How To Grow And Care For Bird of Paradise

This striking flora resembles a tropical bird and will give your garden a lot of style.

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Stunning doesn't even begin to describe this tropical plant. Bird-of-paradise is a flowering perennial in the family Strelitziaceae and the genus Strelitzia . It's native to South Africa but is now grown widely in North and South America too. It's an evergreen plant with a notable calling card in the form of eye-catching blooms, which appear throughout the year, and, in the right environment, can bloom all year long.


Bird of paradise is easier to grow than you might think. You’ll recognize it from cut arrangements or your florist’s cooler, but bird of paradise grows in Southern gardens, too. It typically flowers in the winter season, but will flower at other times when given the best growing conditions. Here is what you need to know about growing and caring for bird of paradise.

Plant Attributes

Common Name Bird of paradise, crane flower
Botanical Name Strelitzia reginae
Family Strelitziaceae
Plant Type Perennial
Mature Size 3.5-6 ft. tall, 3-4 ft. wide
Sun Exposure Full, partial
Soil Type Loamy
Soil pH Acidic
Bloom Time Late winter to early spring
Flower Color Orange, white
Hardiness Zones 10-12 (USDA)
Native Area Africa
Toxicity Toxic to cats, dogs

Bird of Paradise Care

Bird-of-paradise ( Strelitzia sp.) thrives in partial shade with regular water. According to The New Southern Living Garden Book , "Bird-of-paradise is a good planting for poolside. The plants produce no litter and withstand some splashing." They're also resistant to grazing deer and can withstand temperatures that drop below freezing. After frost, Strelitzia species do usually recover, though they can take their time in doing so.

This plant grows well in borders or beds outside. Clump them for a big display or plant as a specimen plant. Bird of paradise performs best in organic soil with good drainage. Plants grown in part shade will grow taller and have somewhat larger flowers. In full sun, plants are smaller, but still bloom well. Bird of paradise tolerates some salt spray but avoid planting near the ocean. Bird of paradise can also be grown as a houseplant . However, its impressive height, often growing 5–6 ft. tall, can be unrealistic to tend indoors for many gardeners. As a houseplant, pot bird of paradise in a container that can be moved outdoors during warm months and back inside for winter. It needs bright light and direct sun. Water regularly and add compost in the spring. Fertilize every week during its growing season. Bird of paradise will flower once mature somewhere between 3 to 5 years.

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Light

To grow bird of paradise, plant in direct light . This plant is a tropical and needs warm soil, air, and sunshine. It tolerates partial shade well, but shade can impact its size and shape.

Soil

Bird of paradise grow well in organic soil. Where the soil is less than ideal, dig a planting hole less deep and mound the soil around the root ball to cover the sides. It will need more water during dry periods, but should not suffer from poor drainage.

Water

Provide plenty of water as a new plant is becoming established. After that, bird of paradise prefers regular watering during the warm growing season. During the winter months, water only when the soil is dry. (Too little or too much water will cause leaves to yellow and die.)

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Fertilizer

Feed young plants with organic fertilizer frequently until they reach full dramatic size; then give little or no fertilizer. The goal is to achieve and maintain maximum size without lush growth and need for dividing. Cut off dead leaves and thin out any surplus growth.

Types of Birds of Paradise

S. nicolai. Giant bird of paradise. Zone TS; USDA 10-11. Clumping, treelike plant to 30 ft. tall and wide. Grown mainly for its dramatic foliage, similar to that of banana ( Musa ): gray-green, 5- to 10-ft.-long leaves arranged fanwise on erect or curving trunks.

S. reginae. Bird of paradise. Zones CS (protected), TS; USDA 9-11. This favorite is grown for its spectacular flowers, which bear a startling resemblance to the heads of crested tropical birds. Blooms combining orange, blue, and white are borne on long, stiff stems. Flowering is best in cooler seasons (though blooms appear year-round). This species is trunkless, growing 5–6 ft. high and about as wide; blue-green leaves are 11⁄2 ft. long. Benefits greatly from frequent, heavy feeding. Divide infrequently, since large, crowded clumps bloom best. Good in containers. Recovers slowly from frost damage.

Pruning

Remove dead leaves and spent stalks to reduce or remove any fungal organism growth on dead tissue. Removing dead plant materials improves the look of the garden bed, too.

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Propagating

It’s easy to propagate new bird of paradise plants. Dig up and separate the established clumps with four or five stems, then divide so that each division has a single stem. For best results, divide during late spring or early summer.

How to Get Bird of Paradise to Bloom

Bird of paradise need bright, direct light in order to bloom. If the plant fails to produce any blooms, consider where it is planted. It’s probably more shaded than its ideal growing conditions require. Move it to a spot that will receive at least four to six hours of sun each day.

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Common Pests & Plant Diseases

Bird of paradise generally grows without major pests or disease problems, but you might spot an occasional insect. Watch for and remove aphids, caterpillars, grasshoppers, scales and snails. Flowers can be susceptible to leaf borer. Fungal leaf can also occur, so remove any spent plant material to minimize.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Where does Bird of Paradise get its name?

    Bird of paradise gets its Latin name from England, where it was named for Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, who was an amateur botanist , according to the Royal Family. It gets its common name from its appearance because its spiky, brightly colored flowers resemble tropical birds. Those flowers are long-lasting once they're produced, and they also last for an extended period of time when cut for arrangements. This is also a great plant for container gardening.

  • What do Bird of Paradise flowers look like in bloom?

    Strelitzia reginae, also known as bird-of-paradise, is prized for its vibrant, unmistakable blooms. According to The New Southern Living Garden Book , "The spectacular flowers bear a startling resemblance to the heads of crested tropical birds. Blooms combining orange, blue, and white are borne on long, stiff stems." S. reginae grows to heights of 5- to 6-feet tall, and its leaves grow to 1- to 2-feet long. It thrives in hardiness zones nine through 11.

  • What plants pair well with Bird of Paradise?

    If bird of paradise has you thinking of adding tropical touches to your landscape , also check out mandevilla, crotons, canna, and ferns , which can thrive outdoors in the South.

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  1. ASPCA

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