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Heliconia Species, Crab Claws, False Bird of Paradise, Hanging Claw

Heliconia rostrata

Family: Heliconiaceae
Genus: Heliconia (hel-ih-KOH-nee-uh) (Info)
Species: rostrata (ro-STRAY-tuh) (Info)
Synonym:Bihai rostrata
Synonym:Heliconia poeppigiana


Tropicals and Tender Perennials

Water Requirements:

Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings

Sun Exposure:

Partial to Full Shade



Foliage Color:





36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)

10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)

12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)


36-48 in. (90-120 cm)


USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Where to Grow:

Can be grown as an annual

Suitable for growing in containers


Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:




Bright Yellow

Chartreuse (yellow-green)

Bloom Characteristics:

Flowers are good for cutting

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Mid Spring

Late Spring/Early Summer

Mid Summer

Late Summer/Early Fall

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:

By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)

Seed Collecting:

Unknown - Tell us


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Boca Raton, Florida

Cape Coral, Florida

Clearwater, Florida

Fort Lauderdale, Florida(2 reports)

Hollywood, Florida(2 reports)

Lake Worth, Florida

Loxahatchee, Florida

Miami, Florida(2 reports)

North Miami Beach, Florida

Orlando, Florida(2 reports)

Pompano Beach, Florida(2 reports)

Punta Gorda, Florida

Sarasota, Florida

Satellite Beach, Florida

Sebring, Florida

Tampa, Florida

Venice, Florida

West Palm Beach, Florida

Winter Haven, Florida

Yulee, Florida

Zephyrhills, Florida

Hawaiian Paradise Park, Hawaii

Honolulu, Hawaii

Honomu, Hawaii

Keaau, Hawaii

Orchidlands Estates, Hawaii

Haslett, Michigan

Biloxi, Mississippi

Vieques, Puerto Rico

Lafayette, Tennessee

Galveston, Texas

Mcallen, Texas

San Antonio, Texas

St John, Virgin Islands

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Jun 5, 2014, juliefrdmn from Golden Beach, FL wrote:

I have about 10 Heliconia rostrata that are doing great in zone 11 South Florida, Miami area. They do best in partial shade but seem to thrive in any type of soil. They are planted about 800 feet away from the Atlantic Ocean on a salt water canal. They have no problem with salt tolerance or pests. They love to be watered frequently. They cannot tolerate wind and the shoots will easily break in high winds so plant them in a protected location. The ants seem to love the sap that comes out of the lobster claw flowers. The ants do not harm these plants and in fact the ants seem to keep other insects off my Heliconia rostrata. I have several plants that are 9 feet in height. My only problem is wind damage to the plants. The Heliconia rostrata gives your garden a real tropical feel. By Gregg L. ... read more


On Sep 30, 2011, eliasastro from Athens,
Greece (Zone 10a) wrote:

A stunning tropical with fantastic inflorescence, but not suitable for outdoor growing even in the mildest parts of my country, because of the cool winter.
Even dying back simply means no flowering, so a warm greenhouse for overwintering is necessary for blooming. The dwarf - mini variety is more manageable for overwintering indoors and may be tried in a south facing window, with some direct sun. The standard variety is far too large for indoor growing. This spring (2015) i managed to flower it indoors, so i will write some tips for indoor growing. 1) Prefer a medium sized pot (12-14inch/ 30-35 cm diameter is best) , as in large pots even 'mini' H. rostrata becomes huge. Also, i have noticed that in medium sized pots they flower easier. 2) Avoid moving the pot outdoors too early. I... read more


On Jun 23, 2006, cgstoker from Tampa, FL wrote:

My potted lobster claw died back during the winter months in Tampa due to lack of care but actually rooted in the ground around the pot and came back the following Spring. I then dug it up and re-potted them into 2 pots and they are doing beautifully in full sun to partial shade depending on the time of day.


On May 15, 2006, SteveStrelitzia from Cape Coral, FL wrote:

Despite tattered leaves from Hurricane Wilma and a Spring long drought, I resisted cutting the pitiful looking canes to the ground.

My Heliconia rostrata has rewarded me with multiple blooms on last years canes.

Things that worked for me.
1) Plant in a wind protected eastern exposure for morning sun only.
2) Fertilize frequently with a slow realease granular fertilizer.
3) Monthly fertilize with a balanced water soluable fertilizer.
4) Keep evenly moist with frequent waterings.


On Aug 7, 2004, tremax from Delray Beach, FL (Zone 10a) wrote:

They are doing beautifully in Delray Beach (zone 10).Growing in partial shade and proliferating nicely. Kept very wet.


On Jun 1, 2004, xyris from Sebring, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

I am pleased to announce that my smaller Heliconia rostrata plants have started to flower as of the last week of May. I have tried to protect these from the coldest temps of the winter, and it seems to have worked. Note that this area had NO frost or freezing temperatures in the winter of 2003-2004, a bit unusual for us. I also have a huge clump about 8 feet in diameter and 7 feet tall that I think is this species, but it has not flowered yet. I hope for flowers this summer, if so, I will post pictures.


On Dec 11, 2002, PanamonCreel from Celaya,
Mexico (Zone 10a) wrote:

Heliconia Psittacorum is the smaller species of the Genus and usually stays around 2 feet tall. Mine was actually sold to me as a Heliconia rostrata (Hanging Lobster Claw) which can get 3 - 9 feet tall.
I've got my H. Psittacorum sitting on an South window in full sun which it seems to enjoy. Rhizomes, side shoots on plant grow quickly and can push the pot to it's limit in a short time period.