Bird of Paradise Plants Care: Guide & Tips

Bird of Paradise Plants Care: Guide & Tips

The Bird of Paradise plant – also known as strelitzia – is a regal tropical plant that makes for a stunning indoor or outdoor addition. 

About Bird of Paradise Plants

The regal Bird of Paradise plant, with its large leaves and magnificent flowers, are native to South Africa, though they have come to be associated with tropical scenes across the world and are often used as landscape plants in warmer regions of the Asia, United States and Southern Europe. In colder climates, they can be grown indoors as an impressive houseplants. 

The distinctive bird of paradise (Strelitzia) is one of the best-known tropical flowers. It is closely related to - and often confused with - the banana plant.

The bird of paradise plant is named for closely resembling the tropical bird named in the same way. It is quicker to grow than many tropical plants and makes for a vigorous, easy growing indoor plant. It can be moved outside in the summer and thrives outdoor for half the year.

Bird of paradise usually flowers in late winter or early spring, but it can flower at other times of the year when provided the perfect conditions. Strelitzia is mildly toxic to cats and dogs.

Common Name

Bird of paradise, crane flower 

Botanical Name

Strelitzia reginae, Strelitzia nicolai

Family

Strelitziaceae

Plant Type

Herbaceous perennial

Mature Size

3.5-6 ft. tall, 3-4 ft. wide

Sun Exposure

Full to partial

Soil Type

Loamy

Soil pH

Slightly acidic

Bloom Time

Late winter to early spring

Flower Color

Orange or white

Hardiness Zones

10-12 (USDA)

Native Area

Africa (South Africa)

Toxicity

Toxic to pets

 

Bird of Paradise Outdoors

How to Plant Bird of Paradise Plants

A healthy bird of paradise is a fast-growing plant and will need careful attention to its pot. If you notice your plant is growing more slowly, it is either because of low water or low temperatures.

  • Bird of Paradise plants prefer to be pot-bound, so use a small container with just about 1 inch of space between the roots and pot.

  • 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. 

How to Care for Bird of Paradise Plants

Basic Care for Bird of Paradise Plants

Light

This plant needs a lot of bright light, including some direct sunlight, to bloom. However, it requires shielding from the direct summer sun, which can easily burn the younger leaves. A good position would be in a room with windows facing either east or west receiving plenty of light for half of the day.

Soil

Use rich, well-drained potting mix for potted plants or a compost mixture. When using a pot, make sure it has big drainage holes to allow water to flow through the soil and out of the pot without stagnating.

Water

Keep the soil moist throughout the year. While it should not be waterlogged, expect to water it daily in the spring and summer as the plants loses a lot of moisture through its big leaves. If overwatered, the plant will develop crunchy brown leaves. If underwatered, the leaves farthest from the center will turn yellow.

Fertilizer

This plant is a very heavy feeder. Feed it in the springtime with slow-release pellets or weekly during the growing season with liquid fertilizer.

Bird of Paradise Indoors

Bird of Paradise Pest and Diseases

  • Bird of Paradise may have trouble with scale insectsmealybugswhiteflies, and aphids.

  • Root rot can also occur from potting soil that does not drain quickly, or from overwatering.

How to Propagate Bird of Paradise Plants

The best ways to propagate birds of paradise are division and sowing seeds. Division is easier and quicker than growing from seed for obvious reasons. It's best to use mature plants that have been previously blooming for at least three years.

  1. Depending on the size of your plant, you will need large instruments like a shovel and saw for in-ground or large plants. For smaller plants, you can use a sharp knife. You will also need a new pot and a well-draining potting mix.

  2. You can remove the new growth or offshoots at the base of the plant that has at least three leaves and divide the rhizome below ground with a shovel, saw, or knife.

  3. Repot in a new container with a well-draining potting mix.

Common Problems With Bird of Paradise

Bird of paradise is a relatively easy-going plant with very few issues. The most common problems are root rot and insects that prey on the plant when its optimal conditions are not met. But, if it's not overwatered, kept well fed, and given ample light and air circulation it will not incur in any of them.

Wilting or Browning of Leaves

The most common disease affecting bird of paradise is root rot. When the roots of the plant sit in water or the soil gets too soggy for a prolonged period, fungi causing root rot can overtake a plant. It can be easily avoided by letting the soil dry out between waterings. Another sign you have root rot is a rotting smell from the soil.

Bird of Paradise Brown Leaves

To fix root rot, pull up the root ball, cutting away blackened, moldy parts of the rhizome, apply a fungicide according to the instructions, and repot in a sterilized container with fresh, well-draining soil.

Curling Leaves

Curling leaves are a sign of underwatering. You can avoid this problem by giving more water and making sure that the water runs freely from the bottom of the pot. This thorough watering ensures that all the roots have access to water.

Bird of Paradise Curly Leaves

Yellowing Leaves

Yellowing leaves can mean several things. Firstly, if an occasion leaf turns yellow, and the plant is a mature plant, it can be the normal life cycle of the leaf of that plant.

However, if many leaves begin to yellow quickly it can be a sign that the plant does not have enough humidity, it needs more nutrients, or it's not getting enough water. Try checking each of those factors see if that solves the problem.

Bird of Paradise Yellow Leaves

Slits or Breaks in the Leaves

This plant's leaves are huge. If your bird of paradise develops slits or breaks in the leaves, especially if your plant lives outside for some part of the year, it's natural and normal.

The plant develops slits naturally to allow the plant to circulate air around its leaves and roots. Wind and breezes contribute to slitting. Air circulation keeps mold and other pests from settling in.

Bird of Paradise Split Leaves Breaking

Bird of Paradise Varieties

Different varieties of bird of paradise are not hard to come by in most garden centers, and they have been increasing in popularity a lot in recent years.

  • 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 sub-variety ‘Mandelas’s Gold’ has yellow sepals and blue petals.

    • Bird of Paradise ‘Juncea’ (S. reginae var. juncea) is a sub-variety of the orange Bird of Paradise. It produces smaller flower and the 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 beautiful white flower highlighted with dark blue.

Bird of Paradise Flower

Bird of Paradise Did You Know

  • The Bird of Paradise plant is also known as the Crane Flower.

  • When not in bloom, this plant has large 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.

Bird of Paradise Summary

Bird of paradise are arguably one of the best houseplants to grow, especially if you live in warm climates. This evergreen tropical plant, has huge deep green leaves that stem out of the center and when the conditions are right it will produce some big, vibrant, stunning flowers resembling the shape of a colorful tropical bird – hence the name Bird of Paradise.

When it comes to automated plant care systems, bird of paradise are one of the plants that usually struggles with them, as it requires infrequent but heavy watering with intermittent dry periods. Only truly smart plant care systems like KORU can adapt to each plant's different needs, helping them to thrive by measuring light, temperature, humidity and soil moisture.