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Heliconia Latifolia?


OB Burt

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3 hours ago, OB Burt said:

A rare bloom ...

Awesome color. Does the bloom stay upright or does it 'dive down' and go pendent?

Ryan

South Florida

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Glorious. 

I just got a rhizome of Heliconia "carmasita" which is a latispatha x psittacorum hybrid. 

They are supposed to be very vigorous smaller growing Heli's. 

 

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  • 6 months later...

I just happened to see this thread from late last year...Burt, what you have there appears to be Heliconia latispatha, a 'red-yellow gyro' type. There are many forms of this species, which exists in diverse areas from Mexico down to South America. This is a very pretty one, and I am curious to know how you are growing it? Is it in a container, or in the ground? And in shade or sun? Coastal areas of San Diego County are of course on the cool side and usually one sees the cool-adapted Heliconia schiedeana in the coastal strip (though there are other rarely seen species/cultivars that can grow and flower there). This species is very adaptable, and can be grown from central or lower-northern California (e.g., San Francisco Bay area) in warm microclimates, southward; and also in the lower desert; the Gulf Coast and southeastern states (9a/b and warmer); and throughout Florida. And of course they thrive in tropical climates as well. Any cultural info on your success is helpful in guiding the many Heliconia lovers out there in what to plant in their area and how to cultivate it and bring it into bloom.

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Michael Norell

Rancho Mirage, California | 33°44' N 116°25' W | 287 ft | z10a | avg Jan 43/70F | Jul 78/108F avg | Weather Station KCARANCH310

previously Big Pine Key, Florida | 24°40' N 81°21' W | 4.5 ft. | z12a | Calcareous substrate | avg annual min. approx 52F | avg Jan 65/75F | Jul 83/90 | extreme min approx 41F

previously Natchez, Mississippi | 31°33' N 91°24' W | 220 ft.| z9a | Downtown/river-adjacent | Loess substrate | avg annual min. 23F | Jan 43/61F | Jul 73/93F | extreme min 2.5F (1899); previously Los Angeles, California (multiple locations)

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@OB Burt I would love to hear any heliconia advice as well! Tagging you in this post so you’ll get a notification that your “fans” have more questions.

Microphone out.. What has been the secret to growing them in so Cal?
(same mic is of course available to all with heliconia advice)!

Stacey Wright  |  Graphic Designer

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They can't freeze for sure. I just scored 2 rhizomes of H. indica spectabilis, one I have wanted for years. Its mainly a foilage plant. The rhizomes re-rooted and have new growth. Seems to be a fast grower.

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"You can't see California without Marlon Brando's eyes"---SliPknot

 

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H. latispatha can live through freezes in the Deep South. The rhizomes may fail in long, wet freezes or long, wet winters in heavy soil. My tests in Natchez, Mississippi (a chilly-winter 9a) showed all forms I tested of H. latispatha to return as long as temps remained more or less over 20F. H. 'Mexican Gold,' which is often declared a form of H. latispatha (this has never been proven, however, and it may be a natural hybrid), is the hardiest single-season bloomer I ever successfully trialed. It returned from 13F in 2018 and bloomed that fall. H. latispatha 'distans' was perhaps the least hardy of those I tried, but it was generally strong in a sheltered, hot-summer spot. All forms must have a mostly full-sun position to flower in a season in the Gulf South. In the shade there, they will probably never bloom, since they don't have time to make enough leaves in a season to initiate and expand the inflorescence. In frostless but cooler climates like much of coastal California they will probably have poorer foliage quality in full sun and with coastal wind exposure, plus slow growth rates that will wear on the leaves (note the usual tattered appearance of H. schiedeana there); but in wind- and cold-protected dappled/partial sun can make it to a second season to bloom. It has been flowered by members of this forum in the SF Bay region (in particular David Feix @bahia in Berkeley, and I wouldn't be surprised if Jim Denz @Jim in Los Altos has put his hand to this species), I believe always as a second-season bloomer.

And "metalfan" Gina -- H. indica is probably the least cold-hardy Heliconia and as far as I know does not survive Miami winters in the open. You may want to experiment with H. lingulata and H. hirsuta (the latter a good substitute for cold-tender H. psittacorum).

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Michael Norell

Rancho Mirage, California | 33°44' N 116°25' W | 287 ft | z10a | avg Jan 43/70F | Jul 78/108F avg | Weather Station KCARANCH310

previously Big Pine Key, Florida | 24°40' N 81°21' W | 4.5 ft. | z12a | Calcareous substrate | avg annual min. approx 52F | avg Jan 65/75F | Jul 83/90 | extreme min approx 41F

previously Natchez, Mississippi | 31°33' N 91°24' W | 220 ft.| z9a | Downtown/river-adjacent | Loess substrate | avg annual min. 23F | Jan 43/61F | Jul 73/93F | extreme min 2.5F (1899); previously Los Angeles, California (multiple locations)

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6 hours ago, mnorell said:

H. latispatha can live through freezes in the Deep South. The rhizomes may fail in long, wet freezes or long, wet winters in heavy soil. My tests in Natchez, Mississippi (a chilly-winter 9a) showed all forms I tested of H. latispatha to return as long as temps remained more or less over 20F. H. 'Mexican Gold,' which is often declared a form of H. latispatha (this has never been proven, however, and it may be a natural hybrid), is the hardiest single-season bloomer I ever successfully trialed. It returned from 13F in 2018 and bloomed that fall. H. latispatha 'distans' was perhaps the least hardy of those I tried, but it was generally strong in a sheltered, hot-summer spot. All forms must have a mostly full-sun position to flower in a season in the Gulf South. In the shade there, they will probably never bloom, since they don't have time to make enough leaves in a season to initiate and expand the inflorescence. In frostless but cooler climates like much of coastal California they will probably have poorer foliage quality in full sun and with coastal wind exposure, plus slow growth rates that will wear on the leaves (note the usual tattered appearance of H. schiedeana there); but in wind- and cold-protected dappled/partial sun can make it to a second season to bloom. It has been flowered by members of this forum in the SF Bay region (in particular David Feix @bahia in Berkeley, and I wouldn't be surprised if Jim Denz @Jim in Los Altos has put his hand to this species), I believe always as a second-season bloomer.

And "metalfan" Gina -- H. indica is probably the least cold-hardy Heliconia and as far as I know does not survive Miami winters in the open. You may want to experiment with H. lingulata and H. hirsuta (the latter a good substitute for cold-tender H. psittacorum).

Heliconia schiedeana had been remarkably invasive in my garden and I’ve removed most of it. I left an area of it that’s in full all day sun and, although the leaves are smaller and a lighter shade of green than shade grown ones, they handle the hot sun well and bloom well. 

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Jim in Los Altos, CA  SF Bay Area 37.34N- 122.13W- 190' above sea level

zone 10a/9b

sunset zone 16

300+ palms, 90+ species in the ground

Las Palmas Design

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16 hours ago, mnorell said:

H. latispatha can live through freezes in the Deep South. The rhizomes may fail in long, wet freezes or long, wet winters in heavy soil. My tests in Natchez, Mississippi (a chilly-winter 9a) showed all forms I tested of H. latispatha to return as long as temps remained more or less over 20F. H. 'Mexican Gold,' which is often declared a form of H. latispatha (this has never been proven, however, and it may be a natural hybrid), is the hardiest single-season bloomer I ever successfully trialed. It returned from 13F in 2018 and bloomed that fall. H. latispatha 'distans' was perhaps the least hardy of those I tried, but it was generally strong in a sheltered, hot-summer spot. All forms must have a mostly full-sun position to flower in a season in the Gulf South. In the shade there, they will probably never bloom, since they don't have time to make enough leaves in a season to initiate and expand the inflorescence. In frostless but cooler climates like much of coastal California they will probably have poorer foliage quality in full sun and with coastal wind exposure, plus slow growth rates that will wear on the leaves (note the usual tattered appearance of H. schiedeana there); but in wind- and cold-protected dappled/partial sun can make it to a second season to bloom. It has been flowered by members of this forum in the SF Bay region (in particular David Feix @bahia in Berkeley, and I wouldn't be surprised if Jim Denz @Jim in Los Altos has put his hand to this species), I believe always as a second-season bloomer.

And "metalfan" Gina -- H. indica is probably the least cold-hardy Heliconia and as far as I know does not survive Miami winters in the open. You may want to experiment with H. lingulata and H. hirsuta (the latter a good substitute for cold-tender H. psittacorum).

I have a temperature controlled greenhouse its not a problem for Indica

"You can't see California without Marlon Brando's eyes"---SliPknot

 

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On 6/9/2022 at 1:33 AM, mnorell said:

I just happened to see this thread from late last year...Burt, what you have there appears to be Heliconia latispatha, a 'red-yellow gyro' type. There are many forms of this species, which exists in diverse areas from Mexico down to South America. This is a very pretty one, and I am curious to know how you are growing it? Is it in a container, or in the ground? And in shade or sun? Coastal areas of San Diego County are of course on the cool side and usually one sees the cool-adapted Heliconia schiedeana in the coastal strip (though there are other rarely seen species/cultivars that can grow and flower there). This species is very adaptable, and can be grown from central or lower-northern California (e.g., San Francisco Bay area) in warm microclimates, southward; and also in the lower desert; the Gulf Coast and southeastern states (9a/b and warmer); and throughout Florida. And of course they thrive in tropical climates as well. Any cultural info on your success is helpful in guiding the many Heliconia lovers out there in what to plant in their area and how to cultivate it and bring it into bloom.

