- THE FACTS
- RELATED: How to tell the difference between Bird of Paradise species
- How to care for a Bird of Paradise outside
- How to care for an indoor Bird of Paradise plant
- Common mistakes people make with the Bird of Paradise plant
- Bird of Paradise, also known as Strelitzia reginae, plant care tips:
- How to Take Care of a Bird of Paradise Plant Indoors
- How to Grow a Bird of Paradise Plant Indoors
- How to Care for a Bird of Paradise
- Use these instructions to care for a Bird of Paradise plant. This guide will tell you how to water a Bird of Paradise; its light, temperature, and humidity preferences; and any additional care it might need to help it grow.
- White Bird Plant Goes Madison Avenue
- Strelitzia Nicolai In The Landscape
Native to Africa, strelitzia can grow up to 1.3 metres tall and spread up to two to three metres wide when aged, and has similar foliage to that of banana leaves. It’s an evergreen variety and is a tropical plant. There are three strelitzia species: reginae, juncea and nicolai, and all are used to make a dramatic impact in the garden, as hardy foliage plants or to create a tropical-look garden indoors and outdoors. The flowers usually appear between April and November, but may not appear until the plant is 4 to 5 years old. The Bird of Paradise plant is also poisonous to cats and dogs if eaten, so steer clear of this one if your pet has a habit of chewing on your plants.
RELATED: How to tell the difference between Bird of Paradise species
How to care for a Bird of Paradise outside
The garden experts at Bunnings suggest popping you strelitzia in a suitably warm and sunny position, and don’t forget to keep it watered in summer.
- Strelitzia prefer warm temperatures and sheltered areas that don’t get cold.
- Strelitzia prefer light, free-draining soil with an extra bit of fertilizer or compost every three months during growing season.
- Keep the plant in a warm and sunny position, away from draughts.
- Will tolerate minimal shade.
- Strelitzia like moisture during hot weather.
- Divide in-ground plants every 5 years.
How to care for an indoor Bird of Paradise plant
The horticultural gurus at Yates suggest giving an indoor strelitzia a solid start to life indoors.
- Keep the plant in a sunny, brightly-lit spot
- Water when the surface of the soil feels dry
- Be careful not to over-water, and reduce watering during the cooler months.
- When soil is completely dry, water enough to saturate the soil then not again until completely dried out.
- Use a high-quality potting mix to fill your pot and choose a pot at least 40cm wide pot with holes for drainage.
- Give the plant a feed once a fortnight during spring and summer, but don’t feed it during winter.
- Usually requires re-potting every 3 years.
Common mistakes people make with the Bird of Paradise plant
- Not enough sunlight and moisture means the flowers may not bloom
- Not dusting the large leaves.
- Over-watering is bad for this plant, only water when needed
- Most common disease are fungus-based, and root rot.
You might also like:
How to tell the difference between strelitzia species
5 ways to add colour to your garden in winter
The essential guide to Australian native plants
Looking for some advice on how to choose the perfect location for a plant outside? Watch the video below.
In Southern California this plant, with its bright, bold and easily recognizable flowers, is ubiquitous. It’s found growing alongside sidewalks and the streets, by the sea, poolside, in parking strips, in container plantings as well as in lots and lots of gardens. It’s common but loved nonetheless so much so that it’s the official flower of the city of Los Angeles.
Bird of Paradise, also known as Strelitzia reginae, plant care tips:
The unique flowers of this plant distinguish it & make it oh so popular.
This is not really a care tip but well worth a mention. This sub tropical/tropical clumping evergreen perennial can reach 6′ tall by 6′ wide. It’s the size of a shrub!
The Bird Of Paradise grows the best & blooms the most in full sun. It does okay in part shade & actually prefers this in blazing hot climates.
Here are a couple of Birds growing in shade in Santa Barbara. As you can see, the plant is less dense with longer stems as well as smaller foliage & flowers.
The crested orange & blue flowers are what this plant is grown for, both in the landscape & commercially. The flowers are long lasting on the plant as well as in arrangements. When you plant a young Bird Of Paradise don’t be surprised if it doesn’t flower for the 1st few years.
As the plant ages, more flowers will appear. Don’t rush to divide it because it blooms better when crowded. It blooms the heaviest, in Southern California anyway, fall through spring & then intermittently in summer.
The Bird Of Paradise looks & does the best with regular water – not too wet & not too dry. And not a few little splashes every now & then but a deep watering every couple of weeks in the hotter months. Because of the drought in Southern California, the foliage of this plant is not looking like it did pre-drier times.
The leaf edges turn brown, curl & split in response to not enough water. Another reason for the split, torn leaves is wind.
The Bird Of Paradise isn’t too fussy as to soil which is evidenced by the wide variety of places it grows in. It does prefer a loamy, somewhat rich mix however & needs good drainage.
It’s hardy to 25-30 degrees F. The Bird Of Paradise grows in USDA zones 10-12 & also in zone 9 with protection from prolonged freezes. You can grow it outdoors in the warmer months & move it indoors when the temps drop.
Not much if any is necessary. The majority of the ones which grow around Santa Barbara don’t get any. It would benefit from a generous top dressing of organic compost which would not only feed it but help to conserve moisture as well.
It’s not uncommon at all to see “double Birds” – that’s what I call them anyway! What happens is a 2nd smaller flower emerges out of & above the 1st flower.
I’ve only seen them with mealy bugs but have read that they can be susceptible to scale & spider mites as well. A good blast with the garden hose will send those pests flying. Just be sure to get the undersides of the leaves & in the nodes as well. A homemade spray with a mild, natural dish soap & water will help as well.
Bird Of Paradise don’t require much pruning at all. You’ll want to remove the dead flowers & any unsightly foliage. Just be sure to take the stems all the way down as close to the base of the plant as you can.
Here’s the picture I said that I’d try to find in the video. This is what the neighbors down the street did to the 2 Birds of Paradise on either side of their front steps. This “mohawking” is NOT the way to prune these plants! They eventually came back just fine but believe me, it didn’t happen overnight.
How to care for Bird of Paradise indoors:
–> High light is the key. Give the Bird Of Paradise as much natural light as you can – it needs this for foliage & flower production. Be sure to rotate your plant (unless it gets light from all sides) so it grows evenly.
–> Just like outdoors, it likes to grow crowded so don’t rush to do any transplanting. By keeping it slightly potbound you’ll get much better blooms.
–> You want to give keep it slightly moist by giving it regular water. In the cooler, darker months be sure to back off on the watering allowing it to dry out before doing it again. This plant is susceptible to root rot so don’t keep it “mushy”.
–> Our homes tend to be dry so you can increase the humidity with a saucer filled with pebbles & water. Set the pot on top making sure that no roots are staying soaked. Or, you can mist it a couple of times a weeks.
–> You want to plant it in a nice, rich potting mix. A few handfuls of coco coir added in would be greatly appreciated.
–> In terms of feeding, you can give your Bird Of Paradise a drink with a balanced organic liquid houseplant fertilizer in the spring. If it looks like it needs a little boost mid-summer, then do it again. You can also apply a 2″ layer of organic compost &/or worm castings in the spring. This works slower but the effects last longer.
–> The leaves would greatly appreciate a good cleaning every now & then. If you can’t put it in the shower or put it outside in the rain, then wipe the foliage with a wet cloth every now & then.
This plant is really easy to care for outdoors (it’s 1 tough puppy) but is a little more of a challenge indoors. If you like bold tropical foliage and big bright blooms then it’s so well worth the effort!
I’m including this because the flowers were regular sized but the plants themselves were only 1 to 1 -1/2′ tall. I had to sit down on the sidewalk to take the pic!
If you liked this Bird Paradise Plant Care blog you should also check the one I did on the Giant Bird Of Paradise.
How to Take Care of a Bird of Paradise Plant Indoors
Many people enjoy growing plants inside of their home. Bird of paradise plants is becoming a popular choice for gardeners.
They are brightly colored and lovely that attracts attention from visitors.
However, it is important to remember that when you opt to grow a bird of paradise plant indoors their specific needs. They are originally a tropical plant that loves sunlight. Here are some tips on how to take care of it properly.
How to Grow a Bird of Paradise Plant Indoors
1. Select the Right Location
Before you bring the new plant home, you have to find the perfect place. As we mentioned earlier, this is a tropical plant, so it needs plenty of direct sunlight.
Finding the perfect spot inside of your home can be tricky. The place needs to get at least five to six hours of full sunlight on most days.
A southern facing window may be your best option. If you live in a freezing region, you will want to move the plant away from the window, where it can be several degrees cooler.
2. Use Supplemental Light
If you are unable to find a window that provides this amount of sunlight or you live in a consistently cloudy location, you will need to set up a supplemental system for light.
You don’t have to do anything fancy or expensive. All you need to do is put the plant near the window with the most sunlight.
Then, either hang a light above the plant or put a table lamp nearby with a powerful light bulb. You can turn it on and off as needed.
3. Determine if Sunlight is Adequate
You’ve brought your new plant home and have it set up in its new location. Before you decide this is its permanent spot, you need to watch for signs that the plant is doing fine.
If your bird of paradise plant isn’t getting enough sunlight, its green leaves will begin to curl up. The plant stays green, so don’t judge based on color. If the plant is blooming, improper sunlight also decreases how often it does so.
4. Understand the Cycle of a Bird of Paradise Plant
Just like any other plant, this plant has a cycle that it follows. It is valuable for a gardener to understand, so you don’t think something is wrong.
These plants are green all year round, but they do have dormant periods throughout the year. During the warmer times of the year, this plant actively grows and blooms.
During the colder months, the plant goes into a resting period. Active growth slows down, and you probably won’t see any flowers.
5. Taking Care of an Active Plant
When your bird of paradise plant indoors is in an active period, you have to treat it a bit differently. Remember, this is a tropical plant, so it is used to high humidity.
You should mist every single day! You want to check the soil daily; it should stay moist at all times.
Also, it is important to fertilize your bird of paradise plant once every two weeks to continue its active growth. You don’t need to go out and buy a fancy fertilizer for this plant. A basic 1-1-1 liquid fertilizer is a perfect choice!
6. Taking Care of a Dormant Plant
The amount of sunlight shouldn’t decrease during inactive periods. However, you don’t need to mist it quite so often.
During the cooler months, mist the plant one or twice a week. Also, there is no reason to water the plant daily.
You should only water the plant when you notice the soil is becoming dry. Because the growth has significantly slowed down, you only need to fertilize it once a month.
7. Knowing When to Repot
In the beginning, you will want to repot the young plants, up to four years old, every spring. This process gives it more place to grow that year. The pot should allow it to have plenty of space to grow.
After the four years, your plant has reached maturity. A 12-inch pot is a perfect choice. You should start to notice regular blooming.
8. Caution against Repotting Too Frequently
As the plant grows, you may be tempted to repot it. However, it is important to resist this. If you repot the plant too often, you risk disturbing tahe root system, leading it to stop blooming for two to three years!
That is the last thing you want. Don’t be concerned at all if this plant becomes root bound. It actually prefers to be crowded in the pot!
A bird of paradise plant is large, reaching three to four feet at maturity.
Luckily, learning how to take care of a bird of paradise plant indoors is quite simple. With the proper sunlight and watering routines, it will last for years to come, brightening up your living space.
You can read more about 10 Of The Trendiest Flowers For Your Home And Garden
How to Care for a Bird of Paradise
Use these instructions to care for a Bird of Paradise plant. This guide will tell you how to water a Bird of Paradise; its light, temperature, and humidity preferences; and any additional care it might need to help it grow.
The Bird of Paradise can handle light levels from direct sunlight to low indirect light. However, it will flourish in a sunny spot.
