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When to Split a Bird-of-Paradise?


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The bird-of-paradise plant is a tropical plant that originally came from Africa. The flower resembles an exotic bird in flight, thus earning the plant its name. Used as a landscape plant in areas that receive no winter freezing, it is also grown indoors in colder areas as a houseplant. The plant grows from rhizomes that are easily split and divided to produce more plants.

    When to Divide

  • Plants must be mature in order to have enough healthy rhizomes available for dividing as well as to maintain the original plant. Divide plants that are at least 3 years old. Plants that produced healthy flowers and foliage the year before likely have many healthy rhizomes growing under the soil surface.
    Dividing takes place in spring or early summer before the bird-of-paradise begins actively growing again. Dividing during or immediately after flowering prevents the leaves from collecting the nutrients needed for healthy rhizomes. This leads to stunted plants that aren’t likely to survive.

    Dividing Method

  • Dig around the area and slide a spade under the roots, lifting them out of the ground. Take care not to cut the roots with the spade while digging or to damage the fan of leaves protruding from the rhizomes. Potted birds-of-paradise just need to be lifted out of their pots.
    Cut apart the rhizomes with a sharp knife, leaving a fan of leaves and a root on each rhizome piece. Replant each rhizome in the bed or a new pot to their original depth. Divided plants will begin flowering again within one to two years after splitting.

    After Care

  • Keep the soil in both pots and garden beds evenly moist, especially in the first three months after dividing. Avoid over-watering that leads to soggy soil. Place potted plants where they don’t receive direct sunlight. This allows them to concentrate on root growth instead of foliage production. After two months move the pot into bright sunlight.
    Begin fertilizing the bird-of-paradise three months after dividing. Use an organic fertilizer or balanced granular fertilizer outdoors and standard houseplant feeds for potted birds-of-paradise.

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