Planting bird of paradise

With its magnificent flowers and large green leaves the bird of paradise creates a tropical flair. Like an exotic fan, the orange-yellow and blue shining petals are stretching towards the sky. It doesn’t seem so, but the Strelitzia reginae is quite unpretentious. Good care ensures intensive growth and great blossom splendor. These are the care instructions showing you how to do it.

Plant Profile

  • Family: Strelitziaceae
  • Genus: Strelitzia
  • Order: zingiberales
  • Trivial names: bird of paradise, crane flower, Strelitzia
  • Origin: South Africa
  • Height: 80 cm to two meters
  • Position: in the pot or in the bucket
  • Flowering period: spring to summer, with appropriate care already starting in February
  • First flower: at the earliest in three-year-old plants, and at the latest in ten-year-old plants
  • fleshy, sensitive roots
  • large, evergreen leaves
  • herbaceous and perennial plant

Especially the blossoms of the bird of paradise are attracting the eye: their intense colours are shining between the large, robust and evergreen leaves. The Strelitzia reginae is also a popular cutflower because of its bright colourful blossoms which last for at least four weeks. However, if you want to enjoy this flower for years, you should grow it in a pot or bucket. With optimal care, it can grow up to the height of two meters in the bucket. In these care instructions, plant lovers can learn all important details about the bird of paradise.

In it’s homeland in South Africa, the bird of paradise is widespread. On the Canary Islands, it is often found in nature too. In the 18th century the Strelitzia reginae came to Europe for the first time as an ornamental plant and finally reached Germany at the beginning of the 19th century.

Since then, the exotic plant has been cultivated here. The Strelitzia reginae was named after the German Princess Charlotte von Mecklenburg-Strelitz. The wife of the English King George III, who lived from 1744 to 1818, was the Queen of Great Britain and Ireland. In 1773 the Strelitzia reginae was discovered by a British man and named after the queen.

Care

The Strelitzia reginae is relatively unpretentious and can also be easily grown in the Central European climate. It rewards a minimum of care with lush blossom splendure. If you take care of some basic nurturing principles, this exotic, not winter-hardy plant will thrive magnificently.

Location

The bird of paradise loves the sun. From May to September it should therefore be outside in the garden, on the terrace or on the balcony. A warm, sunny and airy spot would be perfect. Since too much wind may damage the leaves, a protected location is recommended.

The Strelitzia reginae also grows well in the semi-shade, but such a location inhibits flower growth. A too dark place can even lead to the complete absence of blossoms. Anyone who does not want to or can not put the bird of paradise in the open has to create appropriate conditions in the summer.

The following is important:

  • warm and bright location
  • fresh air with sufficiently high humidity
  • you must briefly and thoroughly ventilate the room several times a day at regular intervals

Since the Strelitzia reginae does not tolerate waterlogging and its roots tend to rot under such conditions, it should be in a pot or bucket, from which excess water can easily drain off.

Substrate

Potting soil or regular flower soil are very suitable for the Strelitzia reginae. What is important is that it is a nutrient-rich, receptive substrate, which is at the same time loose and moist, as well as air and water permeable. A somewhat loamy consistency is also recommended. In the early phase of cultivation, however, this ornamental plant benefits from a nutrient-poor substrate such as peat or cultivation soil.

Repotting

Strelitzia reginae is repotted when the pot becomes too small. This can be seen, for example, in the fact that the roots grow out at the bottom or the plant begins to shrivel. The best time for repotting is before or after the flowering phase. The bird of paradise has sensible roots, which must not be damaged.

Therefore, you should be very careful and, if possible, repot the plant not more often than every three years. At regular intervals, the uppermost layer of soil can be removed and replaced with a fresh substrate. When repotting, a pot or bucket should be chosen, which is not much larger than the one used before.

Watering

Since its leaves are emitting much humidity, the bird of paradise needs a lot of water, especially in spring and summer. The more leaves the plant has and the larger it is, the higher its requirement for fluids. It should therefore be poured generously on a regular basis – once a day is usually enough.