Keep the soil moist, but not soggy during the spring through fall. In the winter, allow two inches of soil to dry out between waterings. The Bird of Paradise cannot handle ‘wet feet’, meaning its roots should not sit in wet soil. It’s best to keep your Bird of Paradise on the dry side.
The Bird of Paradise appreciates the occasional misting, which also helps remove the dust from its glossy dark leaves.
Average indoor temperatures of 65-80 degrees are just fine for the Bird of Paradise. It does most of its growth in warmth and heat. Therefore, its growth will slow during the cooler winter months.
The Bird of Paradise is a hungry plant because of how quickly it grows! During the spring and summer fertilize once a month with an all-purpose liquid feed. No fertilizer is necessary during the winter when plant growth naturally slows.
The Bird of Paradise likes a salt-free diet, so make sure you are using good water. You may need to switch to distilled water if you notice the leaves are turning brown. However, first try letting your tap water sit uncovered overnight to allow for the chlorine and fluoride to evaporate.
Toxins are found in the leaves and can adversely affect human and pets if consumed. Mild mouth and stomach irritation may occur.
When most of us hear of the “Bird of Paradise” we think of the commonly grown orange cut flower Strelitzia reginae not the White Bird of Paradise plant.
Strelitzia nicolai – Pronounced: streh-LIT-see-uh NICK-oh-lye
Although it is not as well known as the more popular orange bird of paradise (Strelitzia reginae). It is commonly known as the “White Bird of Paradise tree”, has grown in popularity for indoor use over the last 30 years.
Its large banana plant like leaves grown from its clumping stalks are loved and used by many in various landscape designs, especially when a tropical landscape look is wanted.
White Bird of Paradise Plants – Strelitzia Nicolai at Disney World Beach Club – Oct 2016
The leaves are arranged in a fan-like position on the upper erect portion of the plant’s trunks.
Each evergreen leaf is sensitive to strong winds. For a tidy plant, most growers periodically remove ragged leaves.
White Bird Plant Goes Madison Avenue
The “White Bird” has been grown for many years but it took a little Madison Ave. to bring it to center stage.
In the late ’70s the magazine “Architectural Digest” did a photo shoot of an apartment living room… the famous clothing designer (Haltson I think) in New York.
They needed very tropical looking plants to frame the apartment, featuring Central Park as its backdrop.
What do you think they used?
Orange Bird of Paradise flower White Bird of Paradise flower
You guessed it! The “White Bird” they picked up at a nursery in Homestead, Florida.
The shoot was featured on the cover of the magazine and people have been asking for the “White Bird” ever since.
The “White Bird” is native to South Africa. It is used outdoors in both Florida and California as a landscape plant, where it can reach a height of 20′ feet tall.
When lit with landscape lighting some very interesting looks appear at night.
The flowers can reach a size of 10″-12″ inches, but plants need some maturity (few years old) before flowering. Do not expect flowers indoors.
Nicolai can handle a wide variety of soils and can grow in a variety of conditions. One condition it cannot take is the roots in extremely WET soil.
It is best to keep Giant White Bird Of Paradise on the dry side.
It also likes a “salt-free” diet, so make sure you use good water and stay away from the lots of plant food fertilizers.
The “White Bird” isn’t a small plant, but it is a very upright plant so it can fit into some tight spaces. Their large banana-shaped leaves add a rich tropical look to almost any interior and outside they create cool effects when lit.
Growers usually use multiple plants to get a fuller plant. Sizes normally found are 10″ pots 3′-4′ feet tall, and 14″ pots 5′-7′ feet in height.
Indoors, it is best to give Nicolai as much bright light as possible.
Most diseases and pest problems occur when the plants are young and being grown in the nursery. But, always examine the plants and wipe the leaves clean.
White Bird Finds Place in Restaurants
The glossy leaves of White Bird of Paradise are sometimes used as plates to serve food in some seafood or native restaurants.
But because of these leaves, White Bird of Paradise has been loved by many as it provides a lush tropical effect on various landscapes, pool sides, patios, and even on containers.
