False Bird of Paradise

1 entry found.
False Bird of Paradise
Common Name: Heliconia, False Bird of Paradise, Pendant, Lobster Claw
Botanical Name: Heliconia spp. (hel-i-KO-nee-a)
Decorative Life: Individual flowers on an inflorescence can last several days depending on species. Combine this with the fact that there can be about 20 flowers per stalk makes this a reasonably long-lasting cut flower, about two weeks.
Post Harvest Care:
  • Recut stems under water and place into a fresh flower food, bleach, hydration solution or water. Use of fresh flower food or hydration solution can improve water uptake but only extends flower life minimally (if at all) over using just water. Dipping in some antitranspirant materials can extend vaselife but care should be taken to prevent possible plant damage. Do not submerge in water as often done with ginger. To remove the white powder that often covers the flower heads, stems and leaves, sponge the areas with a room temperature solution of soap that contains a few drops of cooking oil and then rinse with fresh water and allow to dry. These flowers need to be packed carefully because of the heavy weight so as to avoid shifting during transit, which can easily damage the flowers.
  • Flowers often do not continue development after harvest so choose most open for best display. They are chilling sensitive (see below). Pollination can induce very rapid flower fall with some species and cultivars.
Harvest Instructions: With one species, flowers lasted longer if they were harvested when no bracts were open compared to 1-4 bracts open. Some flowers are treated after harvest using various techniques to remove insects prior to shipping. For example, vapor heat (high humidity (90%) and high temperature (115F) for 1 hour has been shown to kill certain insects while not damaging the flowers (Hansen et al., 1992). Some postharvest insecticidal treatments have also been shown to be effective including Safer Soap and/or Mavrik Aquaflow used according to label directions. However, care must be taken to make sure that flowers are not damaged. H. wagneriana was determined to be a short-day plant. With H. psittacorum, various light and fertilizer levels during production did not alter postharvest performance.
Family Roots:
  • It is the only genus of the Heliconiaceae (heliconia family).
  • Native to South/Central America and the Southwest Pacific Islands.
  • They are close relatives of banana and bird-of-paradise because at one time taxonomists placed them in the same family Musaceae (banana). That is why one of its common names is False Bird of Paradise!
  • Have very colorful bracts held in pendulous clusters, each bract contains several florets.
  • Stem size varies greatly, 8 inches to 12 feet.
  • Plant is a tropical herbaceous perennial from rhizomes, classed as a monocotyledon, leaves mostly parallel veined.
  • Flowers are not fragrant.
Availability: Year-round.
Flower Color: Red, yellow, pink, orange, green and white.
Storage Specifics: Store at 55-65 F (three days or fewer), 53-56 F (more than three days). They are very chill sensitive.
  • Heliconia refers to Mount Helicon in Greece, home to the Muses, goddesses of the arts and sciences. They are said to be eternally young and beautiful, alluding to the long lasting and attractive Heliconia flowers.
  • Pendulous species include H. chartacea, H. collinsiana and H. rostrata. Often included in the Musaceae (banana) or Strelitziaceae (bird-of-paradise) family.
  • Major commercial cut flower production areas are in Central and South America, Hawaii, tropical Africa, Queensland (Australia) and southeast Asia.
  • Larger diameter and longer stems have greater vase life. Dies prematurely mainly due to poor water uptake.
  • Check stems and flowers for insects and remove them by hand if found. Ants are sometimes found feeding on plant exudates.
Recent Findings: Criley and Broschat (1992) prepared an excellant summary of heliconias, from production to postharvest. They list specifics on approximately 35 species and 88 cultivars.