Last updated on January 22nd, 2022
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Bird of Paradise Plant – A stunning exotic plant
The Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae) is a tropical and exotic-looking plant that is also known as a crane flower. In the UK they can only be grown indoors. However, in warmer climates, usually the Southern parts of the UK, you may have success growing them in a large pot outdoors in summer before bringing them inside during the winter months.
There is no mistaking the exotic and beautiful orange/white flowers that appear upon the long-stemmed stalks. These emerge from the green and pink bracts. The Bird of Paradise is a native plant to South Africa. It is extremely popular as an outdoor plant in warmer climates and as a houseplant in colder climates. It gets its name from the stunning flower that resembles a brightly coloured flying bird.
The foliage is very similar to, and resembles that of a banana leaf, as they have thick broad evergreen foliage that is attached to stalk-like branches. These appear from ground level unlike that of the banana tree that forms a trunk.
If the plant is grown in a greenhouse or outside in warm climates (in conditions that are naturally similar to that of where it originates from) then flowers appear in spring upon long stems and will flower for long periods throughout summer. If your Bird of Paradise plant is grown indoors in light warm conditions, they can flower year-round, giving an utterly stunning summer display. If planted in the ground you can expect them to grow to around 5-6ft tall by about 2-3ft wide. However, as a houseplant, they are usually limited by pot size and grow to around 4ft tall in a larger pot.
Strelitzia – evergreen perennials
Prefers full sun but will grow in semi-shade in a sheltered site that is south facing, west facing or east facing.
- Bird of paradise flower
- Canna-leaved strelitzia
- Crane Flower
How long do Bird of Paradise plants take to flower?
They usually take around 5 years to flower so it might be worth considering buying a more established plant unless you are very patient or enjoy the foliage. Don’t be fooled by the artificial flowers often inserted into younger plants to show off their exotic flowers, these are to show off what the flowers will eventually look like, but they do often look very real.
As Bird of Paradise plants originate from the warmer climates of South Africa, they need warm temperatures to flourish. The ideal temperature is around 65-70 degrees F. (18-21 C.). It should not be allowed to drop below 50 F. (10 C.) at night as this can cause the plant harm and ill health. They can only be planted in the ground outside where there is no risk of frost, a way around this is to grow them in large pots that you can move indoors when the weather turns colder.
Bird of Paradise plants prefer to be grown in rich loamy soil but it must be well-drained. However, they do prefer for the soil to be kept damp during the growing season. If the soil is constantly very wet especially in winter, then this can cause root rot.
Source: Cliff via Flickr
Feeding Bird of Paradise plants
Bird of Paradise plants need feeding about once a month during the growing season. Feed or re-pot in good quality compost in spring. If you are lucky enough to live in warmer climates then mulch around the plants in spring to help retain moisture and protect the roots.
What problems can Bird of Paradise plants experience?
Bird of Paradise plants are not really affected by too many problems, but the most common bug that affects them is the scale insect. They can be treated with an insecticide, soapy water or manual removal by scraping them off. They can also be affected by red spider mites and mealybugs. Over-watering can also cause root rot so although they do prefer moist soil, be careful not to overwater and ensure the soil is well-drained.
They generally are not affected by any diseases.
Why won’t my Bird of Paradise flower?
A Bird of Paradise plant can typically take around 5 years to flower, so if your plant is not at least 5 years old then it is very unlikely to flower. This is probably the reason it has not yet flowered.
If it is 5 years old (or older), then make sure that it is getting lots of light. They need at least 4-6 hours of sun to flower and if it is in a shady spot then it may perform poorly and not flower. Another reason they sometimes don’t flower is if they are newly potted. They like to be root bound so if your plant is approaching 5 years old then hold off re-potting for a couple of years and alternatively feed instead or add fertiliser to the pot of the soil. Lack of feed could be another cause of it not flowering, because of this, we recommend that during the growing season you feed it monthly or even every two weeks and keep the soil damp but not waterlogged.
Propagating Bird of Paradise plants
Seeds should be sown at 18-21°C in spring. Rooted suckers can also be removed from larger plants and re-potted.