How to Divide a Mexican Bird of Paradise

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The Mexican bird of paradise is a small tree, native in northern Mexico, with lush, fern-like, dark leaves. During the warmer season, yellow flower "spikes" grow on the branch tips, turning into pods with a woody texture that explode, making a fair amount of noise. Because of its popularity, it can be kept shrub size with regular pruning.
Propagating the plant can be successful with seeds; planting seedlings that accumulate around the plant base; taking a stem cutting, or dividing the shrub at the base.

Difficulty: Moderate


Things You’ll Need:

  • Two shovels or spading forks
  1. Use a plant that has more than one stem protruding from the ground at the base. Attempting to divide a plant with only one stem will result in killing the original plant and any start taken.

  2. Thrust the two spading forks or shovels firmly in the ground between the stems. Push the spade as far under the roots as possible of the plant portion you are relocating. You will probably feel the spade cutting through underground plant roots.

  3. Scoop or pry the plant out of the ground with the gardening tool, keeping the second tool firmly in place to provide leverage and to protect the plant that is remaining.

  4. Transfer the plant immediately into a prepared hole or a temporary pot that can cover the root ball in dirt until it can be replanted. Apply a small amount of water to help the roots recover from the shock while in transport.

Tips & Warnings

  • Dividing a woody stemmed shrub is difficult. There is no guarantee that both plants will not die from the shock. It is better to propagate shrubs with other means.

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