The following should be taken into consideration:

  • the substrate should always be slightly damp, but not wet
  • the plant does not tolerate any waterlogging
  • the substrate should never dry out completely
  • when the soil’s surface is dry again, it will be time to pour the ornamental plant again (if in doubt, make a thumb test!)
  • lukewarm and soft water is best for watering

In winter the Strelitzia reginae needs a rather cool spot, therefore it needs much less watering. The substrate does not have to be kept permanently moist, but should never be completely dried out.

Fertilizing

In spring and summer the Strelitzia reginae should be fertilized once a week. For this purpose some liquid fertilizer can be mixed into the pouring water. Fertilizer spikes are also suitable. A small amount of fertilizer is enough. If the leaves grow faster than the flowers develop, this is a sign that too much fertilizer is used.

Seedlings should not be fertilized because the seeds already have all the important nutrients. Not earlier than two months after the first shoots of a new plant are visible, it should be supplied with a very small quantity of fertilizer once a week, regardless of the season.

Leaf care

A little caring effort can already have a great effect. Therefore, in old plants, for example, old leaves should be removed from time to time in order to stimulate growth. Since much water evaporates through the large-area leaves of the Strelitzia, this measure also prevents it from unnecessarily losing a lot of water. Dry leaves and flowers should also be removed quickly. You should, however, avoid a cutting of the plant. If the plant is too large, it should instead be separated into several plants.

Wintering

While the Strelitzia reginae likes to spend the summer outdoors, in the winter it should definitely be brought into the apartment or into another protected interior like a stairwell. As soon as the temperatures fall below 10°C, the plant should be moved to its winter location. There it should stay at least from October to April.

The following conditions are ideal for wintering:

  • bright, not too much heated room
  • temperatures between 10°C and 15°C
  • little watering – the substrate should not dry out completely, but it must not be permanently moist
  • no fertilizer

The plant does not tolerate temperatures below 10°C or even frost. If it is exposed to it, growth and flowering can be inhibited. When it is wintering in a cool, bright room, the Strelitzia reginae will in most cases already begin to bloom at the end of the winter rather than spring. Also a limited supply of water will lead to early formed blossoms.

Multiplication

Two types of multiplication are recommended for the Strelitzia reginae.

Dividing

A bird of paradise can be most easily multiplied by division. When repotting, a large plant can be easily divided. The separated shoot should have at least three leaves – the larger the new plant, the faster it will form flowers. A cautious approach is important in order to keep the damage for the sensitive roots as little as possible. If a root breaks off, charcoal powder should be given to the wound before potting. Bent roots should be carefully cut off and also treated with the powder.

Seeds

The Strelitzia reginae produces pea-sized capsule fruits, which are woody and triangular. The seeds can be bought or taken from a mature bird of paradise. Since the germination ability will rapidly decrease with increasing age, the seeds should be germinated as soon as possible.

In this method of multiplication, however, the gardener needs much patience:

  • it may take several months for the seeds to germinate
  • the first flowers of the new plant are expected at the earliest after a growth of three years
  • the longer the seeds are left unused, the more time the plant takes to form flowers
  • in an extreme case, it may take up to ten years before a bird of paradise, which is raised from seeds, will bloom for the first time

Sowing

A protective layer of wax envelops the seeds. In order to shorten the germination period, the seeds can either be washed thoroughly with soapy water or carefully roughened with sandpaper. They are then placed in a container of warm water for twelve hours to two days to make them swell.

Cultivation

The Strelitzia reginae also benefits from a warm location with a temperature of around 25°C. Temperature and humidity should be kept as constant as possible during cultivation.

To make sure the young bird of paradise can grow properly, it should be planted as follows:

  • fill a small pot with a drainage layer
  • place the substrate on top and press it in slightly
  • press the previously soaked seeds about two to three centimeters into the substrate
  • press the soil above the seeds
  • pour generously so that the substrate is moist
  • cover the pot with a transparent bag to increase temperature and reduce evaporation
  • remove the bag regularly for ventilation

As soon as a shoot pushes through the earth, the cover must be permanently removed. The plant needs a lot of light now. Before the first shoot can be seen, a dark or shaded place is sufficient as long as it’s warm enough.

Pests

A too warm wintering place weakens the Strelitzia reginae and makes it susceptible to pests. An all to abrupt change in temperature can also harm the plant, for example a too fast transition from the cool winter location to the warm outdoor spot. The following pests will most frequently occur as a consequence.

