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The family of Heliconium (formerly banana). Homeland - Central and South America. The family includes only one genus - Heliconia, with up to 200 species in nature.
At home, Heliconia parrot Heliconia psittacorum is grown, its flowers are very similar to Strelitzia, but these are completely different genera and even families.
It is a perennial rhizome plant with a shortened stem. Plant height reaches an average of 1.2 - 1.3 m, no more. The rhizome is underground, horizontal. Leaves are shiny, dark green, large, leathery, 20 to 80 cm long and up to 20 cm wide. In shape and appearance, the leaves are similar to banana leaves - oblong in shape, with clear venation, curved slightly inward along the central vein. The leaves are arranged on the stem in two rows. The flowers are bisexual, erect, about 5-7 cm long, tubular, yellow or orange, and with long bracts (up to 15 cm long), with a black spot at the top. The fruit is a capsule.
Heliconia - home care
All types of heliconias are very large plants, many of them grow in nature more than one and a half meters, and at home they are the same giants. Very soon, young plants stop tidying up on the windowsill, they need space: a large pot for the roots, free space for leaves, a lot of light, fresh air, and a support for tying them. As you can imagine, it is practically impossible to provide such conditions in a standard apartment. But if you have a large house, where there is an extra 2 meters near a sunny window (better than a French one), it is possible to take the pot out into the garden for the summer, then you can easily grow Heliconia and even see its flowers.
Temperature: Heliconia does not like extreme heat, prefers temperatures no higher than 25 ° C in summer, moderately cool in winter at 15-16 ° C. Ideal for a warm, light greenhouse or winter garden. In nature, it grows in the sun (in the warm states of the United States), but outside it is blown by the wind, grows densely and never overheats, although very often the leaves burn out, curl up from the heat along the central vein, and if it were not for the beautiful inflorescences, the hyleconia bushes are absolutely not attractive.
Lighting: bright lighting, including some direct sunlight in the morning or evening in March through August, it is advisable to shade only a couple of hours at noon. In good light, flowering can take place throughout the year. In winter, at temperatures above 18 ° C, very good lighting is needed - full sun or additional lighting.
Watering: abundant from spring to autumn, slightly more moderate in winter. In nature, heliconias grow along river banks and in rain forests, therefore they grow well only with sufficient humidity. However, marshes in a pot will not tolerate; in order to avoid waterlogging and dampness, you need to make up the correct soil
Top dressing: a month after transplanting, or from March to August, spend 2 weeks with complex fertilizers for flowering plants, in doses recommended in the instructions. Heliconia is sensitive to a lack of phosphorus and potassium.
Air humidity: ideally, the humidity should not drop below 50% at temperatures above 20 ° C, therefore Heliconia responds well to spraying. On especially hot days in summer or in dry warm winters, you need to spray at least 3-4 times a day or put a humidifier. In addition, the leaves are periodically wiped with a sponge from dust.
Transplant: young plants are transplanted annually in spring, adults - after 2 years. The plant grows well and blooms in nutritious, well-drained soil. Use an earthen mixture: 2 parts of sod land, 1 part of leaf (or peat) soil, 1 part of vermiculite, 1 part of fine gravel (or pebbles 3-5 mm). There are a lot of holes at the bottom of the pot and a deep tray. A drainage layer from 5 to 10 cm (in a large pot) - such a planting allows you to water heliconia quite abundantly in hot weather, wetting the root ball well.
Reproduction: By dividing the rhizome in spring, when transplanting, or by seeds.