Bird of Paradise Guide: How to Take Care of a Bird of Paradise Plant

Bird of Paradise Guide: How to Care for a Bird of Paradise Plant

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With striking bloom colors and a unique leaf formation, the bird of paradise is an absolute show stopper that will add a tropical flair to your garden or indoor spaces. This hardy plant isn’t just a pretty face, it’s also very hardy and adaptable, thriving in different climates and lighting situations.

This complete guide covers everything that you need to know about bird of paradise plants, including how to care for them indoors and outdoors.

Bird of Paradise Details

Strelitzia
AKA Bird of Paradise, Crane Flower
Light: Partial, bright light
Water: Keep soil moist
Temperature: 65 -85 F
Size: Up to 6 feet tall
Pests: Aphids, scale, mites
Disease: Gray mold
Toxicity: Toxic to pets

Bird of Paradise Benefits

Bird of paradise plants can detoxify the air in your home, improve your mood through supplying a meditative gardening activity, and brighten your space, again improving your mood, with their gorgeous leaves and tropical blooms.

These fabulous, feathered eye-catching perennials are native to South America but can be grown in USDA Grow Zones 10-12. Looking for some tropical flair but dismayed that your zone didn’t make the cut? Worry not, these plants because of their adaptability and resilience also make great houseplants. This blooming perennial’s explosive flowers will brighten up your interior spaces.

Caring for your Bird of Paradise Indoors

grow lamp light indoor blooming bird of paradise plant

Light

Bird of paradise plants love light so be sure to position yours on a sunny windowsill. They can tolerate indirect, low light but it’s definitely not their favorite.

Water

During most of the year, the soil should always be kept moist but not soggy. Your plant should be frequently watered, however, it should never just be sitting in water. To prevent this, position it over a saucer or something else that can catch the excess water.

In the winter, allow the top two inches of soil to dry out before watering. You can test this by sticking your fingers into the soil.

Pro Tip: Bird of paradise plants prefers salt-free water. Consider letting your tap water sit in a bowl overnight so the fluoride and chlorine evaporate from it before feeding your plant.

Temperature and Humidity

If your indoor temperature is between 65-80 F, then it’s ideal for a bird of paradise. It may slow its growth in the winter when it is exposed to cold temperatures. To ensure its growth does not completely grind to a halt, make sure it is not positioned near a door or window that you frequently open and allow cold drafts through.

Your bird of paradise loves humidity! Occasionally mist it with a  spray bottle. This will also help remove dust from its leaves. You can also leave a bowl of water next to your plant, which will provide it with humidity when it evaporates.

Soil and Fertilizer

Make sure that the soil you use is well-drained, fertile, and loamy with lots of organic material. A standard potting mix will do fine as long as your pot is well draining and you use a healthy organic fertilizer. Fertilize your plant once a month in the spring and summer. We like a kelp-based plant food—especially for outdoor use.

    GS Plant Foods Organic Liquid Kelp Plant Fertilizer

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    Liquid Kelp is a natural plant food that provides a range of benefits for plant health and growth. OMRI listed for organic use, GS Plant Foods Liquid Kelp Fertilizer is a completely natural, organic kelp fertilizer for plants. Our organic liquid kelp fertilizer will help stimulate natural root growth, mineral uptake and overall plant growth and vigor. This can be applied to any type of soil or plant without concern for waste or harmful chemicals.

Propagation

For all the thrifty gardeners out there who would rather raid their neighbor’s garden for cuttings under the cover of nightfall than buy a plant, fear not, it is actually quite easy to propagate a bird of paradise plant. There are two methods for doing so, you can either divide the plant or use seeds from it to grow a new one.

division propagation of bird of paradise plants repottingDivision

In the early springtime remove your bird of paradise from its pot, and assess to see where its natural divisions are, looking for slight splits between the clusters.

Separate the roots, leaving each section with its own significant clump. I cannot stress enough that you are going to want to be gentle with the roots throughout this whole process. Then, cut the plant apart with a clean, sharp knife. Brush rooting hormone on the cut areas and repot the two sections into their own containers adding fresh potting soil. Wait 2-3 days before watering the plants so they have time to adjust.

Seeds

Collect seeds from your bird of paradise plant and then soak them in a bowl of room temperature water overnight. Gently, slightly, nick each seed with a clean knife to help them sprout and then plant them in a pot with vermiculite, about ½ inch deep. Place a glass jar over the seeds to maintain humidity. Mist the soil, keeping it moist but not to the point of sogginess. Wait for 8-12 weeks for the seeds to sprout and then transplant once they have produced at least 2 leaves.

Growth Rate

This plant does not underperform when it comes to its striking look or growth.

If you treat your bird of paradise right it will grow and bloom quickly, reaching a width of 4 feet and a height of 6 feet tall. On average, bird of paradise plants produce an astounding up to 36 flower spikes a year.

Be wary though, while you can grow these plants indoors, and while they will grow to be a smaller size than outdoors, if they get root locked in their pots they have a tendency to burst them.

Growing Bird of Paradise Plants Outside

You can grow bird of paradise plants outside, adding an eye-catching plant to your home’s exterior!

Make sure that you live in an area where the temperature rarely dips below 50 F before planting your bird of paradise plant. Although they are resilient, freezing temperatures can kill them.

