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HELICONIA angusta

Image of Heliconia angusta

James H. Schutte

Family

Heliconiaceae

Botanical Name

HELICONIA angusta

Plant Common Name

Christmas Heliconia

General Description

All heliconia flowers have hot, tropical appeal and Christmas heliconia is no exception. Its small, white flowers are nestled among spectacular upright spikes of red or orange-yellow bracts. This Brazilian native blooms from late fall to midwinter, hence the Christmas heliconia, and makes an exceptional cutflower.

This vigorous tropical plant forms clumps of vegetation that spread via creeping rhizomes, or underground rooting stems. The foliage resembles short, narrow, oblong banana leaves. In late fall, its flower stems rise above the foliage and have a "bud" of red or orange-yellow bracts (petal-like leaves). As these bracts open, small, finger-like white or pale yellow flowers emerge. The flowers are naturally pollinated by hummingbirds. Once they fade, the colorful bracts remain pretty for up to several weeks.

Grow Christmas heliconia in fertile, well-drained, friable soil. Continuous bright indirect light is ideal, but partial sun with midday shade is also suitable. This species appreciates moisture and fertilization during the growing season but do so sparingly to reduce its spread. Protect its large leaves from high wind. In subtropical regions with cool, dry winters Christmas heliconia may abort some foliage and bloom less vigorously. The popular selection 'Holiday' has lush, dark green leaves and white flowers cradled by cherry-red bracts.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 10

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    11 - 15

  • Sunset Zone

    H2

  • Plant Type

    Tender Perennial

  • Sun Exposure

    Partial Sun, Partial Shade

  • Height

    3'-5' / 0.9m - 1.5m

  • Width

    4'-20' / 1.2m - 6.1m

  • Bloom Time

    Late Fall, Early Winter, Winter, Late Winter

  • Native To

    Brazil

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Average

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Spreading

  • Seasonal Interest

    Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    White, Yellow, Red, Lemon Yellow

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Dark Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Coarse

  • Foliage Sheen

    Glossy

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Container, Cutflower, Groundcover, Houseplant, Mixed Border, Tropical

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    Sometimes

  • Attracts

    Hummingbirds

  • Self-Sowing

    No