Unusual, spectacular and exciting are all words used to describe the fantastically curious birds of paradise plant. This tropical, evergreen grows wonderfully outdoors and can function as a feature plant indoors.
Although blooms are unlikely when grown indoors, outdoors, this fabulous flora produces breathtaking blooms in fantastic shades of orange, blue and white.
Here is everything you need to know to propagate, care for and grow your very own birds of paradise plant.
What is Birds of Paradise?
The birds of paradise plant or crane flower is a South African native but has been grown worldwide for its stunning crane-like flowers. It boasts big, beautiful leathery leaves and can grow anywhere between 3 to 5 metres, depending on the conditions.
While it enjoys a tropical climate best, this feature plant has been known to do quite well, even indoors when provided with enough light.
There are as much as five species of the Birds of Paradise plant, however the most commonly grown cultivars include:
- Strelitzia Reginae
- Strelitzia Nicolai
- Strelitzia Alba
How to Grow Birds of Paradise
Depending on where you intend to grow your birds of paradise plant, you’ll need to consider differing conditions. While it can grow happily indoors, it’s important to note that the likelihood of flowering indoors is not very high. Still, that’s no reason not to grow this gorgeous evergreen.
What Kind of Soil is Best for Birds of Paradise?
Before propagating or planting, you’ll want to make sure you’re providing your birds of Paradise flower with the right kind of soil conditions. Rich, loamy soil is best with a slightly acidic PH level. It’s imperative that your soil will retain moisture but drain properly.
Can Birds of Paradise Flower take Full Sun?
In general, your Birds of Paradise plant will enjoy plenty of light, and full sun usually results in more blooms. However, if it’s scorching, a partly shaded spot might be better.
If growing inside, it’s essential to pick a place that gets plenty of light, as this cultivar cannot adapt in low-light conditions and will eventually wilt and die.
How to Propagate Birds of Paradise Plant
When it comes to propagation, division is the most fool-proof method. Propagation by seed is possible but not recommended. Seeds can take as long as 3 to 5 years to germinate, so it’s not a great option unless you’re really willing to wait.
The best method is to divide by the underground rhizome when re-potting your bird of paradise plant. However, it’s important to note that regularly divided plants will yield fewer flowers each time.
To divide your bird of paradise plant, you’ll want to:
- Mark out a 30 cm radius around your plant’s base and dig at least 25 to 60 cm deep into the soil.
- Gently pull out the root ball and cut it cleanly with a sterilized grafting knife.
- Slowly disentangle roots and separate the plant.
- Then, re-plant into a pot or different area of your garden.
Your plant should fully mature and begin flowering about 3 to 5 years after division.
How Do You Look After Bird of Paradise Plants
You will need to maintain certain cultural conditions for a happy plant, especially if you want it to bloom.
As the birds of paradise flower enjoys an adequate level of humidity now and then, consider occasionally misting or placing your pot onto a humidity tray, if indoors.
In general, you’ll need to keep up with consistent watering, regular feeding and some light pruning every d then.
Your birds of paradise plant will enjoy a solid watering every 1 to 2 weeks. It’s essential, however, to allow the soil to dry out in-between. Ideally, check conditions with a soil probe. If your bird of paradise plant is in full sun, it may need more frequent watering.
While it shouldn’t majorly affect your plant, bird of paradise plants can become quite sensitive to regular tap water. As such, try to use rain or filtered water instead.
Birds of Paradise plants are heavy feeders, especially in the growing season between spring and summer. Feed your bird of paradise plant regularly with some slow-release fertilizer pellets or a water-soluble fertilizer.
Cut back completely in Autumn and Winter.
If a mature plant, it can handle a good cutting back after winter, just to stimulate more vigorous growth. Throughout the year, you prune off old or withering leaves.
If your birds of paradise plant lives indoors, we also recommend rotating your plant regularly to promote even growth. More so, you may want to consider re-potting every 24 to 48 months to keep the soil aerated and nutrient-rich.
Problems, Pests and Diseases
Usually, the birds of paradise plant is relatively pest-free. However, should you run into an issue with a common garden pest like aphids, whiteflies or mealybugs, we recommend using a horticultural (neem) oil to tackle the problem.
It’s also important to note that the sap from the bird of paradise plant can be toxic when ingested, so it’s best to keep your plant out of reach from pets and children.
Why Do Bird of Paradise Leaves Split?
If your leaves are splitting, don’t panic. Splitting leaves is a natural occurrence. It’s usually your plants precaution against wind or done to allow light to lower growing leaves.
Why Are My Birds of Paradise Leaves Turn Brown?
Another common occurrence is something referred to as tipping, where the end of the birds of paradise leaves turns brown or yellow. This is usually a sign of over-watering, over-feeding or due to too much dry and stagnant air.
Why Are My Birds of Paradise Leaves Wilting?
Wilting or curling of leaves is usually a sign of under-watering. Always check your soil to ensure you’re maintaining enough moisture, and consider misting more frequently to help with humidity.
Final Quick Tips for Growing Birds of Paradise Plants
- Remember that if your bird of paradise plant is not getting enough light or moisture, it won’t bloom. This is especially an issue when growing indoors.
- Take the time to regularly dust off the leaves with a damp cloth; this will help boost the photosynthesis process and keep your plant looking crisp and shiny.
- This cultivar is prone to root rot, so take extreme care not to overwater.
- If you are watering with tap water, we recommend letting it sit overnight to the fluoride and chlorine can evaporate.
- This plant is not frost-hardy, so keep it indoors in winter if you can or cover it to protect it from freezing temperatures.
Follow these tips, and you’ll have a beautifully growing and potentially blooming bird of paradise plant. Keep in mind that if growing indoors, it’s going to need a little extra love and a lot more sunlight.
Try to keep your watering consistent, doing using the same amount of water each time. As far as feature plants go, the birds of paradise plant is a perfect option for growers.
Bright, bold and beautiful, you’ll love having a bird of Paradise in your home.