Gardening

How to care for a Bird of Paradise Plant

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The Bird of Paradise plant, or strelitzia, is a large and gorgeous foliage plant that looks just as majestic indoors in a pot, as it does outside in the garden.

WATCH: Plant selection and placement tips

This plant is famous for its round palm-like leaves and its brightly-coloured architectural flowers that bloom to look like tropical birds – earning the strelitzia the household name of ‘Bird of Paradise’ plant.

Strelitzia require a little bit of extra care if you want it to look lush and gorgeous all year round – and if you want the flowers to bloom then you’ll need to be extra diligent. Here is our guide to growing a Bird of Paradise plant.

What is a Bird of Paradise?

Bird of Paradise is native to Africa, strelitzia can grow up to 1.3 metres tall and spread up to two to three metres wide when aged, and has similar foliage to that of banana leaves. It’s an evergreen variety and is a tropical plant.

There are three strelitzia species: reginae, juncea and nicolai, and all are used to make a dramatic impact in the garden, as hardy foliage plants or to create a tropical-look garden indoors and outdoors.

The flowers usually appear between April and November, but may not appear until the plant is 4 to 5 years old. The Bird of Paradise plant is also poisonous to cats and dogs if eaten, so steer clear of this one if your pet has a habit of chewing on your plants.

outdoor bird of paradise plant strelitzia
(Credit: Getty)

How to care for a Bird of Paradise outside

The garden experts at Bunnings suggest popping you strelitzia in a suitably warm and sunny position, and don’t forget to keep it watered in summer.

  • Strelitzia prefer warm temperatures and sheltered areas that don’t get cold.
  • Strelitzia prefer light, free-draining soil with an extra bit of fertilizer or compost every three months during growing season.
  • Keep the plant in a warm and sunny position, away from draughts.
  • Will tolerate minimal shade.
  • Strelitzia like moisture during hot weather.
  • Divide in-ground plants every 5 years.

How to care for an indoor Bird of Paradise plant

The horticultural gurus at Yates suggest giving an indoor strelitzia a solid start to life indoors. 

  • Keep the plant in a sunny, brightly-lit spot
  • Water when the surface of the soil feels dry
  • Be careful not to over-water, and reduce watering during the cooler months.
  • When soil is completely dry, water enough to saturate the soil then not again until completely dried out.
  • Use a high-quality potting mix to fill your pot and choose a pot at least 40cm wide pot with holes for drainage.
  • Give the plant a feed once a fortnight during spring and summer, but don’t feed it during winter.
  • Usually requires re-potting every 3 years.

Common mistakes

  • Not enough sunlight and moisture means the flowers may not bloom
  • Not dusting the large leaves.
  • Over-watering is bad for this plant, only water when needed
  • Most common disease are fungus-based, and root rot.

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