(Lobster Claws)Heliconia, a close relative of the bird-of-paradise (Strelitzia) is an exotic plant best known in the US as a hothouse plant or cut flower. Although heliconia is usually only found in southern Florida, California, or Arizona landscapes, we are specialists at finding cold-hardy members of tropical genera and we have found one in Heliconia schiedeana.
The genus Heliconia is fairly large with up to 200 species and in growth habit is similar to its close cousins the banana (musa) and the canna lily. Heliconia plants are fairly tall for herbaceous plants and spread via rhizomes to form colonies. The exotic and colorful hummingbird-favorite flowers of heliconia are produced in clusters at the top of the plant like a canna.
Since tropical plants don't understand that they need to flower before it gets cold, Heliconia schiedeana takes its sweet time to produce a flower?often as long as two years. Temperate gardeners will have to take extreme measures to protect their heliconia, keeping it dry in winter in order to see flowers. For details, read our winter care instructions in our banana essay. When you are ready to buy heliconia for your garden, check out our online offering of heliconia for sale.