Showing posts from September, 2012
Giants and Dwarfs-A Tale of Heliconias- part 2- the Dwarfs 

 In the substantial Heliconia genus of 300+ species, there is a wide variance in just about all aspects of plant size and growing habits. Like bamboos, there are dwarf and giant types, spreading and clumping types. Some species are prized specimens and some are invasive weeds. In this blog, I'll look at the "dwarf" size group ( under 6 feet tall). As with many plant groups, some are very petite and fairly fragile, while some others are of modest size and quite robust. Most of these species make decent nursery plants in large containers, provided that the potting soil is rich and well drained, with an even supply of moisture. Growing this group in the ground can be easy enough, if there is wind protection, good humidity and deep soil with great drainage.  

One of the down sides to growing this group of species is their short supply; seeds and rhizomes are uncommon. There are a number of Heliconia growers…
Giants and Dwarfs- A Tale of Heliconias
Part 1- the Giants

  Heliconias are hard to resist regarding their flashy flowers and grand stature. There are 400 + species in the genus, but not all species are giant plants with brilliant flowers. There are odd combinations of color and plant size at both ends of the spectrum, but let's start with some of the larger species, with plant sizes over 6 meters tall. If you visit the wet New World tropics, you'll see these plants festooning the hillsides, and the plants look petite from a distance. The problem is that in the forested tropics, distances are deceiving; the closer you get to a "small" plant, the same effect as when approaching a mountain or volcano, the larger it gets. In many cases, it would be hard to get far enough away from a mountain Heliconia to see it clearly, since there is often a lot of plant growth around it.
Since many of the giant species grow in montane areas, often in protected valleys, they are prote…