Scale insects

Scale insects are mainly found on the bottom of the leaves. They are noticeable by honeydew and sticky leaf surfaces. Also round shields, which are light green to dark brown, are formed on the plant. These must be thoroughly, but also carefully removed with a brush.

The honeydew can be wiped away with a damp cloth. In case of an advanced attack, the plant should also be sprayed and / or coated with oil. That will make the aphids suffocate. In order to prevent infestation, you should take care for a suitable location as well as adequate humidity. The latter is already achieved by regular airing.

Botrytis cinerea

The botrytis cinerea is a harmful fungus, which is also known as grey mould. The name derives from the symptoms: The infested flowers and leaves will at first develop dark spots and are later covered by a furry gray layer of mould. Infected parts of the plant must not come into contact with healthy parts. They must be removed as quickly as possible to prevent the spread of the fungus. Regular airing will also prevent the infestation with this pest.

Sorts

The genus Strelitzia contains five different plant species. Only the Strelitzia reginae is cultivated as a room and basket plant.

1 of 4

Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia)

Bird of Paradise Care Guide

Light

If you want lots of growth, and eventually flowers, it’s going to need bright light and some sun. A east or west facing window should do. You’ll also do well to pick a south facing window if some shielding is provided from harsh summer sun which can burn the leaves of immature plants.

A north facing position ought to be avoided in the long term. Strelitzia’s will cope with a darker position for a time, but growth will be much slower and the likely hood of flowers is low. You’ll also get a more “spread” plant overall.

The amount of water needed will depend on where you end up putting your plant. Bird of Paradise plants in brighter, warmer spots are going to need considerably more than those in darker positions. A good rule of thumb is to water after the top of the soil becomes dry. Our favorite tip however is the weight of the pot trick. It’s very easy to pick up a young plant and so this method works particular well.

Humidity

If the air is very dry, an occasional misting would be helpful to aid in removing the dust that settles on the leaves.

Feeding

Strelitzia’s are typically hungry monsters, so plants which are rapidly growing need fertiliser once a month. Plants which are growing very slowly, so have little need for feed, cut back to bi-monthly instead. No feeding during the three or four Winter months is required.

Temperature

Average home conditions would be fine, especially if you have chosen a brightly lit or Sunny spot. It needs warmth and some heat to grow well, although a cooler temperature between 8°C – 15°C / 46°F – 59°F in Winter is appreciated so the plant can “rest”.

Repotting

In the early years this is fine to do each Spring using normal potting compost, however if you want fflowers or you’re trying to restrict the growth of the plant you need to keep it pot-bound. If it’s housed in a plastic pot, a large Bird of Paradise will eventually distort and bulge it horribly. Therefore prepare to cut it free when it comes to repotting and know that when you do it will likely result in a disruption to the flowering cycle.

We used one of these plants as an example attempt in our Repotting guide if you want some more tips or tricks be sure to have a read of it.

Very mature Bird of Paradise plants will produce offsets which can be cut free and potted up, although this can be difficult. A more convenient method is to try and grow new plants from seeds. Like the flowers in which they are created, they are quite something with their largish seeds that have a tuff of orange hair. Pull off the hair, pot up in soil and place in a warm place.

Germination is often erratic and unreliable but you can increase your chances by nicking the outer seed coat a tiny bit. This will allow water to move deep into the seed to trigger the germination.

Speed of Growth

The speed of Bird of Paradise growth in good conditions can be seen with roughly one new leaf each month during the growing seasons. Visually this may not seem much, but the thick roots beneath the soil surface are truly monstrous and will fill a pot in no time, making this quite a fast growing plant.

Height / Spread

The plants will generally head for height rather than spread. S. reginae grows to 2m / 6.6ft tall. S. nicolai eventually reaches 6m / 20ft tall. However both types will flower long before they reach their eventual maximum heights.

Flowers

If you’re having problems getting the flowers then the following steps should hopefully help. It’s hard work for sure, but when you see that flower spike developing and slowly growing over several months to reveal the beautiful flower inside… It’s a fantastic feeling for sure.

