Are you looking to give your garden a tropical vibe? The regal Bird of Paradise plant, with its large leaves and magnificent flowers, is just what you need. Here’s how to care for Bird of Paradise plants—from potting to promoting blooms!
About Bird of Paradise
Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia) are associated with tropical scenes worldwide, though they are native to South Africa. They are often used as landscape plants in warmer regions of the United States, such as Hawaii, southern California, or Florida. They are the official flower of the City of Los Angeles!
These plants can be grown indoors in colder climates as an attractive (quite large) houseplant. Most strelitzia will not bloom indoors, but we are really here for the foliage!
Place these plants in a sunny spot in the home and bring them outdoors during the warmer months, but be sure to acclimate them to the stronger sunlight, or their foliage may burn.
Bird of Paradise Flowers
The Bird of Paradise gets its common name from its stunning, brightly-colored flower, which resembles a bird in flight. The most common species of Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae) produces an orange and blue flower; the less-common White Bird of Paradise (S. nicolai) has white flowers highlighted with dark blue.
These plants can produce dozens of long-lasting blooms throughout the year in ideal conditions (i.e., proper lighting, watering, and temperatures).
Bird of Paradise plants prefer to be slightly pot-bound, so use a container that offers only 1-2 inches of space between the roots and wall of the pot. This encourages blooming.
Plant in a well-draining potting mix. The potting medium should be allowed to dry out to some extent between waterings; using a well-draining mix helps to ensure that the soil doesn’t remain wet.
Do not plant too deeply. Expose the top of the roots to encourage flowering.
Bird of Paradise prefers full sun but will tolerate indirect light.
This plant grows best in temperatures between 65° and 70°F (18° to 21°C).
Thoroughly wet the soil when watering. Allow the soil to dry slightly before watering again.
The plant prefers moderate humidity, which may require daily misting with a humidifier during the winter months.
Fertilize every 2 weeks in the spring and then every week through the end of summer. Fertilize monthly in the fall and winter.
Early spring is the best time to repot a plant that has outgrown its pot.
Orange Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae) is the most recognizable type of Bird of Paradise. Each flower has 3 orange sepals and 3 blue petals.
The variety ‘Mandelas’s Gold’ has yellow sepals and blue petals.
Juncea Bird of Paradise (S. reginae var. juncea) is a variety of the orange Bird of Paradise. It produces smaller flower and the spear-like leaves grow from the base at the soil line. The flowers appear on a stalk, as they do on the orange Bird of Paradise.
White Bird of Paradise (S. nicolaiis) is an enormous species that’s often used as a landscape plant in tropical climates. It may reach heights of up to 30 feet! As its name suggests, this species produces a lovely white flower highlighted with dark blue.
Wit and Wisdom
The Bird of Paradise plant is also known as the Crane Flower.
When not in bloom, this plant has large, blade-like leaves that resemble those of a banana tree. In warm climates, they can make for stunning landscape plants that foster a truly tropical vibe.
Georgia O’Keefe painted white Bird of Paradise during her time in Hawaii in the 1940s. It has become one of her most famous paintings from that time.