Townsville Bulletin - Townsville Eye - - Garden -

Heliconias are vig­or­ous grow­ers in the trop­ics. Some are so vig­or­ous they can take over your gar­den if you are not care­ful. Do not be con­cerned over dis­coloured leaves or fo­liage that ap­pears to be suf­fer­ing from dis­ease. Many heliconias look ter­ri­ble dur­ing win­ter. Leaves yel­low dur­ing the cold and suf­fer from fun­gal leaf spots. The best so­lu­tion is to get rid of the of­fend­ing fo­liage. Com­mer­cial he­li­co­nia grow­ers rou­tinely cut plants back to ground level, re­mov­ing all fo­liage. Your gar­den may look tem­po­rar­ily bare, but the pro­ce­dure pro­vides a won­der­ful source of ma­te­rial for mak­ing com­post. Re­tain­ing old flower stems is point­less, as they will not re­bloom. A com­pletely fresh flush of new fo­liage is much more at­trac­tive than a mix of new growth and old fo­liage. If you find your clump has out­grown its po­si­tion and you need to re­duce its spread, di­vided sec­tions can be re­lo­cated with suc­cess at any time. Just be sure not to over­wa­ter re­lo­cated plants. If you are try­ing to grow heliconias in ar­eas that ex­pe­ri­ence frost, you are likely to be dis­ap­pointed. They do not like the cold. He­li­co­nia plants may sur­vive with lim­ited wa­ter­ing, but to pro­duce their best fo­liage and plenty of flowers they re­quire reg­u­lar wa­ter­ing in all but the coolest months of the year.

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