It is ground grown in full sun. I have it growing side by side with schiedeana. Blooms are rare but welcome

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burt repine

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16 hours ago, Jim in Los Altos said:

Heliconia schiedeana had been remarkably invasive in my garden and I’ve removed most of it. I left an area of it that’s in full all day sun and, although the leaves are smaller and a lighter shade of green than shade grown ones, they handle the hot sun well and bloom well. 

Yes, they are very aggressive and took over the yard.  I removed all Heliconia and gingers

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6 hours ago, BigFrond said:

Yes, they are very aggressive and took over the yard.  I removed all Heliconia and gingers

They’re a b—ch to remove too! 

Jim in Los Altos, CA  SF Bay Area 37.34N- 122.13W- 190' above sea level

zone 10a/9b

sunset zone 16

300+ palms, 90+ species in the ground

Las Palmas Design

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Las Palmas Design & Associates

Elegant Homes and Gardens

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9 hours ago, BigFrond said:

Yes, they are very aggressive and took over the yard.  I removed all Heliconia and gingers

 

3 hours ago, Jim in Los Altos said:

They’re a b—ch to remove too! 

Ok, you have my attention...

I have a small clump of schiedeana and was thinking of getting more types (a couple of the ones listed as cold hardy). I don’t want to plant a nightmare though. Anyone have a “cautionary tale” photo? A web search for “heliconia invasive” only shows the lovely blooms.

Drop a photo of your monster/out-of-control heliconia clump if you have one! Scare me out of making a bad call :bemused:

Stacey Wright  |  Graphic Designer

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If you’re annoyed with H. schiedeana and don’t want to mess with latispatha (some forms can also be spreaders/runners) you might try H. tortuosa. Phil Bergman has been selling these, in flower, as a possible latispatha. I bought one and ID’d it as tortuosa and wrote him an email so hopefully he has the ID fixed. They are tall, upright clumps with dramatic foliage and somewhat showy large red inflorescences. I think they might be a good and less invasive choice for coastal areas. H. nutans is smaller, also blooms in cool coastal situations but is hard to come. by…and not as showy. Everybody seems to have a negative impression of this genus after dealing with weedy cold-happy schiedeana…LOL, it is the opposite situation for most heliconia species/cultivars in coastal California, since few people can get them to grow or flower at all!!

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Michael Norell

Rancho Mirage, California | 33°44' N 116°25' W | 287 ft | z10a | avg Jan 43/70F | Jul 78/108F avg | Weather Station KCARANCH310

previously Big Pine Key, Florida | 24°40' N 81°21' W | 4.5 ft. | z12a | Calcareous substrate | avg annual min. approx 52F | avg Jan 65/75F | Jul 83/90 | extreme min approx 41F

previously Natchez, Mississippi | 31°33' N 91°24' W | 220 ft.| z9a | Downtown/river-adjacent | Loess substrate | avg annual min. 23F | Jan 43/61F | Jul 73/93F | extreme min 2.5F (1899); previously Los Angeles, California (multiple locations)

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3 hours ago, iDesign said:

 

 

Ok, you have my attention...

I have a small clump of schiedeana and was thinking of getting more types (a couple of the ones listed as cold hardy). I don’t want to plant a nightmare though. Anyone have a “cautionary tale” photo? A web search for “heliconia invasive” only shows the lovely blooms.

Drop a photo of your monster/out-of-control heliconia clump if you have one! Scare me out of making a bad call :bemused:

Just grow some in a big pot or barrel. :)

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Jim in Los Altos, CA  SF Bay Area 37.34N- 122.13W- 190' above sea level

zone 10a/9b

sunset zone 16

300+ palms, 90+ species in the ground

Las Palmas Design

Facebook Page

Las Palmas Design & Associates

Elegant Homes and Gardens

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On 6/10/2022 at 11:32 PM, iDesign said:

 

 

Ok, you have my attention...

I have a small clump of schiedeana and was thinking of getting more types (a couple of the ones listed as cold hardy). I don’t want to plant a nightmare though. Anyone have a “cautionary tale” photo? A web search for “heliconia invasive” only shows the lovely blooms.

Drop a photo of your monster/out-of-control heliconia clump if you have one! Scare me out of making a bad call :bemused:


Here’s 8 months of growth.   Pretty.   

Sept 2021…

B9A25289-C3BD-4335-BCC2-68E0CAACDC11.thumb.jpeg.22dec864f4ab71824900046ec2e493a4.jpeg

Spring 2022…

08DEF96C-D385-4D04-9D0F-F828AC2FB87E.thumb.jpeg.3c7040c54da8d07c29fbbcd1c6c06a8b.jpeg

Today….

