The Birds of Paradise is one of the most colorful flowers in the world. The name Bird of Paradise comes from its spectacular flower shape which resembles a bird’s beak and head plumage. It is also known as crane flowers and is one of the most beautiful of all exotic flowers.
It has been widely cultivated around the world, and is the official flower of the City of Los Angeles, California. The plant grows to over 6 feet tall, and is designed to fully support the weight of birds who stop to eat the nectar.
Flowering occurs multiple times a year if the plant is well taken care of. It is a long lived plant. Once it begins flowering, however, this plant will provide you with years of delight.
How it looks:
At an average of over 6 feet tall, this plant has the appearance of a bird’s head when it is flowering. Once the plant has reached its full height, it produces a hard sideways sheath called a spathe. This forms the “beak” of the flower, and is strong enough to support the weight of several birds at once.
When in bloom, three orange sepals stick up from the spathe, along with three blue petals that hold the nectar of the flower. Leaves are bushy and wide, growing up to 2 feet long and 12in (30cm) in width. The leaves are evergreen, while the flowers will come and go.
Some plants develop burgundy stripes along the edges of the leaves. This red flush is a random occurrence, sometimes taking place on some leaves of a plant, while other leaves of the same plant remain completely green.
Once flowering begins in early spring, each plant will produce up to six flowers in succession, with each flower being long-lived. Blooming can be almost continuous from early spring into early fall, provided the plant is cared for. This plant requires little encouragement to bloom, happy with enough light and water for its needs.
While the bird of paradise is a popular choice, there are a few essential facts you might want to familiarize yourself with before committing to grow them.
Bird of Paradise plants usually bloom between September and May. During spring and summer months, the soil of the Bird of Paradise plant needs to be kept moist, while in the winter and fall, the soil should be kept dry.
Fertilize Bird of Paradise plants before new growth which occurs in the spring. Use a peat-based potting soil when planting Bird of Paradise plants.
Bird of Paradise plants can grow as tall as 5 feet or taller and their leaf blades measure 6 by 18 inches. Bird of Paradise plants can be found in white, orange, red pink and yellow. Be sure to allow sufficient space for them to grow.
The Bird of Paradise plant needs full sunlight and should not be planted in a climates that falls below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. During the cooler months, the plants should be cut back. Bird of Paradise plants can be grown indoors, but do better outdoors.
Once the blooms on the plant have faded, cut the stems as far back as possible. If taken care of correctly, the Bird of Paradise plant should bloom on a yearly basis. All old, dead laves should be removed to make way for newer leaves.
These plants are often used as the anchor in tropical floral settings. When cut and put into a vase, the stems need to be bound together so they do not fall over. The plant tends to be heavy and over sized so it is typically placed in the center of any arrangement.
Fun facts about bird of paradise
- Just like heliconia, bird of paradise is a relative to the banana.
- Bird of paradise is Los Angeles’ official flower.
- Crane flower is another common name used for the bird of paradise plant.
- When grown from its seed, a bird of paradise plant can take up to seven years to produce flowers.
Planting and Maintenance
The most important thing to do for a Strelitzia is to plant it somewhere that suits its needs, and it will mostly take care of the rest. That means a sunny position, at worst part shade, with free draining soil.
They can cope with either very little water or lots – provided that the water is running through the soil away from the plant. If they are left to sit in boggy soil, the fleshy roots will slowly rot, killing your plant.
Fertilize in spring and autumn with any organic fertilizer. Those gorgeous flowers will appear in spring, summer and if you’re lucky winter too, so either cut them to enjoy inside in a vase or trim them off when the flower has finished to help the plant conserve energy. Leaving finished flowers on the plant will discourage it from producing more.
Bird Of Paradise Care
Bird of paradise is also one of the most low maintenance and easy to care plant, you just need to maintain the following growing conditions for this hard to kill plant:
The Bird of Paradise requires moderate temperatures year-round. They can tolerate temperatures as low as 55 ºF (13 ºC), but prefer to remain in the 70-90 ºF (21-32 ºC) range. Above 70 ºF (21 ºC), care instructions do change slightly.
This plant demands bright, yet indirect, sunlight year-round. Too much sunlight will injure the flowers. Above 70 ºF (21 ºC), this plant should be relocated to a partial shade environment in order to avoid sunburn on the flowers.
During the summer months, the soil should be kept moist through regular watering. Throughout the fall and winter, permit the soil to almost dry out before watering. Never permit water to stand in the saucer underneath the plant.
Strelitzia reginae does well in almost any type of soil. A standard potting soil will suffice for this plant’s continued health.
Offer this plant a balanced fertilizer every two weeks throughout the spring and summer. During the fall and winter months fertilization to once every month.
Check the roots of this plant in the late winter. If the roots appear to be cramped in the current container, have someone assist you in moving it to a size larger pot. Be careful not to injure the spathe during the transplant process. Also, re-pot young plants which are growing early spring.
This plant prefers normal air humidity inside the home. During the winter months, you can mist the leaves of the plants to simulate rainfall, which will also improve humidity during the months that artificial heating is used.
The Strelitzia can be propagated from seeds or by division. The seeds are woody, brown and small, with tufts of orange on them.
When propagating from seed, it will take the newly formed plant more than three years to begin blooming. When propagated by division, the process interrupts the growth cycle of the parent plant, resulting in a year without blooms.
Pests and Diseases
Thankfully Strelitzias are not prone to any serious problems. The most common are:
Caused by inadequate drainage. Water builds up around the fleshy roots, causing them to slowly rot. It can be hard to identify early as the plant slowly wilts and looks generally miserable. Try raising the garden bed or in clay soils, adding gypsum to help improve the soil structure.
Mealy Bug or Scale:
These tiny insects can be a problem throughout the garden. Either spray them off with a jet of water and squash them or, for big infestations, consider a spray with an insecticide.
Usually identified by white spots on the leaves with a ring of green around them. This is a fungal issue, and is treated with a spray of a fungicide.
They’ll withstand drought, salty coastal conditions, light frost and general neglect. They’re perfect for beginner gardeners as they don’t ask very much once established, and are fantastic at bouncing back from just about any gardening mishap.