The white bird of paradise, or Strelitzia nicolai, is an ornamental plant related to the banana tree and can be potted and grown in sunny locations indoors or in your garden. It will grow quite large outside, 20 to 30 feet tall and 10 feet wide, and will become ragged looking if not pruned often. The broad leaves tend to split and tear. The plant has dense stems and will grow expansively and become invasive outdoors if not adequately pruned.
Use the gardener’s cutters to remove dead flowers and ragged leaves on the white bird of paradise as soon as they start to go bad. Cut them as close to the trunk as you can without damaging other stems. For large outdoor plants, you may have to use the landscape saw.
Cut off new growth at ground level if you are growing the white bird of paradise indoors or want to keep it from becoming invasive. This will keep the plant from spreading.
Keep three to seven of the smoothest stems on the plant, depending on the size of the plant. This will help give it a neat, balanced appearance. Cutting the stems will not harm the plant.
Look carefully at the stem bases for spider mites and mealy bugs when pruning the white bird of paradise. If any are present, use a household insecticide and disinfect the pruning tools before using them on any other plant.
Water the plant after pruning. Keeping it in moist, well-drained soil will promote strong, healthy leaves and reduce the need for pruning. If planting outdoors, do not put the plant in windy areas or near a wall or house. This will cause the leaves to tear more rapidly and severely, requiring more frequent pruning.
Fertilize the plant monthly during the growing season, also to reduce the need for pruning. The plant will produce stronger, less fragile leaves that won’t tear as easily.
Allow the surface soil to get slightly dry between waterings. While white birds of paradise like moisture, constantly wet soil could promote trunk rot.
Parts of the white bird of paradise are toxic if ingested. Keep small children and pets away from the plant.