  • Maturity – The plant needs to be at least 4 or 5 years old before they are capable of producing flowers.
  • Pot-bound – You must keep their root growth restricted, and this is done by keeping the plant pot-bound. i.e. stop repotting into larger containers when your plant approaches its 5th Birthday.
  • Light – It needs sun or a brightly lit spot.
  • Feeding – If you have fed the plant as recommended in the Feeding section, then you shouldn’t have to worry about this. But if you don’t normally feed your houseplants and all the above steps have already been met, consider feeding. Never feed more than recommended though, as this is equivalent to a human overdose and can have equally dire consequences. If the plant doesn’t die then the leaf edges can become brown, dry and ugly.

About all else patience is the key because these plants will flower when they decide to. You can encourage blooms, but ultimately we have no power to order a King or Queen to do anything quickly.

Is the Bird of Paradise Poisonous?

The Bird of Paradise is mildly toxic to pets such as cats and dogs. The poisonous compounds tend to be concentrated in the thick roots, the seeds and flower heads rather than the leaves.

Anything else?

The flowers last a long time so they’re often worth the effort. If you get a seed pod when flowering finishes why not pot them up and give any seedlings away to family and friends.

As mentioned in our introduction, you can’t easily prune a Bird of Paradise plant without ruining its look and future growth so all you can do is to be prepared to accommodate its large size. You can of course prune out the flowers once they are finished, just cut them off as close to the base as you can.

Bird of Paradise Problems

There isn’t much that can keep Royalty down and therefore problems afflicting Bird of Paradise are normally rare.

No flowers on my Bird of Paradise

See the “Flowers” topic.

No growth

Strelitzia tends not to grow in Winter, in darker spots or just after a repotting (its energy is being spent growing its massive tap roots). If none of the above applies, make sure the plant is being watered adequately, or that it’s not in too small a pot. It’s true you need to keep the plant pot-bound to make it flower, but it still needs a reasonably sized pot to let it grow to a potential flowering size in the first place.

If you can cross off everything suggested above and the plant is otherwise healthy, leave it be and things should start up again in time.

Plant growth is leggy

A plant getting lots of light will produce new leaves which sit close to one another. A plant which is in a darker spot will produce leaves which are on longer petioles (the stem like part) and in more dispersed and wider positions. It does this to increase the leaf surface area exposed to light, in order to maximize the limited light it does receive. The simple fix is to provide more light so the newer leaves grow closer together.

Plant growth is weak

Many plants adapt well to living indoors as houseplants, but the Bird of Paradise suffers more than most if it’s locked up inside all year around. They love spending at least a few weeks (months ideally) outdoors in the Summer. Being exposed to the elements harden’s up the growth and will make your plant stronger. So if possible put it outside for a holiday.

Leaves curling on my Strelitzia

This is only normally seen in young plants. Although the adult plant likes bright light and some sun, the youngsters may struggle with it in the early years. When the light level reduces the leaves uncurl, but it’s probably best to move to a slightly darker spot until it’s older.

Leaves looking ugly and ragged

As a Bird of Paradise plant gets taller its perfectly normally for the bottom leaves to go brown, look ragged or even yellow up. The leaves don’t tend to fall off by themselves for a long time, so you’ll have to either pull them or cut them off.

If the upper leaves start to look in poor condition then its likely one of two things, far too much watering, or far too little. Assess which one it is and adjust your watering routine accordingly.

About the Author

Tom Knight

Over the last 20 years Tom has successfully owned hundreds of houseplants and is always happy to share knowledge and lend his horticulture skills to those in need. He is the main content writer for the Ourhouseplants Team.

Also on Ourhouseplants.com

Credit for the Yellow “Mandela’s Gold” / “Kirstenbosch Gold” photo to Martin Addison
Credit for the picture of the Bird of Paradise seeds to Sebastian Stabinger

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The Bird of Paradise plant, Strelitzia reginae (Stre-litzia regi-nae or Strel-it-zia re-ginae) is an evergreen perennial popular as a landscape plant.

This species is native to the coastline of southern Africa. In its natural habitat, these tropical plants grow in patches that can go on for miles.

Owing to the colorful appearance and open flowers that resemble an exotic bird, this species is also known as the “bird of paradise” or the “crane flower.”

On the other hand, the botanical plant name commemorates the nobles and royals.

