Caring for Your Bird of Paradise Caring for Your Bird of Paradise

Bird of paradise plants are unique, flowering, tropical shrubs. They come in a variety of colors, including white, orange, red, yellow, and pink. For those who love to garden and want a specimen plant, the Strelitzia reginae, as it is also called, can yield beautiful long-term results.

Originating in Africa, the bird of paradise is now cultivated worldwide. In the United States, the bird of paradise grows in USDA plant hardiness zones 9 through 11. This heat-loving beauty grows in clumps and can grow up to 4 feet tall. Nickolai, or the white bird of paradise, can even reach up to 15 feet tall.

Although this is a beautiful shrub, it is also a plant that needs proper care in order to thrive. The following information will help you grow a gorgeous, thriving plant that is well-worth the effort.

Environment

Bird of paradise plants do well when they get at least four hours of direct sunlight each day. However, if possible, they should receive bright light all day.

The ideal temperature range for this plant to thrive is between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit during the day, and between 50 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit at night, though they will generally be hardy down to about 20 degrees Fahrenheit if weather conditions change drastically.

You should also note, the higher the humidity the better for growing bird of paradise plants.

Planting

Pot Strelitzia reginae in a sterile mixture of potting soil, peat moss, and sand. Throw in a liberal amount of bone meal as well. The species does best when it is somewhat root-bound, which is why they’re often found planted in large pots or tubs.

Watering

Your bird of paradise needs excellent drainage. Keep the plant evenly moist except the time between November and February when the soil should be kept drier.

Feeding

Feed the bird of paradise a balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer every two weeks from March through September.

Pruning

Regularly prune your bird of paradise plant, or it can quickly overcome any garden wall or fence. Use heavy-duty garden pruners for the task.

Propagating

Plants propagate either by plant division or by seed. Neither method is difficult. If you divide plants, they may take two years to reach blooming size. Plants grown from seed can take up to 10 years to achieve their first flowers.

Blooming

Blooms of the bird of paradise actually occur in succession instead of in one big flowering. The plant will only bloom when it is mature, and it must be root-bound to do so. This may take up to two years (or longer, depending on the particular plant’s needs), so you must be patient.

Birds of paradise are pollinated by actual birds, but you may also choose to hand-pollinate your plant.

Showcase Cutting

For a flashy flower, cut a single bird of paradise flower with a leaf and place in a tall, slender glass vase. Choose a flower that’s about to bloom, and fill 2/3 of the vase with white stones (not colored stones, so as not to detract from the flower).

The bloom will last for about three weeks. Change the water weekly to keep fresh.

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