Bird of Paradise Plant

A Bird of Paradise plant (Strelitzia) is native to South Africa and part of the Strelitziaceae family.

 Outdoor Bird of Paradise Plant

There are five main types of Bird of Paradise plants; and, while some are perfect to grow as indoor houseplants, others, because of their size, should only be grown as landscape plants. Strelitzia alba (White Bird of Paradise), Strelitzia caudata (Mountain Strelitzia ), Strelitzia nicolai (White bird of paradise or giant bird of paradise; wild banana; blue-and-white strelitzia) are all extremely large plants sometimes growing as tall as 20 ft. The strelitzia juncea (African Desert Banana plant) is smaller, reaching a height of only 6 or 7 ft. When you visit a garden shop to purchase a Bird of Paradise to put inside your home, be care not to choose any of these!

Indoor Bird of Paradise Plant Description

The most popular Strelitzia species used as an indoor plant is the Strelitzia Reginae. It has very large, blue/green, oblong, leathery, paddle- shaped leaves that resemble those of a banana plant. Even indoors a Bird of Paradise plant with its upright, stiff leaves can easily reach a height of 4ft-6ft (1.2m-1.8m). After 4 or 5 years and the plant matures, it may, on rare occasions, produce spectacular, exotic- looking, orange, red and blue flowers called crane flowers” (because they resemble the head of a crane). In warm climates, an outdoor Bird of Paradise plant often flowers throughout the year producing 25-30 flower spikes that can last for weeks.

Quick Care Tips for A Bird of Paradise Plant

Very bright light but no afternoon sun

Water from the bottom to prevent the soil from becoming compacted

Fertilize only in the spring and summer; too much plant food causes leaf tip

Repot immature plants every spring.

When rootbound, the large leaves do not open


If you have bright, warm spot in your home, with plenty of room for a large, impressive plant, a Bird of Paradise is an excellent choice. Keep the leaves clean and healthy by spraying them with a mild solution of warm soapy water. Never spray any product containing alcohol, any commercial leaf shine product, or any commercial insecticide, or fungicide on the leaves of a Bird of Paradise plant. They will ruin the finish on the leaves. A Bird of Paradise is a poisonous plant and is toxic to small children, cats, dogs, and other pets. Read more about common houseplants that can be dangerous in my book  Don’t Feed Me to Your Cat: A Guide to Poisonous Houseplants

Plant Care


A Bird of Paradise plant requires very bright light. This plant can even be placed in the direct sun if you do it gradually and allow the leaves to slowly adapt. You may have to move a Bird of Paradise plant to different areas of your home as the seasons change in order to give it adequate light; placing it close to a south- facing window is always best. The leaves on a Bird of Paradise plant start to curl when it does not get enough light.


In the spring and summer keep the soil moist but never soggy. A Bird of Paradise plant needs less water in the fall and winter. Water from the bottom so the soil stays loose and remains well aerated. Water that has a high salt content burns the leaves.


Feed monthly in the spring and summer when a Bird of Paradise is actively growing; use a balanced plant food diluted to 1/2 the recommended strength. Never fertilize a Bird of Paradise plant in the fall and winter when it is resting. Excess plant food deposits salts in the soil and these salts cause leaf tip burn.


An indoor Bird of Paradise plant grows best in temperatures between 65°-75°F (18.3°-23.9°C) during the spring, summer, and fall. In the winter, when the plant is “resting,” keep the temperature 10° cooler. Temperatures below 50°F (10.0°C) cause the leaves to curl and turn black.


A Bird of Paradise plant does well in basic household humidity.


Unlike the outdoor varieties, an indoor Bird of Paradise plant rarely blooms.


A Bird of Paradise is susceptible to scale, mealy bugs, and spider mites. Fortunately, these plant pests are quickly detected on the large broad leaves and easily wiped off with a soft cloth or warm soapy water. Alcohol, leaf shine, or any spray pesticide should never be used on the leaves; they harm the matte finish on the leaves.


The large leaves of a Bird of Paradise Plant are susceptible to a plant disease called Leaf Spot which can be caused by either a fungus or a bacteria. Remove infected leaves from the Bird of Paradise Plant quickly, clean out any leaf pieces in the soil, and avoid getting water on the leaves. If using a commercial fungicide, test it first on a small section of a leaf to be sure it won’t ruin its appearance.


Use a basic potting soil that retains water but drains well.

Pot Size

Check to see if the roots of the plant have filled the pot. If the plant is root bound, it may not be able to absorb enough water for the new leaves to unfold. When re-potting a Bird of Paradise, move to the next size pot and nothing larger, be sure there are drip holes in the bottom of the pot. A 3′-4′ Bird of Paradise plant is usually available in 10″ pots. A 5′-7′ Bird of Paradise comes in a 14″ pot.


Cut off any dead or damaged leaves and stems close to the soil.


The best way to propagate a Bird of Paradise plant is by plant division. You can read about the plant division techniques in the Glossary of the website.

Resting Period

A Bird of Paradise rests in the fall and winter and requires less water, no fertilizer, and cooler temperatures.

Poisonous Plant Info

A Bird of Paradise plant has a #1 toxicity level.


How Do I Get My Bird of Paradise Plant to Bloom?

A Bird of Paradise needs to be a mature plant, at least 4 or 5 years old, before it’s even capable of blooming. Once it reaches that age here a few ways to encourage it to bloom. Keep a Bird of Paradise plant root- bound and very crowded in its pot. Never re-pot a Bird of Paradise that is older than 4 or 5 years. Replace the upper 30% of the soil, leaving the top of the roots exposed. A Bird of Paradise plant needs a great deal of bright light in order to bloom, moving the plant outside for the summer helps. Use a fertilizer high in phosphorus during the summer to encourage flowers. In all honesty, indoor Bird of Paradise plants ever bloom.

What Should I Use to Clean the Leaves of My Bird of Paradise Plant?

Remove the dust and clean the leaves of a Bird of Paradise plant with a dilute solution of warm soapy water. Never use any leaf shine products they will mar the beautiful leaves.

Why Are the Leaves of My Bird of Paradise Curling?

The leaves of a Bird of Paradise plant curl when the plant is not getting enough light. Try moving your plant to a brighter location. If that doesn’t fix the problem, try giving the plant more water. If the leaves on your Bird of Paradise plant curl and also turn yellow or blotchy, check for spider mites.