Don’t plant your bird of paradise too close to other plants, spacing them out by 6 feet, so that there is sufficient airflow around them.

Make sure that the soil you use is well-drained, fertile, and loamy with lots of organic material.

You can partially rely on rainfall for water, but also make sure you are frequently watering the plants since they require consistently moist soil.

Bird of Paradise Varieties

Birds of a feather flock together, and the same is true of bird of paradise plants, which all share a colorful, show-stopping look. Below are the most common bird of paradise varieties.

Strelitzia Reginae

When you think about the typical bird of paradise, you are thinking about Strelitzia reginae, the jungle bird of paradise. It is native to South America and thrives in warm, humid climates. This tropical plant has leaves like a banana tree and colorful orange and blue flowers.

Strelitzia Reginae bird of paradise flower

Strelitzia Nicolai

This bird of paradise is very similar to the “typical” bird of paradise variety, except it grows flowers that are white and black with a touch of purple. It otherwise is very similar to the Strelitzia reginae, with large, bright-green, leathery leaves, except it is native to Mexico, not South America.

Strelitzia Nicolai bird of paradise plant outdoors

Caesalpinia Pulcherrima

This bird of paradise is in the Caesalpinia genus, not the Strelitzia genus. It has smaller flowers that are similar to azalea flowers and small, bright-green leaves up and down its thin branches. This bird of paradise is called the red bird of paradise because it produces beautiful, red flowers.

Caesalpinia Pulcherrima bird of paradise

Caesalpinia Mexicana

This bird of paradise has been dubbed the Mexican bird of paradise. It has bright yellow, red, and orange flowers that look like flames, and small leaves just like the red bird of paradise. This shrub is notable for being drought resistant and tolerant of very hot weather.

Caesalpinia Mexicana bird of paradise outdoors

Where to Buy

You can easily find one of these unique beauties online.

Amazon offers a carefully shipped, small but healthy plant that will blossom into a gorgeous bird of paradise bush. If you are a beginner gardener and are looking for a plant that is a little more far along, check out your local garden center.

    Eternal Cover Bird of Paradise Strelitzia Reginae Live Plant

Buy at Amazon
    Bird-of-paradise or crane flower (Strelitzia reginae) is a native of South Africa and is closely related to the banana. The herbaceous plant derives its common names from the unique flower it bears, which resembles a brightly colored bird in flight. The leathery leaves are held upright on stiff leafstalks and are about 6 inches wide and 18 inches long.

Bloomscape also offers a “living room ready” potted bird of paradise in a planter of your chosen color.

    Bird of Paradise in Custom Ecopot

Buy at Bloomscape
    The Bird of Paradise is considered the queen of the indoor plant world. This large, upright plant adds a rich, tropical flair to your space as its glossy, banana-shaped leaves fan out. It is relatively hardy and adapts to a wide spectrum of light conditions from direct sun to low, indirect light, but will flourish in a sunny spot.

Common Bird of Paradise Problems

Although bird of paradise plants are hardy and resilient they can suffer from numerous problems. Below are some of the issues that you may encounter while caring for your bird of paradise.

Yellow Leaves

Over-watering or under-watering your bird of paradise plant can cause yellow leaves. Make sure that your bird of paradise always has moist soil but not soggy soil. To maintain this balance your bird of paradise container should have adequate drainage and your plant should be in well-drained, loamy soil that water can easily move through so it never rots the plant’s roots.  Water your plant frequently, daily during the summer, whenever the top of the soil feels dry.

Once you rescue your plant, trim off the leaves that initially trend yellow because they will not recover.

No Flowers on New Plant

If your plant is young it may take some time before it blooms because it needs to expend energy on growing roots, leaves, and rhizomes. It could take 4-5 years before you see your first bloom. Be patient though because it will be worth it when it finally does. If you propagate your plant, keep in mind that it has to go through the same energy-expending process, and it could be 2-3 years before it blooms again. Also, it should be noted that bird of paradise plants have more flowers when grown in containers.

indoor bird of paradise plant foliage

No Flowers on Old Plant

If you are convinced that your plant not blooming is due to a factor other than age than your plant may be receiving a lack of sunlight. To solve this problem outdoors, try to clear away whatever is blocking the light from your bird of paradise. To fix this problem indoors, move your bird of paradise closer to the window or invest in supplemental plant lights.

Frozen Plant

Bird of paradise plants can tolerate cold as low as 50 F, but past that risk dying of exposure or sustaining injuries to their foliage. Try to cover your plant in the colder months and cut away parts of it that died, or are dying, because of the cold.

White Spots

The most common disease to afflict bird of paradise plants is leaf blight. It normally manifests in white spots on the leaves that have rings of green. To fight back leaf blight apply fungicide to the soil around the plant. To prevent it, make sure that your soil is well-drained and regularly apply fungicide to it.

Conclusion

When it comes down to it, bird of paradise plants are very easy to take care of, their most high maintenance care necessity being the constant waterings they require.

Otherwise, you should have very little trouble growing these gorgeous, green, tropical plant!

I hope you enjoyed this guide and found it helpful! If you did be sure to share it and comment below with your growing questions.

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