A Guide to Growing Heliconia at Home for Beautiful Flowers

The exuberance of its flowers with bright shades, its robustness and the freshness of its spikes, make it a plant that we want to have at home or in our workplace. Growing heliconia in pots is very easy; we'll tell you how here!
A Guide to Growing Heliconia at Home for Beautiful Flowers

Last update: 25 January, 2024

Heliconias are large, showy tropical plants characterized by their beautiful and colorful spikes of different shapes and colors. They live in warm, humid climates and have great ornamental value. They can even be used to reforest and protect water sources.

This plant is emblematic of the tropical rainforest and is known for its beauty and exuberance. It’s also commonly known as platanillo or toucan beak.

Having it at home can be beneficial, as it adds an exotic and attractive touch to any space, creating a good atmosphere in the garden or indoors. In this article, we’re going to tell you how to grow it in pots, so that your home looks beautiful and full of life.

The characteristics of the heliconia plant

Native to South America, Central America, the Pacific Islands, and some regions of Indonesia, most specimens are found in South America and the Caribbean. There are more than 200 species, so each can vary in size.

There are those that measure around 70 centimeters to the largest, which reach 10 meters in height. They experience rapid and vigorous growth in warm areas, as this is the climate that favors their development.

Another feature of heliconias is that they have large, alternating leaves similar to those of banana plants. The stems are thick and rigid, which gives them stability and resistance. They have different shapes, such as clusters or pendants, and are composed of brightly colored bracts that surround the flowers.

One of the singularities of these plants is their striking and colorful spikes. Heliconia stands out when potted, as it adds color and elegance. It can live up to 20 years or more, accompanying you for a good part of your life.

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How to grow heliconia in pots

Growing heliconia in pots is an excellent choice for home decoration. It requires simple care that can be done by any member of the family, in different seasons or periods of the year. Follow this seven-step guide to help you plant it correctly.

1. Select a good pot

Choose a pot that’s large enough to accommodate the root system when growing heliconia. Make sure it has holes in the bottom to allow for good water drainage.

2. Get the right fertile soil

rich soil
Make sure to use a soil mix rich in organic matter to allow your plant to grow and thrive.

Make sure to use a soil mix rich in organic matter during its growth. Apply a layer of compost around the plant, making sure it does not touch the stem. You can also add a little sand to improve drainage.

3. Give your plant an ideal position

Place the heliconia in the pot, making sure the roots are covered with soil. Do not bury the plant too deep; leave the neck of the rhizome, which is the part where the roots and stem meet, above the soil level.

4. Water your heliconia regularly

Heliconias prefer moist soils, so water every other day, but make sure that you don’t overwater it. It’s preferable to use a watering close to the stem and not just spray the leaves and flowers.

5. Keep an eye on the lighting and temperature

Place the pot in a place where it receives indirect sunlight or filtered light. Avoid direct exposure to intense sun. Heliconias prefer warm temperatures, between 20°C and 30°C.

6. Protect it from the cold

If you live in a cold area, consider sheltering the plant in a warmer place. You can also cover it with insulating material, making sure that this fabric does not touch the leaves and flowers.

7. Perform regular pruning and maintenance

Remove faded leaves and flowers to keep the plant clean and healthy. If necessary, you can trim off old or damaged stems. Removing these parts will improve its health.

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Tips for growing heliconia in a garden

The flowers of these tropical plants can also shine in your garden for their beauty and color. In addition, they will be attractive to hummingbirds. In fact, some botanists have discovered that certain varieties of heliconia only allow themselves to be pollinated by some hummingbirds, but not by all, demonstrating selectivity.

We recommend that you locate a visible space where you can plant them and take advantage of their beauty. It’s very important that you choose your variety according to the climate and conditions of the site where the planting will be done.

Remember to leave adequate space between each one of them, so that there is room for growth. It can be between one and two meters.

As they grow, keep the area around them free of weeds. You can also use a fertilizer for flowering plants to keep them healthy.

You can have tropical flowers in your home

By growing heliconias, you can have tropical plants right inside your home. The’re often noted for their showy spikes, variable size, large leaves, and stiff stems. Because they’re long-lived, they have become highly prized ornamental plants.

Following this care guide will allow you to enjoy them for many years to come. Just beware of pests. Nematodes, screwworms, and weevils are the most frequent aggressors. If you let the infestation evolve, the plant could die. So in the presence of a sign of infection, consult a specialist or your nursery.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Hernández Meneses, E., López Peralta, M.  & Estrada Luna, A. A.(2018). Micropropagation of three heliconia species of commercial interest in Mexico via direct organogenesis. Revista Bio Ciencias, 5, 1-16. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/
  • Krause, S. (2023). Morphological and molecular characterization of native Heliconia sp. accessions of the Amazon region. Ornam. Hortic. 29 (2).  https://www.scielo.br/j/oh/a/cQnLDyKRKzc7GnMCxdD97ym/#
  • Krishna, S. S., Jasmine, A. J., Sundar, S. T. B., Rajakumar, D., & Vethamoni, P. I. (2023). Growth Traits of Pendent Heliconia Genotypes in Kanyakumari Conditions. International Journal of Plant & Soil Science35(19), 726–730. https://journalijpss.com/index.php/IJPSS/article/view/3604
  • Malakar M., Paiva P., Beruto M., Da Cunha Neto, A.R. (2023). Review of recent advances in post-harvest techniques for tropical cut flowers and future prospects: Heliconia as a case-study. Front Plant Sci. 28(14). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10419226/

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.