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Plant Profile: Heliconia humilis

Heliconia humilisBotanical name: Heliconia humilis

Family: Heliconiaceae

Type: Tropical annual

Size: From 60cm to 90cm

The name 'Lobster Claw ' as it is known, describes perfectly the stunning red flowers with the leaves and flowers often being used in floral decorations as they can stay fresh for up to a month.

Heliconias are native to Central America, the Caribbean islands, South America and some of the islands of the South Pacific.

The claw-shaped flower bracts are tinged with green and stand erect off the stem.

The plant has heavily pleated leaves, similar to those of the banana plant, that are rich green with a red stripe down the centre.

Heliconias are an excellent choice for containers that can be grown indoors for the winter and outdoors during the summer.

Ideal Conditions

Heliconias like well-drained soil and plenty of sun. They do not like cold weather, or even the slightest frost, so in colder areas they need to be grown under glass.

They flower both in summer and autumn.


Propagate either by suckers or simply from a division of the root.

They do not need pruning and are not prone to attack by pests or diseases.

Reproduced with permission from NZOOM Home and Garden content,
from the previous website of  TVNZ News

The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the RNZIH

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Last updated: June 2, 2004