Heliconia chartacea

Heliconia chartacea

Heliconia chartacea is a herbaceous cultivated for its pendulous flowers with usually pink bracts, rare color among the Heliconia making it easily identifiable.

It is the subject of many cultivars as Sexy Pink and Sexy Scarlet and some cultivars of different color, such as Surinam Gold that has yellow bracts.

It is a vigorous plant that grows up to 7-8 m in its habitat but 3 m in cultivation.

Description:

Heliconia chartacea is a herbaceous related to banana. It forms clumps with age.

The leaves are large, oblong and paired.

The flower spikes are pendulous. The bracts are pink, the small green flowers are hidden by the bracts. They are pollinated by hummingbirds, attracted by the nectar.

The fruits are blue-black and contain 3 hard seeds, which are capable of prolonged dormancy in the soil. The fruits are eaten by a wide variety of birds.

Nomenclature:

Common name:

Heliconia, pink flamingo

Etymology:

Heliconia: from the Greek Helicōnios, a mountain in Greece
Chartacea: from the Greek chartes (paper, sheet)

Origin:

Tropical America (Brazil, Guyana)

Habitat:

Moist tropical forest



Hardiness:

Zones USDA 10-11

Care:

Soil:

Rich and well drained

Exposure:

Sun, partial shade

Water:

Keep soil permanently moist but not wet

Pot:

Provide a large enough pot: 10-15 cm wider than rhizome

Fertilizer:

For a young plant, use solid fertilizer that releases slowly. Established plants require more water and fertilizer, use universal liquid fertilizer once per week.

Propagation:

Seed, division

Propagation by division ensures the new plants have the same characteristics as the mother plant, unlike seedlings. When dividing, cut the rhizome. Do not plant the rhizome too deep, it could rot.

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