44800A2B-9C9E-4138-B3AF-E89535853797.thumb.jpeg.90021ccb85608758b1e17c105c30e94b.jpeg
It was just too much…

211F9543-6982-425D-8C10-001E0BE817C4.thumb.jpeg.49af5c7e43deb31dd4329a8a83b58c77.jpeg

These don’t pull out….   It’s going to take me a weekend of digging with a hand pick to get them all.   

1D604D7F-6685-4AFF-A3D8-BE620A113C9E.jpeg

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Yep, that's the photo I needed.

So far mine are far from threatening, but they're less than a year old and the spot I picked for them isn't very large. Into a pot they go! 

heliconia.png.c6b7e623e792ec7e21a48591457d4ee6.png

Thanks all :greenthumb:

 

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Stacey Wright  |  Graphic Designer

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On 6/13/2022 at 3:04 AM, Looking Glass said:


Here’s 8 months of growth.   Pretty.   

Sept 2021…

B9A25289-C3BD-4335-BCC2-68E0CAACDC11.thumb.jpeg.22dec864f4ab71824900046ec2e493a4.jpeg

Spring 2022…

08DEF96C-D385-4D04-9D0F-F828AC2FB87E.thumb.jpeg.3c7040c54da8d07c29fbbcd1c6c06a8b.jpeg

Today….

44800A2B-9C9E-4138-B3AF-E89535853797.thumb.jpeg.90021ccb85608758b1e17c105c30e94b.jpeg
It was just too much…

211F9543-6982-425D-8C10-001E0BE817C4.thumb.jpeg.49af5c7e43deb31dd4329a8a83b58c77.jpeg

These don’t pull out….   It’s going to take me a weekend of digging with a hand pick to get them all.   

1D604D7F-6685-4AFF-A3D8-BE620A113C9E.jpeg

@Looking Glass This is painful to see.... 

I cannot believe you chopped them. They are glorious. 

Best I can do here is grow several varieties in a pot. 

 

I have attempted lingulata 3 times but it fails to grow for long and seems to suffer root rot worse than any variety I have.  (red tip version). 

Does anyone else have experience with lingulata (red tip) for pot culture? 

I have given up on the last rhizome I had in terra cotta and recently transplanted it into the banana bed where it suddenly threw out 2 new leaves.... 

 

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2 hours ago, Dartolution said:

@Looking Glass This is painful to see.... 

I cannot believe you chopped them. They are glorious. 

Best I can do here is grow several varieties in a pot. 

 

I have attempted lingulata 3 times but it fails to grow for long and seems to suffer root rot worse than any variety I have.  (red tip version). 

Does anyone else have experience with lingulata (red tip) for pot culture? 

I have given up on the last rhizome I had in terra cotta and recently transplanted it into the banana bed where it suddenly threw out 2 new leaves.... 

 

It was a tough decision, but they were 6 feet tall, and getting to be a bit too much.  They looked great for a while,  but then started falling out to the sides and shading everything.   It was initially going to just be a reset, but I think I’ll try something else in that box again.   I’ll save some for a big pot, but they are pretty aggressive and fast, even for that planter box.  

My neighbor has a similar type, but orange.  They escaped his garden bed and are taking over his side yard now.  

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LOL it looks like your heliconia were being protected by ADT

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"You can't see California without Marlon Brando's eyes"---SliPknot

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 6/13/2022 at 8:39 AM, iDesign said:

Yep, that's the photo I needed.

So far mine are far from threatening, but they're less than a year old and the spot I picked for them isn't very large. Into a pot they go! 

heliconia.png.c6b7e623e792ec7e21a48591457d4ee6.png

Thanks all :greenthumb:

 

Stacey, what species/cultivar do you have there? In determining bed size, etc., you should keep in mind two big factors:
- The size and habit of the plant you've chosen
- The adaptability to your climate of that species/cultivar.
You have to remember that "Looking Glass" is in Ft. Lauderdale; that the species he has chosen is Heliconia psittacorum; and that both of these facts contradict your situation. That species, while it is a weed in South Florida, is unlikely to even survive one winter in coastal SoCal; and aside from Heliconia schiedeana, there are few possibilities that might fill a bed in that way in your climate. So unless those are H. schiedeana, I would suggest...back in the ground they go! If they are adaptable to the cool California Coast (which is, in temperature terms, somewhat similar to a montane tropical climate, ca. 6000' elevation), they will do better in the ground than in a pot. Pots carry with them a lot of issues with drainage and the very real potential root-rot for Heliconia plants that aren't yet established via multiple stems and a large mass of healthy roots. By planting in the ground, excess water tends to be wicked away by adjacent, drier soil. Though you should check your soil composition to make sure it is not full of clay...it needs drainage. And in the unlikely event that you are the victim of a rampant Heliconia, they are really not so difficult to dig out for the purpose of restraining their spread, unless they are a big H. bihai or H. caribaea (neither likely to succeed in your area).
 