The term ‘reginae’ directly translates to “of the queen” and honors the British Queen, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Sterlitz, wife of George III.

The leaves of the bird of paradise are evergreen and arranged in two ranks.

While the foliage is attractive, these plants are grown for their flowers.

The species crossed Europe in 1773 when introduced by explorers.

Since then, it has been grown all around the world as ornamental plants, especially in countries that enjoy sunny weather.

Strelitzia Bird of Paradise Plant Care

Size & Growth

The ‘orange’ Bird of Paradise grows up to 6′ feet tall. However, when grown indoors, this species can be contained to 3′ feet. Once the plant reaches its full height, sideway sheaths, more commonly known as spathe, starts to appear.

These sheaths act as the “beak” of the flowers and are generally strong enough to withstand the weight of multiple sunbirds, which enjoy the nectar and pollinate the flowers at the same time.

The foliage is considerably wide and bushy, with leaves growing up to 2′ feet in length and around 12” inches in widthwise.

Strelitzia reginae is a slow-grower and takes a few years to reach blooming size.

Related Reading: Learn more about Reginae’s sister – Strelitzia nicolai the White Bird of Paradise

Bird of Paradise Flowers and Fragrance

Bird of Paradise plants begin to flower once plants mature in 6 – 7 years. Once blooms appear, the plant continues to produce beautiful and colorful flowers for a long time.

With proper care and under the right conditions, these plants flower multiple times in a year.

Keep in mind that each plant will produce around 5 – 6 flowers in succession. The flowers stand above the foliage and generally stay in bloom for an adequate amount of time.

The flowers resemble the colorful crown feathers on the head of the crane.

The blooms sit on top of the spathe – three orange sepals sticking out from the spathe while blue or deep-purple petals hold the nectar of the flower.

Keep in mind that birds, especially sunbirds, like to feed on the nectar from these flowers.

Therefore, you are growing Strelitzia in your garden, be prepared to host frequent visits by birds.

Light & Temperature

These plants enjoy moderate warmth and bright light and require moderate temperatures throughout the year.

During the colder months of the year, Bird of paradise can tolerate temperatures of 55° degrees Fahrenheit.

Make sure your plants are comfortable year-round and receive the best growing conditions, maintain temperatures in the range of 70 – 90° degrees Fahrenheit.

In its natural habitat, Strelitzias generally enjoy an adequate amount of light.

These plants thrive and flourish best when they receive loads of light but look best when kept out of full sun.

Too much intense heat or too much sunlight can damage the flowers.

Choose a spot where your plant can receive bright, yet indirect sunlight.

Watering and Feeding

Bird of paradise require regular watering to survive the hot months of the year. During summer, it is important to keep the soil moist at all times.

However, as the temperature starts to drop, it is advisable to reduce watering. Water only once the soil is completely dry.

Keep in mind that these plants enjoy high humidity. If the weather is too dry, keep a spray bottle handy to mist your plants, especially when grown indoors.

Birds of paradise are heavy feeders. Applying fertilizer in spring will provide your plant with all the nutrients it requires to bloom.

Use slow-release granular fertilizer to feed plants during spring and summer.

During the flowering season, liquid plant food can also be used on a weekly basis.

In autumn and through the winter months, limit feeding to once a month.

Soil & Transplanting

These plants do well in almost all types of soils. Standard potting mix will grow these plants fine.

However, it is best to use well-drained, rich and loamy soil for these plants.

Repot the plants only when they become pot-bound and outgrow their current pot.

The best time of the year to transplant these plants is early winter.

Grooming and Maintenance

Bird of paradise is a low-maintenance plant that is easy to grow and care for.

Once established, these plants are usually self-sufficient under the right conditions.

How to Propagate Strelitzia Reginae

Strelitzia reginae can propagate from seeds as well as by division.

Keep in mind that while propagating this species through seeds can take up to 3 – 5 years after germination to flower, cuttings can affect the parent plant.

In other words, when the parent plant is divided, it can stop flowering for up to a year!

Here’s how you can propagate Bird of paradise by division.

  • Remove a mature plant from its pot in late spring or early summer.
  • Untangle the roots and separate into single-stem.
  • It is best to separate a clump that is at least 2”- 3” inches wide.
  • Dip the roots in root hormone and plant it in the smallest pot.
  • Refrain from watering the planted roots for around 2 days, allowing the plant to form calluses.

