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Bird of paradise plant care is easier than you think! In this post, I’ll show you everything you need to know about growing bird of paradise. Including planting tips, detailed care for water, fertilizer, flowers, soil, sunlight, and much more!
Known as the ‘queen of houseplants’, bird of paradise is a widely adaptable plant that’s commonly grown in tropical regions of the world.
They are highly prized for their unique and vibrantly colored bird-shaped flowers. In fact, they’re so exotic looking that it seems like they would be difficult to care for.
On the contrary, growing bird of paradise is not difficult in the right conditions, and they are fairly low maintenance plants.
These tropical beauties do great outside in pots or the garden, and can also be brought indoors as a houseplant. The large, distinctively tropical foliage adds elegant style to any garden or home decor.
Here’s what you’ll find in this detailed bird of paradise plant care guide…
Information About Bird Of Paradise
The bird of paradise (Streilitzia, also called Crane Flower), is a native plant in South Africa, but you can grow them in any climate.
These tender perennials get their common name because of the distinctive flowers that resemble the head of a bird when they open.
The sizable glossy foliage can reach heights of up to 6in wide and 18in long on smaller species, and as long as 20ft on the giants. They are very long-lived plants that can survive and keep blooming for decades.
Bird of paradise is hardy in zones 9-11, though it will need frost protection during extreme winters. Some can survive down to zone 8, but will die back to the ground in freezing temperatures.
If you live in a lower zone, you can grow bird of paradise indoors throughout the colder months of the year. They make excellent houseplants.
The long-lasting flowers of the bird of paradise are their most distinguishing feature. They’re beautiful, exotic, and can bloom constantly in the right environment. Hummingbirds love them too.
Sometimes it can be difficult to get them to blossom, especially if you keep them indoors. In that case, follow these tips to increase the chance of flowers…
- Keep the plant snug with slightly pot-bound roots
- Give it plenty of sunlight
- Fertilize it monthly
- Never allow it to dry out
- Be patient
The most familiar type of bird of paradise are the ones with orange flowers. But, there are actually a few different varieties. Here are some of the most common ones…
- Orange bird of paradise (Strelitzia reginae) – The most well know species with orange and blue flowers. Also called “orange bird”, this variety reaches 3-5 feet tall, and is suitable for growing in pots or indoors.
- ‘Mandela’s Gold’ bird of paradise – Also called ‘Kirstenbosch Gold’, this variety of Strelitzia reginae has yellow and blue flowers. This one is much more rare, and grows to be 4-6ft tall.
- White bird of paradise (Strelitzia nicolai) – As the biggest of the different species, the large, banana-like leaves can get up to 20 feet tall. Also called “Giant bird of paradise”, or “white bird”, this one has huge white and blue flowers that can range from 6-12″ long.
Where To Grow Bird Of Paradise
These subtropical perennials are easy to grow in the garden, as outdoor patio specimens, or indoors. They will do best in full to part sun where they are protected from harsh winds.
Planting Bird Of Paradise In Containers
All types of bird of paradise can be grown in pots, as long as the container is large enough for them. Since they can get very tall, find a container with a broad, substantial base to prevent it from tipping over.
Also, be sure that the container you select allows for suitable drainage. This is extremely important, and will help prevent overwatering.
Consider putting yours in a container that can be taken outdoors in warm weather, and brought inside during the colder months. Once the outside temperatures are consistently above 50F degrees, it’s safe to move it back outdoors.
Growing Bird Of Paradise Indoors
Though you can easily grow bird of paradise indoors as a houseplant year round, you may find it more difficult to get them to bloom.
Fortunately, the foliage alone is attractive, and a lovely addition to any home, or sunroom. But if you want it to flower indoors, then put it outside in the summer, and bring it back inside for winter.
Bird Of Paradise Plant Care In The Garden
If you live in the right climate, then you can plant these lovely evergreen perennials in your garden, or landscaping. The first step toward successful bird of paradise plant care is site selection.
It requires well draining, fertile soil, high humidity, and temperatures that stay above 50F degrees. Choose a spot that gets regular moisture, but not where the ground becomes saturated.
How To Grow Bird Of Paradise
Before we get into the specific bird of paradise plant care instructions, it’s important to know when and how to plant them. This will get them off to the best start possible.
When To Plant
You can plant bird of paradise pretty much any time of the year in temperate climates. However, avoid transplanting them on extremely hot days.
If you want to know the ideal time for planting them, it is during the cooler months of the spring or fall, on a cloudy or rainy day.
To plant them outside, dig a hole in the ground that is a foot or so wider, and the same depth as the pot. Don’t make the hole too deep.
Gently loosen the rootball, and place it into the hole at the same depth as it was in the pot. Take care not to plant your bird of paradise deeper, or they may not flower well.
Fill the hole in with soil, and mulch around the base of the plant to help retain moisture. Water well for several days after transplanting.
Bird Of Paradise Care & Growing Instructions
Though these tough plants can survive a lot of abuse and neglect, they will bloom and grow the best when given the proper conditions. Follow these bird of paradise plant care instructions for the best results.
The moisture requirements for growing bird of paradise include regular watering, but always avoid saturated soil.
Try to water consistently throughout the spring and summer months to maintain evenly moist soil. But during fall and winter, allow your plant to dry out between waterings.
If you struggle to get it right, I recommend getting yourself an inexpensive moisture gauge to help you out.