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Michael Norell

Rancho Mirage, California | 33°44' N 116°25' W | 287 ft | z10a | avg Jan 43/70F | Jul 78/108F avg | Weather Station KCARANCH310

previously Big Pine Key, Florida | 24°40' N 81°21' W | 4.5 ft. | z12a | Calcareous substrate | avg annual min. approx 52F | avg Jan 65/75F | Jul 83/90 | extreme min approx 41F

previously Natchez, Mississippi | 31°33' N 91°24' W | 220 ft.| z9a | Downtown/river-adjacent | Loess substrate | avg annual min. 23F | Jan 43/61F | Jul 73/93F | extreme min 2.5F (1899); previously Los Angeles, California (multiple locations)

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On 6/14/2022 at 9:11 AM, Dartolution said:

@Looking Glass This is painful to see.... 

I cannot believe you chopped them. They are glorious. 

Best I can do here is grow several varieties in a pot. 

 

I have attempted lingulata 3 times but it fails to grow for long and seems to suffer root rot worse than any variety I have.  (red tip version). 

Does anyone else have experience with lingulata (red tip) for pot culture? 

I have given up on the last rhizome I had in terra cotta and recently transplanted it into the banana bed where it suddenly threw out 2 new leaves.... 

 

Shawn--

H. lingulata is good to about 20F during the winter in the Deep South. It collapsed on me below that temperature in Natchez (chilly 9a). Since you say you are an 8a...you have some challenges. I would suggest you plunge a large, potted plant in your garden, in full sun, to get flowering (yes, it flowers in one season with this species...IN FULL SUN.) They do so much better if the roots can get into the ground, even if just for one season. You can then lift it in November and repeat the process after the last frost of spring. Otherwise it is a tough plant! I would suggest, if you lose the one you have, that you drive down to Florida and get yourself a nice, large nursery-grown plant, to avoid the issue with rotting rhizomes...

I would strongly suggest you get yourself a nice plant of Heliconia 'Mexican Gold.' I had this plant survive the 13F we had in Natchez in 2018, and it bloomed the next fall. But again, you will want to plant it in FULL SUN to ensure it blooms in one season. Everything else that could bloom in a single season that I tried was pretty much gone below a classic Deep South-style wet, hard freeze below about 20F. Those that survived were second-season bloomers...thus a negative in a less-than-10a climate.

One problem is starting with rhizomes, which can be a challenge north of Florida since they are slow to get going and roots can rot very easily when young. Your best bet, as I mentioned above, is to do a plant-gathering trip to Central or Southern Florida nurseries, grab the Heliconias you want as nice, healthy plants, and work with those. They will be much easier to get going.

Best of luck to you in getting something to do well. It is a fun challenge, if you have the determination to get a result...

 

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Michael Norell

Rancho Mirage, California | 33°44' N 116°25' W | 287 ft | z10a | avg Jan 43/70F | Jul 78/108F avg | Weather Station KCARANCH310

previously Big Pine Key, Florida | 24°40' N 81°21' W | 4.5 ft. | z12a | Calcareous substrate | avg annual min. approx 52F | avg Jan 65/75F | Jul 83/90 | extreme min approx 41F

previously Natchez, Mississippi | 31°33' N 91°24' W | 220 ft.| z9a | Downtown/river-adjacent | Loess substrate | avg annual min. 23F | Jan 43/61F | Jul 73/93F | extreme min 2.5F (1899); previously Los Angeles, California (multiple locations)

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Don’t shed too many tears……

(14 days later and I’ve been busy working on other stuff)

D9B8B8B8-B244-4620-B342-D5EE322148E3.thumb.jpeg.b389aa6bfafd27eb3dadc3783f4952bb.jpeg

I thought I picking a small one, and the perpetual flowers were nice.  

Edited by Looking Glass
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1 hour ago, Looking Glass said:

Don’t shed too many tears……

(14 days later and I’ve been busy working on other stuff)

I thought I picking a small one, and the perpetual flowers were nice.  

A good smaller species with a similar flower to Heliconia psittacorum is Heliconia hirsuta. I think you would find that it is less aggressive but has many nice qualities and probably a slightly smaller overall size. You can usually find the very attractive cultivar 'Costa Flores' for sale by looking/asking around in SoFla. It is less common in nurseries to be sure, but it can be located. And there are a number of other cultivars of that species as well. And to the benefit of people located north of you, it has the bonus of being much, much more cold-hardy.

