Heliconia (Lobster claw) profile

Written by Maggie

Apr 01 2021

Heliconia (Lobster claw) profile

The flower of Heliconia (Lobster claw) is named for its resemblance to the golden mouth on the head of a crane. In the world flower history belongs to the rare herbaceous rising star. The plant classification belongs to the perennial plant of Canna family Scorpion.  

Heliconia plants are banana shaped and 150 ~ 250 cm tall. Underground rhizomes, ground pseudostems are slender, dark green, with purplish brown markings.

Heliconia picture


Heliconia info

Botanical Name Heliconia rostrata
Common Names Heliconia, lobster claw, false bird-of-paradise
Plant Type Tropical perennial
Sun Full sun to part shade (depends on species)
Hardiness Zones 9–11 (USDA); often grown as a houseplant
Flower color Red, pink, yellow, orange, or green (varies by species)
Native Area Asia, Australia
Mature size 1–15 feet (depends on species)

Morphological characteristics of Heliconia


Heliconia plants are banana shaped and 150 ~ 250 cm tall. Underground rhizome, ground pseudostem slender, dark green, with purplish brown markings.


Heliconia leaves are alternate, erect, narrowly lanceolate or banded broadly lanceolate, 90 -- 120 cm long and 15 -- 26 cm wide, leathery, glossy, dark green, entire.


Heliconia terminal spikes are most distinctive, pendulous, inflorescences 40 -- 70 cm long, sometimes 1 -- 1.5 m long, woody bracts alternate, in two alternate rows arranged in clusters, 15 -- 25, boat shaped, dark red at base, golden near the top 1/3, with yellow and green markings at margin, highly ornamental. The ligulate flowers are bisexual, beige, and last for 20 days.

The ecological habits of Heliconia

Heliconia is one of the earliest plants of the genus Canna, which is native to the tropical area of America from Argentina to Peru. Guangzhou South China Botanical Garden in May 1986 introduced cultivation, now the South China area is growing well. It likes high temperature, high humidity and sufficient light environment, but can tolerate half shade. Heliconia likes rich organic matter of fertile neutral to slightly acidic soil, barren resistance, avoid drought, fear of cold, suitable temperature for growth of 18 ~ 30℃.

Heliconia likes to grow in a warm, moist and semi-cloudy environment. In summer, the leaves are easily damaged and black spots occur. In winter, if the temperature is below 10℃, the growth will be affected. In most of the tropical areas of foreign countries are used as garden flowers planted in public places for people to watch.

A few are planted in large greenhouse in order to provide perennial cut flowers on the market, because the plants of Heliconia are taller, and require to be planted in deep and fertile soil, plus the plant type is not beautiful, so few people used to pot, most are to buy cut flowers home decoration. Currently, the Heliconia production of our country south each district is starting, and the market is right its demand is very big however, Guangzhou many guesthouses often want to buy from Hong Kong, if they can seize the opportunity to expand, will be able to obtain good benefit.

The propagation of Heliconia

Heliconia can be propagated by sowing, dividing plant and tissue culture.

When planted in China, Heliconia usually does not bear seeds because of insufficient accumulated temperature, but it can bear fruit when planted in tropical origin. When using seed propagation, the germination temperature is 25 ~ 28℃, about 20 days after sowing, germination, seedlings need to be planted for 2 ~ 3 years before flowering.

Propagation by dividing Heliconia is usually carried out in spring. Dig out the strong plants or new buds that have not yet bloomed around the mother plant, 1 ~ 3 plants per stump, and transplant them in different ways. When just transplanting, we should pay attention to shade, otherwise we will easily suffer from birthday burn. The ramets can flower that year or the following year.

It was difficult to culture the explants, and the rate of proliferation and differentiation was slow. After special deconfouling procedure, the buds were inoculated in MS medium +6-BA 10mg/L+NAA 0.5mg/L+Vit C 150mg/L, buds elongated about 15 days later, and cluster buds grew after secondary culture about 60 days later. Cluster buds of Heliconia were subcultured in MS medium with 6-BA10mg/L and NAA 0.5mg/L, and the propagation coefficient was about 3. Before rooting, buds were strengthened on MS medium +6BA2.0mg/L+NAA 0.52mg/L. The shoots with a length of 2 ~ 3 cm were then transferred to MS medium with IBA 2.0mg/L and NAA 0.5mg/L for rooting, and the rooting rate reached 100%.After transplanting, keep enough air humidity and ventilation, and the survival rate of test-tube seedling transplanting can reach more than 98%.

How to grow and care for Heliconia


Heliconia flourishes in the equal stipulations as bananas and bird-of-paradise plants. They can tolerate mild prerequisites from dappled coloration to full sunlight; full solar can be in particular beneficial in northerly latitudes. When grown as houseplants, provide the brightest oblique mild you can.

The brief days of northern climates can be a trouble for indoor Heliconia plants, and you can also discover it vital to add a supplemental mild supply to supply illumination for at least eight to 10 hours per day.


A rich, peat-based potting soil with notable drainage is advisable for potted plants. A combination of wood-based compost and peat moss makes an best DIY potting soil. Plants grown outside in the backyard will thrive in a rich, moist, however very well-draining backyard soil. These plant life can effortlessly increase root rot in soil that is too wet.


