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Bird of Paradise plant – How to grow this tropical plant
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Bird of Paradise Plant – A stunning exotic plant
The Bird of Paradise (Stelitzia reginae) is a tropical, exotic looking plant that is also known as a crane flower. In the UK they can only been grown indoors. However, in warmer, (usually southern) parts of the UK you may have success growing them in a large pot outdoors in summer before bringing it inside during the winter months.
Their is no mistaking the exotic beautiful orange/white flowers that appear upon the long stemmed stalks, these emerge from the green and pink bracts. The Bird of Paradise is 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 it’s name from the exotic flower that resemble brightly coloured flying birds.
The foliage is very similar to, and resembles that of a banana leaf, as they have thick broad evergreen foliage that are attached to stalk-like branches. These appear from ground level unlike that of the banana tree that form a trunk.
If the plant is grown in a greenhouse or outside in warm climates (in more natural conditions 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 the Bird of Paradise plant is grown indoors in light warm conditions, they can flower year round giving a beautiful 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 usually limited by the 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 side in a 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 take around 5 years to flower so you might consider 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 beautiful flowers, these are to show off what the flowers look like but 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 being 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 heath. They can only be planted in the ground outside where there is no risk of frost, a way around this is to grow in large pots that you can move indoors when the weather turns cooler.
Bird of Paradise plants prefer to be grown in rich loamy soil but it must be well-drained. Although they do prefer for the soil to be kept damp during the growing season. If the soil if 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 have
Bird of Paradise plants are not really affected by too many problems, but the most common bug which effects them is scale insect, they can be treated with an insecticide, soapy water or manually removed by scraping them off. They can also be affected by red spider mite and mealybugs. Over-watering can also cause root rot so although they do prefer moist soil, be careful not to over water and ensure the soil is well-drained.
They generally are not affected by any diseases.
Why won’t my Bird of Paradise flower
Bird of Paradise typically take around 5 years to flower so if your plant is not at least 5 then it is very unlikely to flower. This is probably the reason it has not flowered.
If it is 5 years old, 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 it approaching 5 years old then hold off re-potting for a couple of years and alternatively feed instead or add fertilizer to the pot of the soil. Lack of feed is also another reason they may not flower, during the growing season feed monthly or even every two weeks and keep the soil damp but not water-logged,
Propagating Bird of Paradise plants
Seeds should be sown at 18-21°C in spring and rooted suckers can be removed from larger plants and re-potted,