Bird of Paradise Strelitzia Pest or Disease Problems

These plants are generally sturdy and do not suffer from serious pest or disease problems.

However, here’s a list of some things that can affect the growth and overall health of these plants.

• Frost
• Overwatering / Wet Feet turns into root rot
• Mealybugs
• Leaf blight

Crane Flower Strelitzia Uses

Strelitzia reginae is considered to be mildly toxic for pets and even humans, if consumed in large quantity.

Despite, its mildly toxic nature, it is grown as an ornamental plant indoors and outdoors. In the Cape, the seeds are also used to sour milk.

Bird Of Paradise Plant Care: Indoor And Outdoor Birds Of Paradise

One of the most spectacular and impactful flowering plants for tropical to semi-tropical zones is Strelitzia bird of paradise. The growing conditions for bird of paradise, particularly the temperature range, are very specific. However, northern gardeners don’t despair. The plant can be grown in a container. If you want bird of paradise flowers, continue reading for tips on growing these unique beauties.

Growing Conditions for Bird of Paradise

Strelitzia reginae, also known as crane flower, is native to South Africa and derives its name from the unusual flowers, which resemble brightly colored birds in flight. The plant needs warm temperatures and plenty of sunshine to produce the characteristic blooms. They are hardy in United States Department of Agriculture zones 9 to 11, but cooler regions can use them in containers outdoors in summer and move them inside as cooler temps arrive.

Bird of paradise care is not difficult, but the plants do need certain cultural conditions. Strelitzia bird of paradise needs rich soil that is well draining. It blooms most profusely when in full sun, but indoor plants should be slightly away from southern windows to avoid burning. Also, plants grown outdoors in desert climates should be planted in a partial shade situation.

There are several species of Strelizia, many of which are monster plants, so check the mature size and leave plenty of room for it to grow.

Bird of Paradise in Containers

Plant in a good potting soil that drains well. Water until the soil is saturated and then not again until it is dry to the touch. Reduce watering by half in winter.

Bird of paradise flowers need a lot of food to develop. Feed the plant in early spring every 2 weeks and once per month in summer with a soluble plant food.

Do not plant bird of paradise too deeply in the pot. It is said that some root exposure promotes flowers. Also, a pot bound plant will produce more blooms. When it is time to repot, about every 3 years in spring, only increase the pot size if the roots are extremely cramped.

Put container plants outside in summer but bring them indoors when fall arrives.

Bird of Paradise Care

Divide in-ground plants every 5 years. Remove any broken or dead leaves as they occur. Remove spent flowers as they appear. Bird of paradise can also be propagated from seed; however, blooming will not begin for at least five years.

Container and in-ground plants have the same pest and disease issues. Mealybugs, scale and spider mites are the most common problems with bird of paradise plants. Use a horticultural oil spray or systemic insecticide. Wipe or hose off the leaves to remove dust.

The most common diseases are fungus based. Water under the leaves or when the foliage can dry before nightfall. Avoid overwatering, which can cause several root rots.

Note: Dogs also enjoy nibbling on these plants, but the seeds are toxic, causing abdominal pain and vomiting so beware of this if you have pets.

With a little care, even cool region gardeners can enjoy the eye-popping blooms and tropical foliage of this plant.

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Birds of Paradise

The Birds of Paradise is one of the most colorful flowers in the world. The name Bird of Paradise comes from its spectacular flower shape which resembles a bird’s beak and head plumage.

Birds of Paradise, also known as Crane flowers is one of the most beautiful Exotic Flowers. Birds of Paradise are native to South Africa. Birds of Paradise bloom from September through May.

The flowers of the Birds of Paradise resemble a brightly colored bird in flight and so the name Birds of Paradise.

Kingdom Plantae Division Magnoliophyta Class Liliopsida Order Zingiberales Family Strelitziaceae Genus Strelitzia

The unusually beautiful shape and brilliant colors of Birds of Paradise have made these flowers not just a designer’s favorite, but also a popular symbol of paradise.

The popular Birds-of-Paradise plant bears a unique flower that resembles a brightly colored bird in flight, giving it the common name, Bird of Paradise. The Birds-of-Paradise flowers make the plant an exceptionally attractive landscape plant.

