How to Care for a Bird of Paradise Plant
The bird of paradise flower (Strelitzia reginae) is a plant of tropical origin, specifically from Baja California (the Mexican state). It is visually striking and well-known for its distinctive orange sepals and blue petals which give the plant its name. This is because it looks like the beak of certain birds, also the reason it is sometimes known as the crane flower. As an exotic plant, it requires certain basic care to help it flourish. These include temperature, light, watering and fertilization.
In this oneHOWTO article, we explain how to care for a bird of paradise plant. We also show you how placing the plant indoors or outdoors affects its care.
What light and temperature does the bird of paradise plant need?
Light and temperature are two elements of essential care for a bird of paradise flower. Without the correct levels of both, they will not achieve optimum levels of health and growth. Considering the plant is of tropical origin, the bird of paradise flower needs more light than most to help it flourish. In total, it should receive at least 3 to 4 hours of direct sunlight to grow and flower.
For this reason, the bird of paradise is not well-adapted to shaded areas and shouldn't be placed in the middle of other foliage. If they are kept outdoors, it is important to know they will not survive well in low temperatures or if they experience severe frosts. The ideal temperature for a bird of paradise plant ranges between 12 ºC and 25 ºC (53 ºF - 77 ºF).
If you live somewhere with a cool climate, you will likely need to keep the bird of paradise flower as an indoor plant. Even better, you may want to choose from our list of cold-weather-resistant plants.
Best location for a bird of paradise plant
As explained above, the best location for a bird of paradise flower will depend on different factors. If you are able to keep the the plant outdoors, you will still need to consider the amount of light and sun it will receive. This means an outdoor bird of paradise flower should be located in a part of the garden exposed to direct sunlight. For indoor plants, this will likely mean it needs to be placed beside a window with direct sunlight.
If you live somewhere cold with little direct sunlight, you might want to choose an indoor plant better-suited to low light.
How to water a bird of paradise plant
Watering a bird of paradise plant is another of its basic care requirements we need to mean if we want it to be healthy. The crane flower needs constant humidity, something which mimics its native tropical climate. However, the amount of watering it requires is only moderate. The perfect balance is to have a substrate which is damp, but never to have pools of water in the pot or flower bed.
With these considerations, you can establish a watering schedule whereby the plant is lightly watered every day or every other day in the summer months. In the winter, we will need to allow more time between waterings, approximately once every 72 hours. Of course, if the plant is outdoors the amount of watering will depend on rainfall.
How to fertilize a bird of paradise plant
The best fertilizer for the bird of paradise flower is one that is rich in potassium and nitrogen. These provide the nutrients required to help its flower bloom. Magnesium is another important mineral, something which helps to provide the brightness and intensity of its sepals and petals. The bloom of the bird of paradise flower is between aumtun and late spring, but it will only flower after 5 years of age.
Providing fertilizers for the plant has a positive impact on its chances of flowering. It should be applied every 15 days, especially during the pre-flowering stage.
How to transplant a bird of paradise plant
Spring is the best season to transplant the bird of paradise flower. You need an annual transplant until it is 5 years old. After this time, you will only have to remove 3 cm of the upper part of the substrate in summer and change it for a new mixture.
In a situation where you don't know when the bird of paradise plant can be transplanted, we recommend you do it in early spring. This is better than doing it in the warmest months of the year which might make it difficult for the plant to adjust. You will need a pot which is a little larger than the previous, increasing the circumference until you each about 30 cm in diameter.
If you don't want to care for a plant which has as many requirements, you might want to check out how to care for Devil's Ivy. This is an easier plant for beginner horticulturists.
Follow these steps to transplant a bird of paradise plant without damaging its roots:
- To avoid causing damage to the roots, try to extract the root ball with special care. This is the mass of earth stuck to the roots.
- Remove the pieces of soil caught in the roots with your hands.
- Take the new pot and prepare the substrate mixture. We recommend using manure mulch and coarse sand to provide good drainage. This way you will prevent it from flooding easily.
- Finish the process by planting the bird of paradise in the new pot and covering the roots.
How to propagate a bird of paradise plant
The last thing you need to know about caring for the bird of paradise plant is the keys to its propagation. As with transplantation, the best time to propagate is in early spring.
The bird of paradise is a plant that produces ‘children’, which means that it generates more than one bud on its sides. From a single plant you can take two or more to grow separately. Follow these instructions so that the bird of paradise plant propagates and you can have many more flowers in your garden or home (indoor or outdoor):
- Take a seedling from the plant and place it in a new container. Do it with a trowel, digging in vertically and deeply. This will help you to lift it later without damaging its roots.
- Water the newly planted plant in the new pot abundantly. Also water the rest of the plant, but without waterlogging.
- Keep your full attention on the state of the separated plants as they propagate and care for them according to the instructions above.
If you decide that taking care of a bird of paradise plant isn't for you, there are plenty more to choose from. Our guide to the best outdoor plants for partial sun might be helpful in finding what's right for you.
If you want to read similar articles to How to Care for a Bird of Paradise Plant, we recommend you visit our Gardening & plants category.