James H. Schutte
Plant Common Name
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.
AHS Heat Zone
12 - 10
USDA Hardiness Zone
11 - 15
Partial Sun, Partial Shade
3'-5' / 0.9m - 1.5m
4'-20' / 1.2m - 6.1m
Late Fall, Early Winter, Winter, Late Winter
Container, Cutflower, Groundcover, Houseplant, Mixed Border, Tropical
Sharp or Has Thorns