It is hard to imagine a more exotic flower than the tall, striking bird of paradise, also sometimes known as the crane plant. The flower does, in fact, resemble a water bird having a slender blue neck and head and a long pointed blue beak. Atop the "head" is a brilliant orange fanned crest–the petioles of the flower.
Birds of paradise are tropical plants. Outside of tropical and subtropical climates, they can successfully be grown as houseplants or as outdoor container plants provided they are sheltered during the winter.
Use a garden fork to loosen the soil around your large bird of paradise plant, being careful not to insert the tines directly under the plant where they could damage the root system.
Dig down about 8 inches using a garden spade and gently lift the root clump out of the ground.
Wash the root system with a garden hose so you can better inspect the cluster of rhizomes, most of which will have developed their own shoots.
Use a clean, sharp knife to separate rhizomes that have produced shoots. These will become your new bird of paradise plants.
Soak the rhizomes in a solution of 1 part household bleach to 10 parts cool water for about 20 minutes, then rinse under running water for at least a full minute.
Plant the rhizomes, shoots pointed upward, in pots containing a mixture of peat and perlite in equal parts or use a commercial light potting mix. Make sure the plants are covered with 2 to 3 inches of potting mix.
Water regularly to keep the soil barely moist. When the plants sprout through the soil, begin fertilizing according to package directions with an all-purpose liquid fertilizer.
If transplanting your bird of paradise to an outdoor container, place the container in partial sun where the plant tends to flower more easily than in full sun. Do not plant in shade.
Mulch your outdoor bird of paradise plants to help them retain moisture.
If planting directly into the garden, space your plants at least 6 feet apart.
Make sure your knife is clean by wiping it with alcohol before cutting into the roots of your plant.