Thursday, January 10, 2008

Heliconia Struggle

In my imagination I pictured my garden with many beautiful Heliconia’s all in flower both upright and pendant; in my mind it was certainly going to be a beautiful sight.
Over a period of time we bought a total of 56 different varieties, being told that all the varieties we picked would perform in the Brisbane area. We spent up to $75 for some of the better plants. All that was left was to wait for the flowers to come.
Well, we waited and waited and eventually found that only certain varieties would flower here and even then some of those would not survive a cold winter.
All in all it’s been a disappointing and expensive experiment.
Out of the 56 different Heliconia’s about 25 have survived with a number of those yet to flower.
So, here in Birkdale with poor soil and little water I can give you some recommendations based upon my experiences, the following Heliconia’s will grow, and believe me if these varieties can survive in my garden they will survive in any Brisbane Garden.

Here are my recommendations:
Caribaea ‘Kawachi’ has been a prolific flowerer.
Bihai ‘Lobster Claw’s’ one & two have also been good.
Bihai ‘Yellow Dancer’ has been good.
Orthotricas are perhaps my favourite Heliconia, but are temperamental, hate the cold and do not reproduce well here.
Augusta’s grow well ‘Red holiday’ and ‘Yellow Christmas’
The best of all Rostrata ‘Parrots Beak’, thank goodness it flowers well; in my opinion when in flower it is the most spectacular Heliconia of all.
Jamaican Dwarf has done well and always flowers.
Bihai ‘Chocolate Dancer’ is good.
Papsiana is good
Pseudoemygdiana ‘Birdiana’ has a great yellow flower and has survived for a number of years.
Hirsuta ‘costa flores’ is a great looking Heliconia and flowered spectacularly for me last year but was hit especially hard last winter’s cold, I am trying again, this time in a more sheltered position.
Spissa ‘Mexican Red’ flowered well but then died on me.
I know ‘Hot Rio Nights’ can grow well here but not for me.
I soon dug out the strictas as they were ‘travellers’.
Richmond red foliage grows well but has never flowered.
Chartacea ‘extra sexy’ and ‘sexy pink’ are not worth trying, not at all cold tolerant.
No luck whatsoever with Champneiana ‘Maya blood’ and ‘Maya gold’.
I am still trying with several others such as ‘emerald forest’, ‘prince of darkness’ ‘manoa sunrise’ ect.
I am not saying that given the right circumstances some of the ones that will not grow for me will not grow else where in Brisbane, given good soil plenty of water and a sheltered position they may do very well; all you can do is to keep trying.
Hope this is of some help to those of you who want to bring the tropics to Brisbane.


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Anonymous said...

I feel your pain. i lived in Cairns for several years and had a garden full of heliconias. never bought one, just swapped with friends. We now live out near Ipswich and I am determined to have some heliconias and gingers in my garden. None of the heliconias have flowered as yet and a couple didn't survive their first winter. I'm still hoping. Thanks for your advice. i love your blog and your garden.

Anonymous said...

We inherited a garden with these beautiful plants, however although I love the flowers I find it frustrating that more time is spent removing dead and browing folage. What am I doing wrong?
Do these survive in pots?

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Anonymous said...

Thank you for your informative blog Ian. We are just about to plant heliconias in our brand new garden in Manly West. We were given expert advice to use "Hot Rio Nights" and "Richmond Red" so we will try these. We also have some "rostrata" brought over from Wynnum that will go in the ground tomorrow. It was good to read which heliconias didn't work well for you. I also enjoyed reading about your costas as I will plant them out tomorrow also. We enjoyed your open garden very much again this year and I am looking forward to giving our purchases there a new home in our garden very soon. The black sapote fruit ended up on amazing cocktail! All the best for 2017's garden endeavours.

Anonymous said...

Where did you find the best place to purchase Brisbane/Gold Coast friendly heliconias from?