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Heliconia

Lobster-Claw, False Bird-of-Paradise

Perennials, Flowers

More than 100 species of tropical plants from Central and South America and the southwest Pacific populate this genus. They are grown for their large, showy, waxy flower clusters made up of brightly colored bracts; the small true flowers peep out from the bracts. Clusters may be erect or drooping, from a few inches to several feet in length; spectacular in flower arrangements. In growth habit, the plants resemble banana. Oblong to spoon-shaped evergreen leaves are large, and plants form sizable clumps that keep increasing with age.

Heliconias grow best with rich soil, heavy feeding, and plenty of water—all of which will keep the clump expanding. Cut away stems that have flowered to make room for new growth. In areas with frosts, grow plants in tubs and shelter from winter cold. Potted plants can bloom at anytime; those in the ground flower in spring and summer.

Heliconia angusta (photo courtesy of Doreen L. Wynja)
Heliconia angusta (photo courtesy of Doreen L. Wynja)

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Heliconia angusta

Grows to 4–10 ft. tall, with leaves to 3 ft. long. Erect flower clusters to 2 1/2 ft. long. Yellow or orange to vermilion or scarlet bracts; white or pale yellow flowers.

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