Strelitzia alba (L.f.) Skeels
White Bird of Paradise, White Strelitzia
Heliconia alba (basionym), Heliconia augusta, Strelitzia alba subsp. augusta, Strelitzia angusta, Strelitzia augusta
Bloom Time: Usually between July and December
Strelitzia alba is a frost-sensitive, clump-forming perennial that grows up to 33 feet (10 m) tall. The leaves are up to 6.6 feet (2 m) long and up to 2 feet (60 cm) wide. They are often tattered by strong winds or hail. The flowers are completely white and lack the blue color found in other species. Flowering may take place at any time of the year but is usually between July and December. The up to 1 feet (30 cm) long, boat-shaped bract encloses from 5 to 10 flowers, which emerge in sequence. The fruit is a woody capsule, splitting into three lobes to reveal black seeds with a yellow-orange tufty aril. The clean trunk bears the scars of old leaf-bases.
USDA hardiness zone 10a to 11b: from 30 °F (−1.1 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).
How to Grow and Care
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 out. They typically flower in the late winter or early spring, but under optimal conditions, they will bloom at various times.
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. See more at How to Grow and Care for Bird of Paradise Flower.
It is endemic to the Garden Route along the southernmost coastal regions of the Eastern and Western Cape in South Africa.
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