Bird of Paradise Plant
The bird of paradise is a family of flowering plants native to South Africa. The genus has a total of five species and is scientifically known as Strelitzia. They are evergreen plants with leaves similar but much smaller than those of banana plants. The flowers they produce are extremely beautiful and have in a variety of colors.
What's in a name?
They are named bird of paradise due to their resemblance with the bird of paradise bird.
The scientific name is given after the duchy of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, birthplace of Queen Charlotte of the United Kingdom.
They are also sometimes called wild banana, crane flower and giant bird of paradise.
They require some regular watering and the soil should be kept moist all the time, especially when in pots. Remember, the soil should not get soggy. Allow the soil to dry out slightly between watering in the fall and winter.
Plant/place them in bright sunlight to partial shade areas. Give them as much sunshine as possible but protect them from intense summer sun.
If growing in pots, repot them every year or two to larger pots to give them some room. You can initially plant them in large containers and allow them to get root bound as they look more happy and bloom better when root bound.
They grow best at 50 degrees or above, i.e. indoor temperatures.
Remove dead and dry parts of your bird of paradise plant. Dead leaves don't fall on their own and should be clipped off at the base.
Feed them with a good 10-10-10 fertilizer twice a month in growing season. Do not over fertilize.
They require excellent drainage so a well-drained and rich soil is required.
They are closely related to the banana plants.
They originated in South Africa and was introduced to Europe in 1770s.
The bird of paradise plants can be propagated from seeds and also by division.
Here are some more interesting facts about plants and trees.
You can multiply the number of your bird of paradise plants through a process called propagation. You can propagate them by germinating seeds or by division.
Soak the seeds for a couple of days in water. Then plant the seeds in moist rich soil about an inch deep. Keep the soil moist all the time and if available do add peat moss to it before sowing seeds.
Remove your bird of paradise plants from the pots or containers. Wash them with garden hose then cut a part of them so that the new part will have some roots and stems. Now plant this new part in new containers and this will give you a new plant. Water the new plant thoroughly. You can cut off more than one parts from the main plant to have many new ones. Gardeners recommend watering the plant thoroughly before dividing it to reduce shock. Also water the main plant thoroughly once you plant it back into its container.
Strelitzia Nicolai: These grow really tall, reaching heights of about 20 to 30 feet, thus they are sometimes called big bird and Giant White Bird of Paradise. They very much resemble the banana trees.
Strelitzia Alba: Also known as White Bird of Paradise, the Strelitzia Alba is often confused with its cousin Strelitzia Nicolai which is quite similar to Alba in its appearance.
Strelitzia Caudata: Also known as Swaziland Strelitzia and African Desert Banana, they produce cream colored flowers.
Strelitzia Reginae (Mandela's Gold): Known as Kirstenbosch Gold until 1996, this BOP variety was then named after the South African President Nelson Mandela.
Strelitzia Juncea: They produce orange or yellow flowers and grow 1-2 meters in height. They have upright needle like leaves. The leaves are quite different from Strelitzia Reginae, but the flowers look quite similar.