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 lightVery few houseplants should be placed in direct sun. High light refers only to bright indirect light since direct sun often burns the leaves of indoor houseplants. An area that is too hot and dry encourages Spider Mites and causes blooms to quickly fade. A northern exposure really doesn't provide enough light for high light plants. These plants need to be placed directly in front of an east-facing window, within 1-3 feet of a west-facing window, and within 5 ft. of a south facing window. A high light area has over 300 ft. candles of 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
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.
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.
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.