Those are great links, Metro. Roxanne, I think the important thing that most people don't do is to cut out any stems that have already bloomed, or any old stems that have ratty looking leaves even if they didn't bloom. This encourages the plant to put up new stems with fresh nice looking leaves that might bloom.
It's hard to kill a heliconia, as long as you keep them fairly warm. So now that you've got them in the greenhouse, be brutal and cut off any stems that aren't looking good. Water and fertilize as long as the (greenhouse) weather's warm, and the plant should put up healthy new growth.
Mine are in the ground, and die back completely if the weather gets cold. But they jump right up once it warms again. They might not bloom until the sun gets stronger in the spring, but it's unlikely they will die even if you let them go dormant and store them under the greenhouse bench.
Thanks dyzz! I always cut my cannas back and dig them up then just throw them in my garage. I have gingers now too. They look pretty good in the greenhouse. Maybe I'll just cut the heliconia back and see what happens. You thihnk it's ok to fertilize them now?
It depends upon how warm you keep your greenhouse, really. If you keep it warm enough for the plants to keep growing, then a bit of light (1/2 strength or less) fertilizer would be good. IF you just keep it warm enough so things don't go dormant or freeze, probably not.
I don't fertilize mine - heli's, gingers or cannas - in the winter. Last winter - a warm one - they stayed green and nice looking all winter but didn't put up new growth until the nights started getting warm - 50's or higher. When I see signs of new growth then I fertilize lightly.
Once it's warm enough that we need the a/c in the house to sleep, I am fertilizing at full strength.
Anna, if you'll d-mail me in the spring, I'll send you some starts from mine if you'll reimburse me the postage. I have Lobster Claw, Lady Di (red/cream) and a red/orange one that pops up randomly all over the garden.
No use dividing them now, the stems are huge, and they're on the decline since we've had a few cold nights. But when they start popping up next spring that would be a good time to divide and send you some starts. Warm enough in Wisconsin not to worry about the plants freezing in transit, too!
The first 2 are Psittacorum Heliconias, they become very invasive in warmer climates. But they look nice, there's a few different colours including yellow. The 4th one looks like Heliconia rostrata. You can get smaller varieties of those or larger (over 2 metres tall). They can be fairly prolific too.
Luckily, it gets just barely cold enough here in winter to discourage the invasive nature of these guys. They are fairly widely used as landscape features in the shade here. Further south, you mostly see them in big pots or planters that are contained.
I have the orange Psittacorums randomly popping up in a shady border under a big oak tree, and sometimes they wander out into the gravel pathway, but I just yank them up and plant them back in the border. Planted the red/cream ones this summer again under a big oak tree next to the driveway. I'm confident they'll only stray as far as the sprinkler sprays. They do like lots of water!
The Rostratas do much better if I keep them in a pot so I can coddle and protect them. I only got one bloom this year because they're in the border, battling with the oak tree roots. We had two winters that were record cold in '09 and '10 and there weren't any blooms at all after they re-appeared in late spring.