Heliconia: a seasonal flower for India

Heliconia flower, which is a derivative of banana plant offer something new for the floriculture industry due to its striking colour and inflorescence. Major Heliconia producing nations include Barbados, Hawaii, Brazil and Venezuela also they are cultivated in Netherlands and Germany. This crop can be cultivated by using either seeds or rhizomes. Seeds require 1 to 12 months for sprouting while rhizomes 4 to 8 weeks.

India has an annual production of about 1 lakh stems which accounts for less then 1% of the total floral production capacity in the country. About 50% of the production come from coconut farm located in the west Godavari district in Andhra Pradesh. The flower is well adapted to all major agro - climatic zones in the country and can be cultivated even at a height of 3,000 to 4,000 feet. This is also considered ideal for cultivation in tropics and suitable for botanical conservatory. Varieties of Heliconia which are suitable for landscaping include Heliconia psittacorum and H.cv.Golden Torch. In case of H. psittacorum the yield is as high as 10 stems per plant while in case of H.bihia it is estimated to be around 5 to 6 stems per plant. Depending on the type of Heliconia variety grown the cost of cultivation could be upward of Rs.7,500 per acre, which can be easily regained due to the high yields. Due to the long duration of the flowers to bloon most of the small growers are not in position to wait still some individual have invested money and make efforts in growing Heliconia.