Cousin to the banana, the Bird of Paradise Flower (Strelitzia) is one of the best known of all the tropical flowers. Who hasn't walked into a swanky hotel or event and seen magnificent table centerpieces built about these remarkable flowers? Surprisingly, Bird of Paradise is easier to grow than many tropical plants. The plant is a vigorous, rapidly growing indoor plant. They can be moved outside in the summer, and in warmer climes, will thrive for half the year outside. They typically flower in the late winter or early spring, but under optimal conditions, they will bloom at various times.
Light: Bright light, even including some direct sunlight, to bloom well. However, only habituated plants can handle direct, midday summer sun.
Water: Keep soil continuously moist throughout the year. High humidity is preferred.
Temperature: Above 60ºF (15ºC) is preferred in the winter. This is not a cold-tolerant plant.
Soil: Rich, well-drained potting mix.
Fertilizer: Feed in spring with slow-release pellets or weekly during the growing season with liquid fertilizer.
These are rapid-growing plants that need to reach a certain size before they bloom. Repot every spring into a larger pot and make sure to give it room to get big.
By division of underground rhizome during repotting. Can be grown from seed, but the division is so easy, why bother?
Strelitzia is a genus of about 5 or 6 species (depending on who you listen to). Strelitzia reginae is the most well-known species and is frequently grown as house plants. It is a beautiful plant and can be very successfully grown inside. The biggest drawback is typically its size (they grow up to 5 feet/1.5 m) and the fact that plants need 3 to 5 years before they will flower. They work well in massed plantings or as specimen plants, and their flowers will rise above the foliage for an impressive display. The trick to successful growth is providing lots of bright light (with some gentle, direct sun), water, warmth, and food.
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