All species of Heliconia require adequate and non-stop water to thrive, however with precise drainage. Plants subjected to drought will ride leaf-browning, in particular alongside the leaf margins. To defend your plant throughout the winter, use tepid water at some stage in watering. Make positive the soil dries out nearly completely between watering, however then water immediately. Proper watering is the single most necessary thing of developing these flowers successfully.

Temperature and humidity

Heliconia is native to tropical forests, so they select heat and pretty humid conditions. Temperatures of 70 stages Fahrenheit and above are ideal. Although the plant life regularly live on a short, moderate frost, typically speaking, it is great to guard them in opposition to temps under 50 degrees, which can ship the plant into a semi-dormant state.

In the dry winters of northern climates, indoor flora will require normal misting to preserve the leaves from drying out. Brown hints and margins on leaves are signs and symptoms the flowers want moister air.


Feed with a vulnerable liquid fertilizer each and every couple of weeks all through the developing season. Cut fertilizer returned as soon as a month or so in the winter.

Potting and repotting

Heliconia rhizomes are great potted in the early spring, when the developing season begins. Though fast-growing, these flora do not require established repotting. They do not think being barely pot-bound, and in fact, would possibly develop higher in a barely tighter pot. Plants will clump over time, so make positive to divide person vegetation to make your series bigger and preserve them manageable.

A regular industrial potting soil with a peat base will work properly for Heliconia. Or, you can make your personal combine from even proportions of peat moss and a wood-based compost. Make positive to use a heavy pot, as these giant plant life can be inclined to tipping, particularly if they are moved outside all through the summer.


Heliconia varieties

Of the extra than 200 flowering flowers in the genus, these are the ones most usually grown in cultivation:

Parrot heliconia (Heliconia psittacorum): Named for the similarity to a parrot's feathers, this species has greenish-yellow vegetation with black spots close to the tips. This plant commonly stays underneath three ft tall, with some cultivars developing to a manageable 18 inches or so, making it a frequent preference for a houseplant.

Lobster claw/ False Bird of Paradise (H. rostrata): The countrywide flower of Bolivia, this species has flower bracts that are a putting mixture of warm pink, yellow, and green. At four to 6 feet, this is on occasion grown as a massive potted plant, even though greater regularly as a backyard specimen.

'Dwarf Jamaican' heliconia (H. stricta 'Dwarf Jamaican'):H. stricta is a smaller species, at two to 10 ft tall. 'Dwarf Jamaican' is one of the most famous cultivars of the species for houseplant use, developing to solely about 20 inches in height.

Pink Flamingo (H. chartacea): This is pretty a massive plant, grown extra regularly as a backyard specimen than as a potted plant. 'Sexy Pink' and 'Sexy Scarlet' are frequent backyard choices.

Wild plantain (H. caribaea): This is some other frequent outside panorama plant in tropical developing zones. It grows as a whole lot as 15 toes in height.

Disease control of Heliconia

There are few diseases and insect pests of Heliconia.

Indoor potting, if the ventilation is poor, prone to scale insect harm, can be used 25% imine triphosphorus emulsion spray kill.

Heliconia function

Ornamental value

Until a French fashion designer saw Heliconia's magic posture color, immediately inspired, specifically for female models to design a set inlaid with this pattern of fashion. As a result, I won the grand prize in the competition, which attracted more flower lovers. It was after the 1950s that Heliconia began to gain fame. Heliconia has been introduced to more than 80 countries in the world.In the past, many flowers need 100 years or even hundreds of years to become famous in the world, but the Heliconia is less than half a century to leap into the world famous flower. In 1987, the first China Flower Fair was held in Beijing. In front of the population gate of the Guangdong Pavilion, a large flower arrangement work entitled "Crane Love Spring" was exhibited, with Heliconia as the main flower material, and it won the "Quality Exhibit Award". The exhibition of this tropical novelty made a deep impression on many visitors from the north.

Flower arranging role

Heliconia is famous not for its beauty, but for its spikelet, which makes excellent floral arrangements. As we all know, most of the common flowers are straight up, and Heliconia is left right bend, hanging down, very chic, although the lack of natural wild interest, but easy to mistake it is artificial caused by false flowers. As a result, many hotels, dance halls, shops and furniture cities use it to decorate the Windows, so as to attract customers to stop. Many residents in Hong Kong think it looks like a firecracker, which is a sign of good luck. They like to buy a few strings and hang them on the wall at every happy event to add a warm atmosphere.

The garden use of Heliconia

Due to its long and drooping inflorescences, short and wide bracts and close arrangement, Heliconia is an advanced material for hanging cut flowers with unique flower patterns and gorgeous flowers. It can be viewed for more than 10 days under the condition of scattered light. When planting, Heliconia is suitable to arrange courtyards, hotels, pools, walls and other places. Each inflorescence leaves a flower in 3 days, and the whole flowering period can be up to 4 to 5 months.

In addition, because its flower shape is like a bird beak, and like colorful firecrackers, so in Southeast Asia the area is very popular, especially in the Spring Festival, Chinese people like to hang Heliconia on the door, add festive color.

The distribution area of Heliconia

Heliconia is originally from Peru.