Heliconia in trouble

fleurkatDecember 22, 2004

I've been keeping my heliconia in a cool spot indoors. The other day I noticed the leaves are curling from the sides inward towards the center. The soil was semi moist so I tried watering it yesterday but the leaves are still curled. Does anyone know what the cause could be? When my other gingers needed watering they would do this but within hours of watering the leaves would unfold.

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rayandgwenn(z11 Puerto Rico)


Heliconias and Gingers are different beasts.

My first question to you would be has this heliconia bloomed on the shoot/stem that has the curling leaves?

If the answer is Yes, then that stem is simply completing it's lifecycle. Heliconias only bloom once per stem/shoot. Once the bloom has faded (or been cut off), the stem that supported that inflorescence (and all of its leaves) will die back to the ground. If the plant is healthy, there will already be one or more new "eyes" growing from the rhizome. These eyes will emerge as the next season's growth.

If the stem in question as not yet flowered, I would suspect that the soil may be too wet. Heliconias like to be moist but (most) cannot tolerate wet conditions. Make sure the soil is not soggy or standing in water.

Also, you mention that it's in a "cool" spot. Just how cool? Most will not tolerate conditions below 50 degrees F.

I also assume that this plant is in a container. What type of heliconia is it? Does it need to be re-potted? If it is dying back due to having flowered, now may be a good time to dump it out of the container and see if it's going to outgrow the container in the next season. Who knows, it may even be a good time to divide it!

Hope this helps


    Bookmark   December 23, 2004 at 8:49AM
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danbo(8b MS Coast)

I want to add to what Ray said on cool. I've been trying to get heliconia through the winter for several year. They love our hot humid summers but hate our "cold" winters here on the gulf coast.

I have a small indoor pool and bring them into the room with the pool every fall. Yet I still have only a 50/50 shot at them getting through the winter. I lost my lobster claw after keeping it 2 years, by forgetting to close the window next to it, one cold night..

    Bookmark   December 23, 2004 at 4:38PM
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Thanks for the help. I've taken the plant in to a warmer spot. I'll divide the rhizomes this Sunday and repot. Hopefully that will sort it out. Oddly my Alpinia and Elletaria do fine in the cold hall with temps falling to 40 or below. Guess Heliconias aren't as hardy.


    Bookmark   December 23, 2004 at 9:30PM
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rayandgwenn(z11 Puerto Rico)

That's true. Many gingers tolerate the cold better than most heliconias.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2004 at 7:05AM
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danbo(8b MS Coast)

My alpina will handle freezes. Then come back in the spring.

The only problem with this. Seems alpina blooms on second year growth. So. My alpina looks nice in summer. But no flowers.

My father who lives in a slightly warmwer area had his booming almost every year. But not mine. I'm not sure if it's the varity. He has his planted in a more sheltered area. His wer more mature and developed. Or the slightly colder winters here make the difference.

I've planted some right up against the house on the east side. Let's see if these bloom.

    Bookmark   December 25, 2004 at 6:47PM
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suzannie(zn6 pa)

Hi Fleurkat,

I think moving it to a warmer spot will uncurl the leaves. That's what mine does.


    Bookmark   January 16, 2005 at 8:54AM
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I brought the plant into my warm apt and the leaves turned brown and died. I knokced it out of its pot and rhizomes looked fine. I repotted into a larger pot so now its a matter of wait and see. Thanks for the help.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2005 at 9:19PM
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gaza(10 la CA)

unfortunatly, when the leaves curl,its the end!!
at this time of year, its bad news.
some times,when the sun is on them,they do this,but mostly,it is a sign things are dying below ground.
i have many varieties,and have learnt from MANY failures[hundreds of dollars!!]
that if the curl happens,kiss goodbye to the plant above ground!
some times they will reshoot, but not very often in marginal climates

    Bookmark   February 26, 2005 at 11:25PM
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If you're growing them up north and in a sunny window, try to keep them in black pots. The pots, soil and roots get warmer in the sunlight.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2005 at 2:53PM
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I think you are right Gaza. I knocked it out of its pot today and saw no new growth. A lot of the roots were rotten but the rhizomes were hard. Looks like its headed for the compost heap. If Home Depot has another this summer I'll try again unless someone can spare a rhizmome?

    Bookmark   March 13, 2005 at 3:13PM
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