The active underground part of the plant is called the rhizome. The plant forms either a clump that expands slowly or spreading rhizomes that colonize an area.
In some species of gingers the rhizome forms a storage tank during the cooler wintertime. These gingers go to sleep to protect themselves before coming back to life when it warms up. Then you see their shoots
HOW DO I GROW THESE PLANTS?
Heliconias prefer a well-drained moist soil with a consistent water supply. Here water wise gardening can be applied with the use of mulch and garden recycling, along with regulated sprinkler use.
Remember that they do prefer a consistent water supply so will go backwards if allowed to dry out.
Gingers like a range of soil situations but again they prefer a moist soil climate. They can be used in run off areas and help to soak up boggy or clay soils.
WHAT ABOUT FERTILIZERS?
As all these plants are tropical in nature they require consistent feeding to meet their growing needs.
They will grow better with consistent feeds during the year and will look lush and flower well. If they are starved of either food or moisture they will go backwards and may be susceptible to disease, just like other plants. Use any organic fertilizer. If growing them in containers then use more regular feeding and do not over water but keep moist. It is a good idea to change the soil each year in the containers for active growth.
HOW MUCH SUN?
Both these plant families like a light filtered to half sunny position with some Heliconias liking full sun. If growing your plants in a sunny spot remember to provide adequate mulch and moisture.
WHEN DO THEY FLOWER?
Heliconias flower at varying times throughout the year; with some species having more than one flowering in a year.
When the flower is ready to pick or if it has become tired and old, cut the whole stem down at the ground level, as there will not be a second flowering on that stem - One stem; one flower.
It is better if you cut back any old or non-flowering stems as a way to stimulate the plant and keep it actively growing
HOW DO I CARE FOR MY FLOWERS?
The flowers are long lasting on the plant but if you wish to pick them for the house then they can last for several days to two weeks in the vase. Cut them the length you require, strip off any excess stem sheaths, wash to freshen the flower and arrange. Keep the water fresh and sprinkle the flowers with water daily to help them stay fresh.