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Bird of Paradise Plant

Updated on October 15, 2011

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.


Care

Water

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.

Sun

Plant/place them in bright sunlight to partial shade areas. Give them as much sunshine as possible but protect them from intense summer sun.

Repotting

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.

Temperature

They grow best at 50 degrees or above, i.e. indoor temperatures.

Pruning

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.

Fertilizing

Feed them with a good 10-10-10 fertilizer twice a month in growing season. Do not over fertilize.

Soil

They require excellent drainage so a well-drained and rich soil is required.


Facts

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.


Propagation

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.

By Seed

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.

By Division

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.


Varieties

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.


A Must Watch Time Lapse BoP Video

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    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 6 years ago from South Africa

      I am so fortunate to have strelitzias and wild bananas in my garden!

      Thanks for sharing this useful info.

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 6 years ago from Ohio, USA

      Very interesting. Thanks for writing.

    • Ultimate Hubber profile image
      Author

      Ultimate Hubber 6 years ago

      Tony, you are lucky to have these lovely plants!

    • msorensson profile image

      msorensson 6 years ago

      One of my favorites. I used to have those in Honolulu. Thanks for the reminder.

    • Ultimate Hubber profile image
      Author

      Ultimate Hubber 6 years ago

      msorensson, good to hear that!

    • ethel smith profile image

      Eileen Kersey 6 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Love that video. Isn't nature wonderful. We saw these on the Island of Madeira and loved them. Bought and then brought a cutting home but it did not survive.

    • Ultimate Hubber profile image
      Author

      Ultimate Hubber 6 years ago

      That's sad Ethel. I am sure the next time you buy them they are not only going to survive but thrive. Thanks Ethel!

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 6 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Great information. I, like ethel smith had a cutting that didn't survive. I think after reading your hub I will have better luck next time. Thanks

    • Ultimate Hubber profile image
      Author

      Ultimate Hubber 6 years ago

      I hope so KKG!

      Best of luck for your growing and propagation experiences. And, thanks!

    • profile image

      SilverGenes 6 years ago

      I'm so glad you asked a question about photography - I found your hubs that way. These are such beautiful plants. They grow here in the conservatory in the park and I couldn't get enough photos! Thank you :)

    • Ultimate Hubber profile image
      Author

      Ultimate Hubber 6 years ago

      Thanks Silver!

    • profile image

      The mystery school kid 6 years ago

      HEY omg im doin this project on the bird of paradise (: talk to u later

    • profile image

      Jason Hooper 6 years ago

      I have a Strelitzia Alba that has been adopted by some of the people in our office. There is a great skylight about 10m high. The plant is about 4m after 2 years. When I first bought the plant I propagated it into 4 plants. 2 of the people did not accept my suggestion to let the soil dry out before watering. I can't wait until it flowers!

    • profile image

      Happy36 5 years ago

      When you say that the dead leaves should be cut off at the base, do you mean at the base of the leaf or at the base of the stem?

    • Ultimate Hubber profile image
      Author

      Ultimate Hubber 5 years ago

      I was talking about the base of the stem.

    • profile image

      Dani 5 years ago

      I have just got a new property! The is a bird of paradise plant the but was covered in vines! Which now have been removed! Although the plant leaves have been flattened! My question is can I cut the whole plant right back to nothing? Will it reshoot? Or will it not survive without green leaves?

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