Also, be cautious of your water source. Do not use softened water on them, they are extremely sensitive to this type of salt. So instead, water your plants with collected rainwater or distilled water.
Since it is native to the subtopics, the bird of paradise plant loves humid conditions. They benefit from regular spritzing while indoors, which emulates the high humidity conditions of its native habitat.
Outdoors they will tolerate less humidity, but extremely dry air can cause the leaves to split, turn brown, and/or curl at the ends.
Though fertilizer is not usually required for plants growing in the ground, lack of nutrients is one of the main reasons why bird of paradise won’t flower.
They are heavy feeders, so regular fertilizing is very important for blooming, especially if you have them in containers.
For best results, add slow-release granules to the hole at planting time, then top-dress them monthly through the spring and summer.
Cease feeding them during the fall, and don’t fertilize them at all in the winter during their dormant period. Learn more about fertilizing flowers here.
When it comes to the type of soil, bird of paradise isn’t too fussy. But they will do best in soft, workable soil that is high in organic matter.
Bird of paradise plants can live in the same pot for many, many years. They love to be pot-bound, and repotting them too often may inhibit blooming.
Only repot yours if the roots have completely outgrown the pot, the plants health is declining, or the container has become so top-heavy it can no longer remain standing.
Also, choose a pot that is only slightly larger than the last. And keep in mind that it may take a year or so for them to flower again after being repotted.
Bird of paradise is adaptable to a range of sunlight. In colder climates, they will be more robust, and bloom better when they get 6 or more hours of full sun per day. If they get too much shade, they won’t flower as well.
However, you should protect them from the intense afternoon sun in extremely hot and dryer climates, or it can burn the leaves. In this case, plant them in an area that gets partial sun in the morning and/or evening.
Indoors place it in a sunny south facing window, or add a grow light if it starts reaching for sunlight. You can’t give it too much light inside the house.
Healthy bird of paradise plants have very few pest problems. They can become infested by mealy bugs, scale, and spider mites. Fortunately, the solution is the same for all three of these bugs.
Periodically wipe the leaves with a rag soaked with diluted soapy water (always use a mild liquid soap). Cleaning the foliage prevents, as well as treats, mild infestations.
For heavier infestations, you can use neem oil, or wash the leaves with insecticidal soap. Test any new sprays on a few leaves to make sure they don’t cause any damage before treating the entire plant.
It’s a good idea to regularly prune bird of paradise plants to keep them growing and looking their best. Pruning helps encourage vigorous new growth, and tons of flowers.
It also prevents them from looking messy, and cleans up the dead flowers or damaged leaves. Trim out any unhealthy foliage as necessary, and cut off the flowers down to the base after they fade.
Bird Of Paradise Propagation Tips
There are two ways to propagate bird of paradise, either by division or by growing the seeds. To divide it, you can either split up the rootball, or remove the side shoots and pot them up.
When the flowers are pollinated, seeds will form. Collect the seeds and remove the fleshy coating before direct sowing or storing them.
Troubleshooting Common Bird Of Paradise Problems
The hardest part about bird of paradise plant care is when something goes wrong, and you have no idea how to fix it. So, in this section, I’ll help you troubleshoot some of the most common problems you may have with yours.
- Broken stalk – It’s not uncommon for the tall stalks to break off in a storm or heavy winds. Simply prune broken stalks from the plant as necessary, and consider moving it to a more protected location.
- Leaves splitting – This is very common in windy areas, or when there is a strong storm. Lack of humidity and water are also common causes. Move the plant to a spot where it will be protected from the wind, trim off the heavily tattered leaves, and ensure the plant is getting plenty of water.
- Leaves curling – Most often caused by lack of water, the leaves can also curl in low humidity. Make sure they’re getting enough water, the soil should never dry out completely.
- Not flowering – On established plants, this could be caused by improper watering, lack of fertilizer, or too much shade. However, it can take a few years for a new bird of paradise to flower, so you may just need to give it more time.
- Leaves turning brown – When the leaves turn brown, it could be caused by sunburn, not enough humidity, lack of water, or bugs. Inspect the leaves for bugs, move the plant if it’s getting sunburn, and ensure proper watering.
Bird Of Paradise Care FAQs
Below I will answer some of the most frequently asked questions about bird of paradise plant care. If you can’t find your answer here, then ask it in the comments below, and I’ll be happy to answer it ASAP.
How do I get my bird of paradise to bloom?
Fertilizer and sunlight are the two main things bird of paradise plants need to bloom. Containerized plants like to be root-bound, and may not flower if the pot is too large. See the “Flowers” Section above to learn how to get them to bloom.
How long does it take for bird of paradise to grow?
Bird of paradise is a fast-growing plant, but it can take a 3-5 years for a seedling or small specimen to grow to the full, mature size.
How much sunlight does a bird of paradise need?
It depends on where you live. In temperate climates, bird of paradise does best in full sun. In hot, dry regions, they grow best in partial shade where they are protected from the intense afternoon sun.
How often should you water a bird of paradise plant?
Rather than automatically watering on a set schedule, always be sure to check the soil first to make sure it’s not already wet.
But in general, water bird of paradise plants weekly during the summer months. In the fall and winter, allow the soil to dry slightly between waterings.
Growing bird of paradise is fun and simple. The stately and elegant “queen of houseplants” is worth the effort to add height and lush foliage to your indoor living space, patio, or garden. Plus, with the proper care, you can enjoy the gorgeous and unusual flowers for many years to come!
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