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Michael Norell

Rancho Mirage, California | 33°44' N 116°25' W | 287 ft | z10a | avg Jan 43/70F | Jul 78/108F avg | Weather Station KCARANCH310

previously Big Pine Key, Florida | 24°40' N 81°21' W | 4.5 ft. | z12a | Calcareous substrate | avg annual min. approx 52F | avg Jan 65/75F | Jul 83/90 | extreme min approx 41F

previously Natchez, Mississippi | 31°33' N 91°24' W | 220 ft.| z9a | Downtown/river-adjacent | Loess substrate | avg annual min. 23F | Jan 43/61F | Jul 73/93F | extreme min 2.5F (1899); previously Los Angeles, California (multiple locations)

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10 hours ago, mnorell said:

...so unless those are H. schiedeana, I would suggest...back in the ground they go!

It's unfortunately H. schiedeana. At the time I purchased it, I was told this one was the ONLY Heliconia that could survive in CA, but being that I'm 10A (and willing to put in some maintenance work) I'm now thinking I could try something slightly more exotic. I'm also not a big fan of the bloom on schiedeana, so didn't shed any tears removing it. Will probably just give it away.

You're obviously a Heliconia expert, so I was wondering if you could recommend a relatively tall type that is either not overly aggressive (in my area) or could handle being in a pot. There's a spot in my yard where a tall Heliconia would look particularly amazing.

I'm picky on color though... Ideal would be if the blooms were one of the following colors...
- Burgundy (like the common "red sister" Ti Plant)
- Dark Burgundy to Black (like the "Black Magic" Heliconia)
- Orange (like bird of paradise blooms)
- Yellow/Gold (to match the nearby Dypsis lutescens trunks)

* I'm trying to avoid bright red since my yard has more burgundy than pure reds. The "Hot Rio Nights" variety is so tempting due to its tall height, but the color is too red for my yard.

Thanks for any advice!

Stacey Wright  |  Graphic Designer

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13 hours ago, mnorell said:

Shawn--

H. lingulata is good to about 20F during the winter in the Deep South. It collapsed on me below that temperature in Natchez (chilly 9a). Since you say you are an 8a...you have some challenges. I would suggest you plunge a large, potted plant in your garden, in full sun, to get flowering (yes, it flowers in one season with this species...IN FULL SUN.) They do so much better if the roots can get into the ground, even if just for one season. You can then lift it in November and repeat the process after the last frost of spring. Otherwise it is a tough plant! I would suggest, if you lose the one you have, that you drive down to Florida and get yourself a nice, large nursery-grown plant, to avoid the issue with rotting rhizomes...

I would strongly suggest you get yourself a nice plant of Heliconia 'Mexican Gold.' I had this plant survive the 13F we had in Natchez in 2018, and it bloomed the next fall. But again, you will want to plant it in FULL SUN to ensure it blooms in one season. Everything else that could bloom in a single season that I tried was pretty much gone below a classic Deep South-style wet, hard freeze below about 20F. Those that survived were second-season bloomers...thus a negative in a less-than-10a climate.

One problem is starting with rhizomes, which can be a challenge north of Florida since they are slow to get going and roots can rot very easily when young. Your best bet, as I mentioned above, is to do a plant-gathering trip to Central or Southern Florida nurseries, grab the Heliconias you want as nice, healthy plants, and work with those. They will be much easier to get going.

Best of luck to you in getting something to do well. It is a fun challenge, if you have the determination to get a result...

 

@mnorell Thanks for the tips. my backyard gets over 12 hours in summer, and has no surrounding trees and faces south. If it has any chance of surviving it will be there.

 

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I have these 2 kids blooming now...Lobster Claw II is really reliable for me. And Rostrata always comes through

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"You can't see California without Marlon Brando's eyes"---SliPknot

 

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8 hours ago, iDesign said:

It's unfortunately H. schiedeana. At the time I purchased it, I was told this one was the ONLY Heliconia that could survive in CA, but being that I'm 10A (and willing to put in some maintenance work) I'm now thinking I could try something slightly more exotic. I'm also not a big fan of the bloom on schiedeana, so didn't shed any tears removing it. Will probably just give it away.

You're obviously a Heliconia expert, so I was wondering if you could recommend a relatively tall type that is either not overly aggressive (in my area) or could handle being in a pot. There's a spot in my yard where a tall Heliconia would look particularly amazing.

I'm picky on color though... Ideal would be if the blooms were one of the following colors...
- Burgundy (like the common "red sister" Ti Plant)
- Dark Burgundy to Black (like the "Black Magic" Heliconia)
- Orange (like bird of paradise blooms)
- Yellow/Gold (to match the nearby Dypsis lutescens trunks)

* I'm trying to avoid bright red since my yard has more burgundy than pure reds. The "Hot Rio Nights" variety is so tempting due to its tall height, but the color is too red for my yard.

Thanks for any advice!