White Giant Bird-of-Paradise Flowers
Giant Bird of Paradise plant flowers can be seen at the point where the leaf fan protrudes from the stem. These flowers are significantly large with a light blue tongue and sits in a purplish bract. Following these flowers are triangular seed capsules.
Most White Bird of Paradise tends to grow in clusters with multiple stems growing out of a single base. These stems make the White Bird of Paradise resemble the Palm tree except that it is thinner than most palms.
Under optimum conditions, Strelitzia nicolai is useful in creating a lush, tropical effect because of its eye-catching evergreen look.
White Bird of Paradise Plant Care and Vitals
- Grows Outdoors in USDA hardiness zones: 9B through 11
- Uses: planted specimen in landscape, deck or patio planted in container or planter; also used indoors
- Height: 20′ to 30′ feet tall
- Spread: 6′ to 10′ feet wide
- Growth Rate: moderate
- Flower color: white/cream/gray
- Flower characteristics: showy
- Pruning: little required
- Light requirements: full sun, partial sun or partial shade
- Soils: clay; sand; loam; acidic; slightly alkaline; well-drained soil
- Drought tolerance: moderate
- Salt tolerance: low
- Roots: not aggressive
- Pest resistance: resistant to most pests/diseases
Strelitzia Nicolai In The Landscape
The white bird or Paradise, with its large, upright, clumping stalks and banana-like leaves lend true tropical, exotic feel to any landscape.
Although the plants with their fan-like leaves resembling the travelers palm are usually smaller in the landscape, when mature the can reach heights of 20-30 feet. Over time the old leaves fall off exposing the trunk.
The white bird-of-paradise is an excellent plant for use in front entrances and creates quite a “splash” when used as a “pool plant” in pool landscaping plans.
Plants do need some grooming and leaves need to be removed from time to time, as the large leaves can be ragged from winds.
Give the plant plenty of room to grow, mature and develop. Once mature the unusual flowers of white accompanied with a dark blue tongue are welcome additions.
The Strelitzia flowering grows very well when planted in full sun in a well-drained soil that holds moisture. Protect the leaves from high winds as the leaves can become torn and ripped. Groom the plant by removing dead leaves.
Propagation from seed is slow but preferred. Propagation by division is possible but often the plant takes time to “look good”
Pests do not seem to bother Strelitzia Nicolai. Scale can sometimes become and issue. We use natural Neem Oil insecticide as our preferred spray for pest control. As for diseases, the White birds of paradise tree has no real problems.
Overall, planted in the ground or used in containers the giant bird of paradise palm is a wonderful landscape addition.
As mentioned above Strelitzia Nicolai may have become more popular since the 1980s. However, it has been admired as a graceful beauty all the way back to the late 1800s. In “The Garden” an illustrated weekly journal of horticulture had this to say about the “white bird” back on August 22, 1874.
This plant is one of the most graceful members of the Musal alliance and deserves to become popular in our gardens and conservatories as a striking and elegant decorative foliage plant. It is sufficiently hardy to withstand our climate during the summer months, and grows even more freely than most of the Musas when planted in a richly manured soil and in warm sheltered positions.
In habit, the plant is more robust than any of its congeners, if we except S. augusta, which frequently attains a height of from 30 to 40 feet, treated as a warm conservatory plant. Both the last-named plants are chiefly remarkable for their fine foliage, but some of the smaller-
growing kinds, as S. ovate and the even more beautiful S. regina, are well-known flowering plants, generally grown in a warm conservatory or in a humid plant stove.
These species will, however, both grow and flower well in warm sheltered positions out-of-doors, and form striking objects massed along with Musas, Palms, and the larger Arads.
Our illustration gives an excellent idea of the noble port assumed by well-grown specimens of Strelitzia Nicolai, which, although common as a half-hardy foliage plant in many Continental gardens, is very rarely to be met with in this country.
Strelitzia nicolai Regel & K. Koch from – Houtte, L. van, Flore des serres et des jardin de l’Europe, vol. 13: t. 0 (1845)