Last Updated on September 1, 2022 by Plant Mom Care
Also known as Strelitzia reginae or crane flower, is indigenous to Southern Africa and was named after Queen Charlotte of England. There are 5 species in the genus, with two species are widely grown as houseplants.
It gets its popular name from its colorful flowers that look like brightly colored birds. It was first introduced in England in the late 1700s and is featured on the 50 cent coin of South Africa. It was chosen in 1952 to be Los Angeles’ floral emblem.
It can grow as tall as 6 feet, with large leaves reaching almost 28 inches in length and 12 inches wide. The colorful flowers grow on the tips of long stalks that stand above the leaves.
Sunbirds pollinate the flowers when the plant is growing outdoors and hand pollination has to be done in areas not native to these birds.
This is a plant that is low-maintenance and can be cultivated easily indoors as well as outdoors. If it gets sufficient light and is cared for properly, it will flower several times a year. The plant will usually begin flowering between two-five years.
Bird of Paradise Light Requirements
The plant grows well in full sunlight as well as partially shaded conditions. It’s best to grow it in partial shade if you happen to live in very hot regions to prevent leaf burn. The plant will not flower if lighting requirements are not sufficient.
Bird of Paradise Watering
Water the plant well weekly and again when the top of the soil becomes dry, as it prefers the soil to be moist, but not very soggy.
Planting boxes or pots that feature a water reservoir are ideal for this plant in hotter areas. Watering should be less in winter when growth slows down.
Bird of Paradise Humidity
The plants thrive indoors at average levels of 40 percent humidity. The plant will benefit from sporadic misting in winter when humidity levels drop.
Bird of Paradise Temperature
It can tolerate temperatures between 65-70° F, usually requiring at least four hours of adequate lighting but needs warmer temperatures and plenty of light to produce flowers. It does not do well in temperatures below 50°F and can suffer severe damage below 24°F.
Bird of Paradise Soil
The plant grows well with the regular feeding of soluble plant fertilizer. Feed the plant in early spring every 2 weeks and once per month in summer.
They will thrive in rich loamy soil amended with compost that drains well.
Bird of Paradise Repotting
The Bird of Paradise likes to be a little pot-bound, but larger plants have to be repotted every 2-3 years in spring. As always, the new pot has to be bigger than the original. However, you can reuse the old pot, just make sure to use fresh soil and trim the roots.
Grasp the plant as close as possible to the soil and ease the plant from the old pot gently. Shake the plant to get rid of excess soil and repot with fresh soil, watering well after you’re finished. This is also an ideal time to divide the plant if you’re planning to make new plants.
Bird of Paradise Propagation
The main aim of pruning the Bird of Paradise is to allow air and light into the center of the growing area, to increase flower growth, and to prevent fungal growth. Cut off selected or unattractive leaves and stems close to the ground to make space and remove any dead flowers, stems, and leaves around the plant.
Propagation is somewhat easy. There are two ways to do it – by seed and by plant division. Plant division is the easiest method and is best done in spring. Cut off a piece of rhizome with a fan or leaf attached with a knife.
Dust the cut with some rooting hormone and plant each section in a small pot filled with rich loamy soil that drains well. Don’t water the new plants as yet – allow the cuts to at least heal for a day before watering
It can be grown from seed but this is a slow process that can take some time for the seed to sprout so you have to be very patient. Make sure the seeds are fresh and dry, preferably soon after you harvest them.
The seeds must be soaked in water at room temperature for about three days to help the germination process, changing the water every day. You also can scrape/damage the seed coat if you want. Sow the seeds in a well-watered potting mix, about an inch deep.
The germination area should be in indirect bright light with a temperature of at least 85°F. Make a miniature greenhouse over the pot by covering it with plastic cling film to keep the soil moist and humidity in. However, plants germinated from seeds can take many years to flower.
Chemicals in tap water might cause the edges of the leaves to become brown. You must make sure that tap water stands for a day to allow the chemicals to evaporate.
Leaf splitting occurs naturally and is not a big problem. However, the leaves tend to split if under-watered but misting or wiping the leaves with a wet cloth will help curtail this.
Rotate the pot regularly to get the plant to grow evenly and symmetrical.
Bird of Paradise Common Problems
It is an easy, low-maintenance plant to cultivate, but it can be affected by over or under-watering and root rot disease.
Splitting leaves is normal for this plant. However, it needs to be monitored in winter to prevent more splitting due to low humidity – wipe both sides of the leaves with a wet rag, and misting will help reduce splitting.
Yellow leaves can indicate that either the soil is too soggy due to over-watering or perhaps the plant is not getting enough light.
Wilting or curling leaves indicate the plant is under-watered. Leaf burn can also be caused by too much feeding.
While this plant is very resistant to pests, insects like scale and spider mites can still attack plants. Use Neem oil to control any pest infestation.