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HELICONIA bihai

Image of Heliconia bihai

Mark A. Miller

Family

Heliconiaceae

Botanical Name

HELICONIA bihai

Plant Common Name

Firebird, Macaw Flower

Special Notice

This entry has yet to be reviewed and approved by L2G editors.

General Description

This heliconia also known as red palulu, firebird and macaw flower is a tropical perennial grown for spectacular flowers and tropical foliage. It is native to South America particularly Brazil and the Guianas. This large plant's banana-like leaves grow directly from thick, quickly spreading rhizomes or underground, lateral stems. The medium green leaves are held on long petioles (leaf stalks) and are easily shredded by the wind. Large, waxy flowers are produced on upright stalks which appear between the petiole and leaf blade late spring though summer. The colorful part of the flower is a modified leaf or bract and is generally crimson red edged with yellow and green. The bracts are shaped like a parrot’s beak or a lobster’s claw and stack on top of one another on the stalk. True flowers are white to yellow and held within the bracts. The spectacular flowers are often visited by hummingbirds. Seeds are held in the bracts and are violet.

This is the perfect plant to impart a tropical look to any landscape. Best in sunny to partly sunny locations, plant it in well-drained, moist, organic-rich soils. It is also a heavy feeder and requires regular applications of fertilizer and water when in active growth. Frost sensitive, it's a good tub or conservatory specimen where not hardy. The plants spread and may grow into an expansive clump, but less so in drier soils and regions where dry and cool winters force dormancy. Thin the plantings and dig wayward shoots to control the fast-growing plant. Use heliconias around pools, in beds, in the backs of borders and for fabulous cutflowers.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 10

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    10 - 15

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, H2, 24

  • Plant Type

    Tender Perennial

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun, Partial Shade

  • Height

    6'-15' / 1.8m - 4.6m

  • Bloom Time

    Indeterminate

  • Native To

    South America, Brazil

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Spreading

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Yellow, Red, Green

  • Flower Color Modifier

    Multi-Color

  • Fruit Color

    Violet

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Dark Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    Yes

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Bold

  • Foliage Sheen

    Glossy

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Container, Cutflower, Feature Plant, Houseplant, Mixed Border, Tropical

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    Sometimes

  • Attracts

    Hummingbirds

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes