My Heliconia Struggle

Some excellent Heliconia advice based on personal experience, from Ian Wintle, The Giving Garden. Ian and Judy have an open garden coming up (21 & 22nd Nov) – Well worth a look!

My Heliconia Struggle

In my imagination I pictured my garden with many beautiful Heliconia’s all in flower both upright and pendant; in my mind it was certainly going to be a beautiful sight.

Over a period of time we bought over 60 different varieties, being told that all the varieties we picked would perform in the Brisbane area. We spent up to $75 for some of the better plants. All that was left was to wait for the flowers to come.
Well, we waited and waited and eventually found that only certain varieties would flower here and even then some of those would not survive a cold winter and some were runners that would eventually take over the garden.

All in all it’s been a disappointing and expensive experiment.
So, here in Birkdale with poor soil and little water I can give you some recommendations based upon my experiences which Heliconia’s will grow, and believe me if these varieties can survive in my garden they will survive in any Brisbane garden.

heliconiaHere are my recommendations:

  • Caribaea ‘kawachi’ has been a prolific flowerer.
  • Bihai ‘lobster claw’s’ one & two have also been good.
  • Bihai ‘yellow dancer’ has been good.
  • Orthotricas are perhaps my favourite heliconia, but are temperamental, hate the cold and do not reproduce well here, unfortunately we have now lost all of these due to a cold winter in 2014.
  • Augustas grow well ‘red holiday’ and ‘yellow christmas’.
  • The best of all Rostrata ‘parrots beak’, thank goodness it flowers well; in my opinion when in flower it is the most spectacular heliconia of all, it does get a bit ragged during winter but will come back.
  • Stricta ‘Jamaican dwarf’ has done well and always flowers.
  • Bihai ‘chocolate dancer’ is good.
  • Papsiana is good, also Hot Rio Nights.
  • Lingulata is one of my favourites, has a great yellow flower and has survived for a number of years the Red Tip version is also good.
  • Hirsuta ‘costa flores’ is a great looking heliconia and flowered spectacularly for me last year but was hit especially hard last winter’s cold, I am trying again, this time in a more sheltered position.
  • I soon dug out the strictas with the exception of ‘Jamaican Dwarf’ as they were ‘travellers’.
  • I will not plant any psittacorum’s as most tend to travel.
  • Richmond red foliage grows well but has never flowered.
  • Chartacea ‘extra sexy’ and ‘sexy pink’ are not worth trying, not at all cold tolerant.

I am not saying that given the right circumstances some of the ones that will not grow for me will not grow else where in Brisbane, given better soil than ours, plenty of water and a sheltered position they may do very well; all you can do is to keep trying.   Hope this is of some help

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