Heliconia wilsonii, an uncommon species that naturally grows in Costa Rica and Panama, has finally flowered in Singapore after about three years. Grown from seeds, this plant could have flowered earlier as it was transplanted from an outdoor location a year ago into a container where it has been growing for about a year.
Its inflorescence, from a far, looked like those produced by Heliconia psittacorum cultivars. The bracts are bright red in colour while the true flowers inside are bright yellow in colour – what a perfect contrast of tropical colours!
This is the first time it flowered and it is not certain whether it will be floriferous under local conditions. There is limited information about this plant and the only profile can be found in the book ‘Heliconia – An Identification Guide’ by Berry and Kress. Internet resources are very scarce and an online herbarium resource (Las Cruces Herbarium Collection) at the time of writing this entry featured specimens collected in localities with highland altitudes above 1000 m. This may suggest a shy flowering habit of this heliconia in lowland, tropical Singapore. Hence it may grow but flower less often here.
The plant is grown under partial shade conditions with well-draining soil. Currently, it measures about 1 m in height and grows as a tight clump with a distinctive cannoid growth habit. Not particularly fast-growing, it will surely make a less invasive and much welcomed mid-ground to foreground heliconia species for outdoor tropical landscapes, provided it flowers often enough locally.