The Birds of Paradise foliage resembles small banana leaves with long petioles. The leaves on the Birds of Paradise plant are arranged strictly in two ranks to form a fan-like crown of evergreen foliage, thick, waxy, and glossy green, making it a very attractive ornamental plant.

The leaf blades are 6 inches wide and 18 inches long. The Birds of Paradise plant usually reaches a height of 4 feet. Birds of Paradise flowers are produced in a horizontal inflorescence emerging from a stout spathe.

The Birds of Paradise flower inflorescence is borne atop long scapes, or pedicels, that grow to 5 feet or more in height. The flower on the Birds of Paradise plant is the most unusual part.

A series of highly colored bracts, or modified leaves, are formed into green, red, and or purplish canoe-like structures. Bracts vary between 4-8 inches long, depending upon the age and size of the Birds of Paradise plant.

Each Birds of Paradise flower is made up of three upright orange sepals and three highly modified vivid blue petals. Two of the petals are joined together in a structure resembling an arrowhead with the third petal forming a nectary at the base of the flower.

Each bract contains 2 or more protruding Birds of Paradise florets of bright yellow or orange elongated petals and a bright blue tongue. The female part of the Birds of Paradise flower is the long extension of the blue tongue, which is extended well away from the stamens.

from our stores – Pickupflowers – the flower expert

Pollination in Birds of Paradise

When a pollinator, usually a sunbird, lands on the arrowhead in search of nectar, the anthers are levered clear of the Birds of Paradise flower and deposit pollen on the breast of the bird. When the bird flies to another plant, this pollen is transferred to the stigma of the new flower.

Then the resulting fruit is a leathery capsule containing numerous small seeds, each with an orange aril (an outgrowth from the seed similar to the red sheath around yew seeds) and an oil body, possibly to attract birds.

Facts About Birds of Paradise

  • Birds of Paradise are the mid-sized staples of tropical bouquets.
  • Birds of Paradise need to be bound together, or supported in some way in larger vases and may bruise smaller flowers.
  • Birds of Paradise are often thought of as the symbol of tropical flowers.
  • Birds of Paradise are medium-sized exotic blooms that instantly evoke palm trees, but do not last longer than a week.
  • The name Birds of Paradise comes from the spectacular flower shape, which resembles a bird’s beak and head plumage.
  • Because of the banana shaped leaves and other plant characteristics Birds of Paradise was classified in the banana family Musaceae.

Some More Popular Species of Birds of Paradise

  • Strelitzia alba/syn. S. augusta – White Birds of Paradise
  • Strelitzia caudata/Swaziland Strelitzia – African desert banana
  • Strelitzia nicolai – White, or Giant Birds of Paradise; Wild banana
  • Strelitzia reginae/S. parvifolia – Strelitzia, Birds of Paradise, or Crane lily

Growing Birds of Paradise

  • The soil around Birds of Paradise plant needs to be kept moist all spring and summer but should be allowed to dry out slightly between watering in the fall and winter.
  • Try to avoid temperatures below 50 degrees. Birds of Paradise need indoor temperatures.
  • Feed your Birds of Paradise every other week during spring and summer with a liquid such as Schultz’s Instant Plant Food or a water-soluble fertilizer such as Bachman’s Excel-Gro, and a quality peat-based potting soil.
  • Cut back to once a month in fall and winter.
  • A quality peat-based potting soil such as Bachman’s Exceloam is perfect for the Birds of Paradise plant.
  • When Birds of Paradise plants are young and actively growing, repot them every spring so that they have plenty of room.
  • As the Birds of Paradise mature (and have bloomed for a year or two), they can be carefully divided. Remember that this will keep the plant from blooming again for several years! Birds of Paradise are also propagated from seed.

Birds of Paradise Plant Care

  • The Bird of Paradise does require a good amount of sunlight.
  • Follow a regular watering schedule during the first growing season to establish a deep, extensive root system for the Birds of Paradise.
  • Watering can be reduced after establishment.
  • Feed Birds of Paradise plants with a general purpose fertilizer before new growth begins in spring.
  • Floral preservative for Birds of Paradise is recommended and is available commercially.

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