Botanical Name: Strelitzia reginae
The Bird of Paradise plant gets its name from the exotic flowers that look like the head of a crane.
The flowers stand above the foliage on tall stalks that rise up from the base of the plant. Flower bracts are sharply pointed and held horizontally, looking like a bird's beak.
Bright orange and blue flowers fan out from the spathe, forming the bird's colorful crest.
Bird of Paradise blooms only when mature. You can expect blooms on a plant that is more than 5 years old in spring and summer. Each flower lasts about a week, but each spathe will produce several flowers that bloom in succession.
A spectacular specimen when in bloom, but its lush, deep-green foliage is attractive on its own. The oblong, leathery leaves have deeply textured veins and look like the leaves of a banana plant. Give this plant plenty of room...its leaves grow to 18 in (46 cm) long.
Repot new plants in spring. Move into a larger pot each year until it grows to about 3 ft (90 cm). Thereafter, top-dress each year as needed. Bird of Paradise plant needs to be almost root-bound before it will bloom.
Origin: South Africa
Height: 3 ft (90 cm)
Light: Bright light with at least 4 hours of direct sun each day year-round. A south-facing window, sunroom or greenhouse is ideal to give it the light it needs.
Water: Water thoroughly, but allow the the soil to dry out a bit between waterings. In winter, water sparingly.
Humidity: Average room humidity.
Temperature: Average room temperatures spring through fall 60-75°F/16-24°C. In winter, a cool rest 50-55°F/10-13°C is needed.
Soil: Any good potting mix.
Fertilizer: Feed monthly spring through fall with a balanced liquid fertilizer such as 10-10-10.
Propagation: Seeds or division. Divide a mature plant in spring, only when absolutely necessary (i.e., it's bursting out of its pot). The plant may not bloom again for a few years until it is almost root-bound again.
Keep this plant in a sunny spot year-round. One of the common reasons mature Bird of Paradise does not bloom well is insufficient light. It needs full sun in the summer and as much light as possible in winter.
You can move your plant outdoors for the summer. Just be careful to acclimate it to the stronger light gradually or it could get sunburned. Be sure to bring the plant back inside before the first frost.