The pendant red and yellow bracts of Heliconia rostrata make it one of the most rewarding tropical plants you can grow. It is commonly called the lobster claw plant because of the shape of its flower bracts which can appear at any time during the growing season.
The hanging inflorescences of this pendant Heliconia may be up to 3 feet long.
The bracts are mostly red but turn yellow at the tips. Long lasting when cut, they are excellent additions to floral arrangements.
The dramatic leaves are also useful in the vase.
In fact, another name for it is False Bird of Paradise.
Heliconia rostrata grows from underground tubers, producing canes as tall as 8 feet. The tubers multiply below ground and will form a clump in time. The blooms form on year-old canes so avoid removing canes that have not yet flowered.
Heliconias For Sale
Plant tubers or potted plants away from high winds in a semi-shady spot. They need some sun but full, all-day sun may be too much.
Give the plants a slow release fertilizer in the spring. Then use a liquid fertilizer monthly throughout spring and summer.
Heliconia Plant Care Tip: If your plant becomes spindly and begins to bloom poorly, you are not feeding it enough.
After they bloom, canes should be cut to the ground.
Heliconia clumps need to be dug up and divided every few years or they will loose vigor. Replenish the soil with rich organic compost and fertilizer before replanting the divisions.
Heliconia rostrata is native to Central and South America, the Caribbean and the South Pacific. This tender perennial can only be grown in the ground in zone 9b or warmer. In colder zones grow them in pots and protect them during the winter.
Heliconia (center), bird of paradise and Anthurium flowers in an arrangement.
Heliconias and gingers are the most striking flowers in this arrangement.
The bold foliage at the base comes from the swiss cheese plant and variegated pothos which grows to mammoth proportions when allowed to climb.
Ornamental Ginger Plant
You can see the similarities in this photo. Both plants grow from underground rhizomes. Both flower on tall, upright stalks which die after blooming. Both sport broad, bright to dark green leaves that are longer than they are wide.
Heliconias and gingers enjoy similar growing conditions and their flowers look great together in the landscape as well as in the vase.