Strelitzia nicolai Regel & K.Koch
Giant White Bird of Paradise, Natal Wild Banana, Wild Banana, Natal Strelitzia, Wild Strelitzia
Strelitzia alba subsp. nicolai, Strelitzia quensonii
Color: White and bluish-purple
Bloom Time: Spring to summer
Strelitzia nicolai is an evergreen banana-like plant with erect woody stems. It grows up to 20 feet (6 m) tall and 11 feet (3.3 m) wide. Leaves are grey-green, up to 6 feet (1.8 m) long, and arranged like a fan at the top of the stems. The inflorescence is composed of a dark blue bract, white sepals, and a bluish-purple "tongue." The entire flower can be up to 7.2 inches (18 cm) tall and 18 inches (45 cm) long. It is typically held just above the point where the leaf fan emerges from the stem. The plant flowers throughout the year, with a peak in spring to summer. Flowers are followed by triangular seed capsules.
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 plants are 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 thrive for half the year outdoors in warmer climes. They typically flower in the late winter or early spring, but they will bloom at various times under optimal conditions.
Strelitzia is a genus of about 5 or 6 species (depending on who you listen to). Strelitzia reginae is the most well-known species 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 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.
This species is restricted to evergreen coastal forests and thickets of eastern South Africa from the Great Fish River northwards to Richards Bay. It is also considered native to Mozambique, Botswana, and Zimbabwe.
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