You'll get burgundy (or close) with Heliconia bourgaeana (bract-color is variable by seed), a Mexican species that has some hardiness; and with its hybrid child, 'Pedro Ortiz.' You probably stand a better chance with 'Pedro' because it exhibits strong hybrid vigor, is cold-tolerant and is quite a dramatic and showy plant. For its parent H. bourgaeana, there are supposedly hardier and less hardy forms out there (the old Desert to Jungle Nursery clone being the one mentioned most often as easier to grow and bloom in the cool coastal Sunset zone 23-24 areas). But if you don't want to take the easier route with 'Pedro,' you could just try any seedling or clone of H. bourgaeana and see if it will do it. Could be a long-winded proposition.

For orange you can try Heliconia latispatha 'Orange Gyro'; also Heliconia 'Mexican Gold.' These are quite temperature-tolerant but I can't speak for 'Mexican Gold' near the California coast as it might be too cold for it to bloom well (I think it would definitely be a second-season bloomer there since it needs to manufacture a certain number of leaves in order to initiate an inflorescence). Heliconia latispatha is one of the toughest of the genus in terms of tolerance of sun, heat, cold and generally rough, exposed conditions. And you can find tall and short, compact and "running" forms with a number of color variations. And it's known to bloom in a range of climate zones in California--as noted in OB Burt's original post, above.

Keep in mind that full sun in cool coastal climates can be tough on most commonly available Heliconias, particularly when the plants are subjected to either the strong chilly winds off the ocean or the hot, dry Santa Anas. Heliconias need to adapt to their surroundings (they toughen up in the consistently drier inland/desert areas and remain more delicate--and ultimately vulnerable to sun and dessicating dryness--at the cool, humid coast). The best position is always going to be the classic wind-protected, south-facing "suntrap" spot with a nice tree overhead and feathery foliage that functions like 30% shadecloth in the period of high sun, plus dense shrubbery, a wall or fence to the north and west; and full exposure to eastern (morning) sun (and southern sun in the low-sun period). Unfortunately most of us only have one or two such goldilocks locations, and they're probably already taken up with something else.

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Michael Norell

Rancho Mirage, California | 33°44' N 116°25' W | 287 ft | z10a | avg Jan 43/70F | Jul 78/108F avg | Weather Station KCARANCH310

previously Big Pine Key, Florida | 24°40' N 81°21' W | 4.5 ft. | z12a | Calcareous substrate | avg annual min. approx 52F | avg Jan 65/75F | Jul 83/90 | extreme min approx 41F

previously Natchez, Mississippi | 31°33' N 91°24' W | 220 ft.| z9a | Downtown/river-adjacent | Loess substrate | avg annual min. 23F | Jan 43/61F | Jul 73/93F | extreme min 2.5F (1899); previously Los Angeles, California (multiple locations)

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Thank you so much for the personalized recommendations @mnorell - I'll see if I can track those down!

P.S. Any chance Zingiber (beehive ginger) might work at my location? I ask because Heliconia sellers often sell Zingibers as well (so thought you might know). I would be willing to do some minimal protection (like cover with frost cloth during a particularly cold spell)... but probably don't love it enough to bring it in the house. :blink:

Stacey Wright  |  Graphic Designer

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I don't think Zingiber is a particular challenge, unless some of them have heat requirements to bloom. I'm used to seeing them in the Deep South and in Florida, where they are rather cold-hardy and can return easily after wet freezes, but the winters are relatively short there and they get a long, hot, humid warm season in which to grow and bloom. I know that Costus has at least a few species that do well in SoCal. In fact most of the gingers are fairly easy with some microclimate adjustments, with a few notable, tender exceptions that just despise long, wet cold seasons (think Alpinia purpurata and Etlingera)

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Michael Norell

Rancho Mirage, California | 33°44' N 116°25' W | 287 ft | z10a | avg Jan 43/70F | Jul 78/108F avg | Weather Station KCARANCH310

previously Big Pine Key, Florida | 24°40' N 81°21' W | 4.5 ft. | z12a | Calcareous substrate | avg annual min. approx 52F | avg Jan 65/75F | Jul 83/90 | extreme min approx 41F

previously Natchez, Mississippi | 31°33' N 91°24' W | 220 ft.| z9a | Downtown/river-adjacent | Loess substrate | avg annual min. 23F | Jan 43/61F | Jul 73/93F | extreme min 2.5F (1899); previously Los Angeles, California (multiple locations)

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I think of all the heliconias Pedro Ortiz is my favorite. They had a HUGE stand (and I do mean HUGE, like a whole front yard's worth) in the mid-1990's at Excelsa Gardens in So FL when I visited there. The blooms are spectacular.

We are able to grow most of the gingers here in zone 9A Florida. The curcuma, zingiber, kaempferia and globba have a natural dormancy period that coincides with late fall early winter here in the US. They will reappear year after year. We historically had pretty dry winters here, but they have slowly been getting wetter over time as the climate changes, and winter is a lot milder and shorter. All of the above that I have planted in my yard start disappearing around late October into November, then reappear in March. 

