Monday, 2 April 2012

Heliconia psittacorum "Andromeda" - was it destiny?

I love heliconias. I have several growing in my garden; all doing quite well. Getting hold of them has always involved driving for hours or fighting with flight hostesses. You can then image my surprise when I found Heliconia psittacorum "Andromeda" sitting in a 7 Eleven store in the Melbourne CBD on a recent trip:

I have psittacorum 'Golden Torch' and 'Nikki' as they are reputed to have some cold tolerance. I did a quick google search on 'Andromeda' (the convenience of an iphone!) and found it too is a possibility in Sydney.

For those who don't know, Melbourne's climate is a cold one and not a place where you would expect to see even the humble frangipani - much less a heliconia. Having said that though, I find many of the most dedicated tropical plant growers tend to be found in less than ideal climates - it must be that lust after what one can't have that sustains them - so perhaps this find was indicative of some very dedicated gardeners and thus there is a market for them.

How I managed to find it in a convenience store while holidaying in Melbourne I'll never quite understand (destiny?). They certainly aren't common plants south of the QLD/NSW border so finding it was a stroke of luck. I had no problem bringing it on the plane back (they wouldn't dare try to part me with it!) and now it is sitting in my garden waiting to be planted out:

All my heliconias have exceeded expectations, particularly rostrata. I haven't provided them any special treatment but they grow well all the same. As for the psittacorums, there is a lot of conflicting advice on where they will grow and which varieties are the more cool tolerant. I find keeping them quite dry over winter is all that is really needed to ensure they grow well in this climate.

Hopefully as people become more aware of them down here we will start to see more appear in local gardens!


  1. I find your passion for the heliconia so endearing. The anecdotes of you "fighting" with flight attendants is hilarious. I can image the scene and probably the cajoling involved.

    1. lol..I've transplanted so many plants on planes I know all the tricks...canvas bags to bend to appear small enough to go in the overhead cabin, using automatic check-ins to avoid questions, sympathy-inducing tales of plants to sick grandmothers..whatever it takes to get a heliconia in my garden :)


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