heleconia questions

scaper_austinApril 21, 2013

Hello,
I am interested in growing some Heleconia plants. I will be growing them in large plants that will be moved into a climate controlled greenhouse over the winter. The area were I want to use them is pretty much full sun. I am wondering if anyone can recommend good varieties for full sun that bloom well during the summer months. I know there are different varieties that bloom at different times and I am looking for varieties that will bloom June, July and August. If Gingers or another spectacular tropical would fit the bill I would consider it but I would love Heliconia if there is variety that will work. Thanks for any tips.

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lac1361(z9a Lake Charles, LA)

I would recommend Rostrata(pendant inflo, my favorite), some of the medium Strictas(Sharonii, Firebird), Golden Torch (which is a Psittacorum/Spathocircinata cross), Latispatha Distans, any of the medium sized Orthotrichas. The Bihais and the Caribaeas are large varieties that would require a forklift to move them in and out of a greenhouse. Growing heliconia in containers takes a lot of work. I've grown over 50 varieties in the last 15 years and finally "ran out of gas" physically a few years ago. I grow only a handful now and they are all medium varieties that I can wheel around with my pot dolly. You need to devote 2 years of your time to this project as these heliconia only bloom on second year growth so you will need to go through a summer, a winter, and then, hopefully, a summer to see blooms; unless the spider mites invade your plants in the greenhouse. They love heliconia leaves. Good luck. My rostrata are showing blooms now and they are a real show stopper.

Steve

    Bookmark   April 22, 2013 at 10:13AM
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scaper_austin

sorry for the delay in response. Very good info. Yes I was aware of the two year delay but what about buying mature plants? Couldn't you buy plants that are a year or two old? Funny thing is I actually have a forklift to move my custom made pots in and out of my greenhouse (at a theme park) so large plants don't scare me. I see you are in Lake Charles. Both my parents are from there and I am originally from Baton Rouge.

Thanks so much,
Scape

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 10:02PM
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scaper_austin

Oh forgot to ask. Do you know of any good sources for heleconias? Thanks again.

Scape

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 10:05PM
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lac1361(z9a Lake Charles, LA)

It's very difficult to find large, mature plants other than a few Psittacorums that the big box stores will occasionally sell in the middle of the summer. I have been very fortunate over the years to have developed a close friendship with the Stokes family from New Iberia who had a tropical internet nursery. They actually still have the nursery but are shipping most of the plants out of a wholesale supplier in south Florida. Before, they would order smaller, mailable size plants, not bloom size, from this nursery. They would give me a list of the bloom size heliconia that were available and I would select those I wanted which would be included on the 18 wheeler. I could them go pick them up myself. No one I know sells bloom size heliconia. If you know of a nursery where you live that makes orders from Greendale Nursery in south Florida, you might be able to piggy-back an order of mature heliconia on to their order. That place grows really nice heliconia. They only sell to retail establishments and will not ship. Lake Charles is my home but I lived in Baton Rouge for 14 years; LSU and then a job. It's a good place to raise a family.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2013 at 9:50AM
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scaper_austin

Great, great info. In your opinion are heleconias worth the time and effort? I just think they would be a great addition to my theme park with there awesome flowers. Freeze damage should not be a problem as I overwinter in several greenhouses. Large plants not a problem as I forklift my 100 gallon concrete plants around all the time. I already plant for the future in a lot of cases so if I have to wait two years to get the plants on display no big deal. I might also be able to leave the heleconias on display in a greenhouse permanantly as my greenhouse becomes an air conditioned exhibit during the summer. Just curious as to what problems I should expect or if you have a recommendation for another type of striking tropical.

Thanks again,
Scape

    Bookmark   May 7, 2013 at 9:26PM
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lac1361(z9a Lake Charles, LA)

Where exactly are you. I see Austin as part of your name, Is that where you live? I can think of a whole lot of tropicals you could grow if you are willing to put in the time and effort. First of all, with your set up and ability to move large pots of plants into a greenhouse, I would definitely do some heliconia. You could even grow some of the big Bihais and Caribaeas, like Jacquinii. Both of these produce the well known upright lobster claw inflorescence. Very dramatic. I would think you could plant some plumeria in the ground around your place. They can take full sun. You might have to amend the soil a little to make it more acidic but it would work. They are easy to dig up in the fall and go completely dormant. No care needed. I would look into a jade vine for your greenhouse. It would need to be permanently planted in the ground but the blooms are considered to be the most beautiful in the world. There are so many gingers that would work for you in the ground we would need to have a conversation; but some of my favorites are the Hedychiums(butterfly gingers) All are fragrant, most are hardy in zone 8 and could be planted the ground. An AeAe banana would look good in the greenhouse. Google it. Variegated leaves and variegated fruit. Stunning banana. Potted orchids in the greenhouse in redwood baskets. Nice.

Steve

    Bookmark   May 8, 2013 at 8:53AM
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scaper_austin

Yes the name is a little confusing but I'm in Dallas. Most if not all of my plantings have to be done in pots because I'm at a theme park with no available bear ground to do flower beds. My park is open from may to august then closes and reopens in sept. and October. I am particularly looking for tropical that would bloom or look good in that summer time frame and I'm exited to here Heleconias are an option. Yes AeAe is stunning and I need to add that to my list. I actually have a friend in Baton Rouge who is able to over winter his AeAe with a lot of mulch and a plastic pot over the corm perhaps I could talk him out of a pup. I would love to hear some names of good gingers you recommend but I too love the Hedychiums. I will research those Heleconias you have recommended and thanks for all your help. I may have more questions in the future if you dont mind and if your ever in dallas holler and I'll get you into my park. I think you would really like my greenhouse and potted tropicals.

Thanks,
Scape

    Bookmark   May 8, 2013 at 9:28PM
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lac1361(z9a Lake Charles, LA)

My AeAe's are in the ground also. I've fruited it twice since 2005. They are a somewhat problematic plant and need protection here in Lake Charles even though we are warmer than Baton Rouge. We're at least a half a zone warmer. Feel free to contact me with whatever questions. My email address is stephen.lacy@whitneybank.com.

Steve

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 8:18AM
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scaper_austin

One more quick q if you don't mind. What about the psittacorums? Do you think they are just too plain or do they have issues. It seems like they bloom a long time and are a good size for containers.

Thanks again,
Scape

    Bookmark   May 9, 2013 at 10:07PM
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lac1361(z9a Lake Charles, LA)

I still grow psittacorums but don't try to over winter them as they are notoriously difficult. I treat them as annuals and buy a few when they show up in the big box stores or at a local nursery that receives tropical plant shipments from Greendale Nursery, the nursery I mentioned earlier. I like Choconiana, Strawberries and Cream and Lady Di. These are 3 of the more readily available psitts as well.

Steve

    Bookmark   May 10, 2013 at 8:22AM
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scaper_austin

Awsome thanks again.

Scape

    Bookmark   May 12, 2013 at 9:54PM
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