Bird of Paradise Plant Information
If you’re looking for an evergreen perennial to add to your warm-weather garden, bird of paradise may be the perfect choice. Native to South Africa, bird off paradise plants are used as ornamental shrubs in tropical areas, including Florida and Hawaii. The striking flowers are formed by blue petals and orange sepals that grow out from a modified leaf structure called a bract.
- Bird of paradise, or Strelitzia reginae, gets its common name from the exotic shape of its flowers, which resemble the colorful head of a bird. The flowers extend up from stalks that can grow to over 5 feet tall. Bird of paradise plants’ leaves are about 18 inches in length and 6 inches wide, grayish green in color and have a smooth, waxy texture. A mature plant grows to about 5 feet tall and 3 to 5 feet in width.
- Bird of paradise plants are a close relative to the banana. It is a member of the Strelitziaceae family. Strelitzia nicolai, also called the giant, white or tree bird of paradise, is a tree variety that can grow to over 15 feet tall. S. nicolai produce vibrant orange and blue flowers. Strelitzia parvifolia is also related to bird of paradise. Similar in features, this plant is somewhat smaller with leaves growing to about half the size of bird of paradise.
- Strelitzia reginae are considered slow growers and can take up to five years from seedling to first bloom. If starting from seeds, scratch the seeds’ coats if they’ve hardened before planting. Bird of paradise prefers well-drained organic soil. Be sure to keep them moist and the seeds should germinate within three months. Once the seedlings have a few leaves they can be transplanted to pots. Keep them shaded and fertilized for about six more months before transplanting outside. Space the plants approximately 6 feet apart and keep them moist as their roots develop.
- While bird of paradise plants propagated from seeds can take five years to flower, those propagated by division take only one to two years to bloom. Division can be accomplished by separating the clumps of the bird of paradise plant or by cutting young offshoots. Keep the plant’s soil level the same when replanting clumps or transplanting those grown from seeds. Make sure the plants are kept moist, paying special attention for at least the first three months while the roots are established. Then, begin fertilizing.
- There are not too many pests or diseases that threaten the bird of paradise plant. It is a hardy plant that can usually survive mild infestations. Some pests that can occasionally be found bothering bird of paradise plants are aphids, whiteflies, scales and mealybugs. Bacteria can cause wilting, and fungus causes root rot. Transmitted through seeds, root rot can be prevented by soaking seeds in water for 24 hours then placing them into hot water of no higher than 135 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes.