The evergreen Strelitzia reginae or the bird of paradise, is an exotic perennial plant. The plant has distinct pointed bracts or spathe that contain upright and long petaled flowers, linear leaves, and non-woody stems. It is also known as the Crane Flower for its beaked bracts and tufts of spiky flowers.
The bird of paradise is native to South Africa and thrives in tropical conditions, but, with proper care it can be grown in colder regions too. Being a flowering species closely related to the banana plant, the leaves of the two plants look similar. However, unlike the banana plant, the bird of paradise lacks a trunk and instead grows in dense clumps.
Instructions for Bird of Paradise Plant Care
The bird of paradise is a slow-growing plant and can take as long as 7 years to bloom. This plant can attain a height of 1.5-2.0 meters and has a foliage spread of 1.0-1.5 meters. It can take close to 15 years for this plant to attain is complete height.
As the bird of paradise is a tropical plant, it needs plenty sunlight and humidity to grow. It can grow well in USDA hardiness zones of 10a to 11a. Long exposure to frost can shock the system of the plant and hamper its growth. In frost-prone areas, it must be grown in a large container or clay pot so that it can be placed in a greenhouse or kept indoors.
The plant is tolerant to various types of soil such as, alkaline, acidic, loamy, sandy, chalky, and neutral soil. Even though the bird of paradise plant is dependent on moisture, is must be watered sparingly in winter so as to prevent the roots from rotting.
Younger saplings must be given a peat-based mix and sprayed with a liquid fertilizer every month. On the other hand, a gritty mix must be used for older plants. A loam-based mulch is also ideal for plants that are grown in greenhouse beds and containers. In order to avoid rotting, ensure that you do not cover the base of the stem with mulch.
Another important factor to be kept in mind while taking care of a bird of paradise plant, is to make sure that the plant is given adequate feed or fertilizer. Plants growing in rich soil need not be treated with fertilizer during the first few years. Providing feed to potted and greenhouse plants encourages faster blooming.
The bird of paradise plant tends to become a tad invasive. Hence, you will need to keep overgrown suckers in check. These plant and root suckers can either be manually plucked or sliced from the base of the main plant.
Diseases and Pests
Although generally disease-free, the bird of paradise plant is susceptible to rotting and should be treated with fungicide. It can also get infested with mealybugs, scale insects, and red spider mites. Spraying the underside of the leaves with lukewarm soap solution will ensure that these pests are removed.