How to Care for a Lobster Claw Heliconia Plant

Written by bonnie grant | 13/05/2017
How to Care for a Lobster Claw Heliconia Plant
Heliconia flowers are made up of flat pointed bracts in bright colours. (Kevin Forest/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Lobster claw heliconia is a tropical plant grown for its unusual red and yellow drooping flowers. The blooms are often used as cut flowers and can last for up to two weeks. The plant is a perennial with dark green thick leaves and an inflorescence borne on a 3- to 5-foot stem. The genus Heliconia is made up of over 100 species, all of which are frost tender. Lobster claw is suitable for United States Department of Agriculture zones 10 and 11. Lobster claw heliconia is grown from rhizomes and is native to the tropical Americas.

Plant the rhizomes in a pot in most zones. This makes it easier to bring indoors for winter. The plant can get 5 feet tall so choose a large pot that is glazed. Heliconia needs to be kept moist and a glazed pot will prevent constant evaporation.

Add potting soil and bury the rhizome until just under the surface of the soil. Water the pot until moisture seeps out of the drainage holes. Allow the soil to dry out between waterings. Heliconia is quick-growing and should sprout within two weeks. Keep the pot in a semi-sunny location.

Apply a slow-release fertiliser the first spring. Mix the granules into the soil in the amount recommended by the package and water in well. Use a liquid fertiliser during the growing season every month, dissolved into the irrigation water. Follow the directions for a half dilution.

Cut the flower stems to the ground when they have finished blooming. Bring the pot indoors when the temperatures are consistently below 15.6 degrees Celsius in the daytime. Plants that are planted in the ground will need to be dug up and brought indoors.

Divide the rhizomes every few years. Remove the plant from the pot and separate out the rhizomes by breaking or cutting them apart. Make certain each section has a good amount of roots and several sprouts. Plant the sections individually for more plants.

Things you need

  • Pot
  • Potting soil
  • Heliconia rhizome
  • Slow-release fertiliser
  • Water-soluble fertiliser
  • Pruners

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