficult, just know the main methods of reproduction and have patience. If we want to obtain new heliconia plants, we must also know that the multiplication must be done during the autumn season, by division of the rhizomes. Practicing this division we remember to leave some well-developed roots for each portion practiced in such a way as to have a greater chance of success.
Heliconia are plants that are generally not attacked by pests or diseases. To avoid the development of fungal diseases, it is best to prevent them by using specific pesticides in the period before flowering.