Hedychium, Costus and Alpinia are evergreen here unless they freeze to the ground. If they do they come right back putting out new shoots even in the middle of winter, and will regrow unless they freeze again. They are well underway by March and the Hedychiums start blooming in May. 

The only gingers I keep greenhoused are the 'weird' ones and the too-tropical for Zone 9 ones...Costus stenophyllus, Etlingeras, and Alpinia purpurata.

Having also lived for a period of years in Culver City,  I could probably have grown any of these plants outdoors there except the ones I have greenhouse HERE. It only froze once in almost 8 years I lived there but the nights, even in summer, were usually only in the 50's and might be too cold over time to bloom some of the more unusual ones

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12 hours ago, iDesign said:

Thank you so much for the personalized recommendations @mnorell - I'll see if I can track those down!

P.S. Any chance Zingiber (beehive ginger) might work at my location? I ask because Heliconia sellers often sell Zingibers as well (so thought you might know). I would be willing to do some minimal protection (like cover with frost cloth during a particularly cold spell)... but probably don't love it enough to bring it in the house. :blink:

These are things I believe would do well for you, without your having to 'overwinter' them, either because they function as 'die back perennials' or have the natural dormancy period I alluded to above. I'll do them in groups with representative photos of each type.

Costus. Even if these freeze to the ground they are back and blooming by  now. All these froze in the 2 night winter mayhem we had in February, 24-25F just 2 nights. That was winter. Done. Over. But it was enough LOL. 1. C. vargasii Raspberry Yogurt. Basillar blooms later on. 2. C. 'Pina Colada', a nice salmon-pink departure from the usual red 3. Eskimo Kiss, one of the usual reds 4. Costus African Princess, has what is called a crepe flower bloom in Bright Pink 5. Constus amazonicus variegated

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@iDesign second group, Zingibers. Besides the regular old Shampoo ginger there are some nicer ones like these...Zingiber malaysianum 'Midnight' has almost black leaves and blooms with cute orange pinecones in a basilar fashion. Zingiber collinsii Silver Stripes is one of the best foliage gingers around.  Also has basilar orange cones

 

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12 hours ago, iDesign said:

Thank you so much for the personalized recommendations @mnorell - I'll see if I can track those down!

P.S. Any chance Zingiber (beehive ginger) might work at my location? I ask because Heliconia sellers often sell Zingibers as well (so thought you might know). I would be willing to do some minimal protection (like cover with frost cloth during a particularly cold spell)... but probably don't love it enough to bring it in the house. :blink:

@iDesign I have a Zingiber spectabile here in 8a growing (deep south - central alabama). I acquired it as a very tiny plant and as of this year has got some decent size on its rhizomes. Its returned from being well mulched and temps as low as 16F (brief). It hasn't flowered yet - and its my understanding they take a few years to mature so we shall see if it does here.

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3rd group, Curcumas. The variety is endless. You can choose from Spring bloomers, early summer bloomers and fall bloomers so that you have flowers all the time from one group or another. Endless colors too

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4th group...Kaempferias. The Peacock Gingers. Lots of exciting ones. Natural dormancy, no worries

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group 4...Hedychiums (butterfly gingers) and Alpinia (shell ginger). I have Hedychiums in all colors everywhere. Orange, yellow, peach, white and pink. I also have the one that is the closest to red. from India, H. rubrum. Hummingbords LOVE these. Mine go from zero (ie froze to the ground) to 5-9 ft tall from March to May and then start blooming

 

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LOVE the Zingiber recommendations!!!

These two Curcumas are especially catching my eye (though they're all gorgeous). Can I get names for these two variations (the one with 1/2 white 1/2 green leaves reminds me of Monstera Albo) :wub:

 

2 hours ago, metalfan said:

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And now the yucky question(s)...

- Are any of the plants listed in your recommendations (other the overly aggressive Heliconia's like schiedeana or psittacorum) likely to become a maintenance nightmare if in the ground (in my Southern CA location)?

- Alternatively, would these plants do ok in a pot? One compromise I do with some of my more invasive plants is put them in a buried nursery pot... but it sounds like that might not be a good plan with this family of plants (due to root rot potential).

Stacey Wright  |  Graphic Designer

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The one with the variegated leaves is a Hedychium (butterfly ginger) the curcuma in that photo is to the left, the yellow and purple flowers.

The Hedychium is 'Tahitian Flame'. I am actually NOT certain if Tahitian Flame and the variety called Dr. Moy 'Improved' are the same plant. The original green and white Hedychium was called Dr. Moy. But its not highly variegated. Then Tahitian Flame came along about the same time Dr Moy Improved did. I don;t know if Tahitian Flame is just a marketing name, or what. SOmeone else here may know

The curcuma in the first photo with the red stems is called Scarlet Fever'

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