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Costa Rica - Heliconias

Discussion in 'Tropical Gardening' started by PeterS, Apr 13, 2018.

  1. PeterS

    PeterS Total Gardener

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    I have recently returned from a marvellous holiday in Costa Rica. Whilst I was looking forward to seeing all that they had to offer, I particularly wanted to see the Heliconias, and I wasn't disappointed - they were everwhere, both cultivated and wild.

    They don't have gardens in the same way that we do. there are no big houses with long borders. And as a result I was informed that Costa Ricans will recognise a genus, but they are not interested in recognising any species within that genus. That was a shame, as there are something like 260 different species of Heliconia, but neither our UK tour guide, and none of our local guides could identify any of them. Luckily I had my trusty book with me. :biggrin:

    2018_02130045H Rostrata.jpg
    H.rostrata. This is probably the best know and most often illustrated Heliconia. There is a huge example in the Kew Palm House.

    2018_02130148 H psitticorum.jpg
    H psitticorum. This is one that I am growing and has flowered for me in the UK. It's probably the most popular species with many cultivars. It only grows to 5 feet or so, making it a good candidate for a pot or a border (in warmer climes).

    2018_02130049 H psitticorum.jpg
    Mass H. psitticorum, growing in one of the hotel gardens.

    2018_02130001 H Chartacea.jpg
    H. chartacea. This is another well known one, with a famous cultivar called "Sexy Pink".

    2018_02130094 H velerigera.jpg
    H. velerigera. A very strange furry one, but as a result easily identified.

    2018_02130093H wagneriana.jpg
    H.wagneriana. Another popular species seen in the hotel gardens.

    2018_02130015 H caribaea.jpg
    We now move on to the wild, where we saw lots of different species, but one can only guess at their names. H.caribeae would be my best guess here. It's rather fine though.

    2018_02130082 H mariae.jpg
    This is quite distinctive, and i am inclined to say H. mariae.

    2018_02130060 H a.jpg
    I have no idea about the rest.

    2018_02130115 H b.jpg

    2018_02130061 H c.jpg
     
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      Last edited: Apr 13, 2018
    • pete

      pete Growing a bit of this and a bit of that....

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      Fantastic array there Peter, :blue thumb:
       
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      • KFF

        KFF Total Gardener

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        Thanks for sharing Peter, they are fantastic
         
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        • PeterS

          PeterS Total Gardener

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          Thanks Pete and KFF. The national flower of Costa Rica is actually an orchid, but I feel it ought to be Heliconia.
           
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          • redstar

            redstar Total Gardener

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            glad you had a nice time. we went last September not a good experience.
             
          • NigelJ

            NigelJ Total Gardener

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            I was struck by the similarity between some of the Heliconia flowers and Strelitzia. I quick search revealed they are related as both are in the order Zingiberales.
             
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            • PeterS

              PeterS Total Gardener

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              Why so - Redstar. I found there were some very good aspects and others not so good.

              I have found I like all the members of the Zingiberales, mainly because they are all soft tissued and like the heat and humidity of my conservatory. And in terms of flowers Strelizia and Heliconia seem to be the closest related.

              The other members are, of course, Bananas, Cannas, Costus, and Marantaceae. There is also the rather obscure Lowiacea, with a single genus Orchidanthea. You never hear about that one.
               
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              • redstar

                redstar Total Gardener

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                guess roaming dogs pooping on the beach, people out on the take, roads very poor to the areas of note, ocean water dark . just one country I would not go back to.
                 
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                • PeterS

                  PeterS Total Gardener

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                  I can understand that. We went as an escorted tour and were told not to wander outside the hotel premises by ourselves. So we never saw that side.
                   
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                  • strongylodon

                    strongylodon Old Member

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                    Fantastic photos Peter, I haven't seen Heliconias in the wild for many years.
                    I haven't got the heat to grow them here, the greenhouse can go to down to 3c in winter.
                     
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                    • PeterS

                      PeterS Total Gardener

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                      Thanks Strongy. I have recently taken an interest in them, as they seem to be the one tropical plant that you very rarely see or see for sale in the UK. I understand that they can require a minimum temperature of as much as 16C, which is undoubtedly the reason they are so rarely seen. I believe their hardiness varies and I gather that H. schiedeana is the hardiest of all and will actually survive -1C. But this tends to be in places like California where later in the day it can be much warmer.

                      I have just received 2 rhizomes of H. rostrata (from Himalayan Gardens Nursery in Scotland), which are now on a heating pad. So my fingers are crossed.
                       
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                      • JWK

                        JWK Gardener

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                        Very interesting Peter I had no idea there were so many different species.

                        I brought back three bare rooted plants from the workers market in Madeira and two of them have developed new sprouts from the base, the third looks to be slowly dying off. Mine have been indoors for the 6 weeks since we got back except today when it finally got warm enough for them to go outdoors and enjoy some proper sunshine. We have under floor heating which I assume has helped them get going so a heat pad should do the same thing.

                        It will be interesting to see how they grow. Think mine are H. rostrata although they were labelled in the market as H. biltai.
                         
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                        • pete

                          pete Growing a bit of this and a bit of that....

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                          Never realised it was that kind of place.:smile:
                           
                        • shiney

                          shiney President, Grumpy Old Men's Club Staff Member

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                          Peter, those are lovely pictures. :blue thumb:

                          We've been to Costa Rica a few times and always found it a lovely place to go. We used to wander around anywhere - within reason. I think it has become more awkward in recent years although we're fairly used to being in unusual places and how to be careful.
                           
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                          • strongylodon

                            strongylodon Old Member

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                            I didn't see any Heliconias in Madeira, only in the Botanical gardens in Puerto de la Cruz in Tenerife.
                             
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