A Bird of Paradise Plant to Bring a Tropical Look to Your Home  

The Bird of Paradise plant is a popular addition to any home garden, and even for the entryway. Their dramatic tropical foliage and brilliant flowers are an incentive for any plant lover. With the right care, these exotic plants will reward you with their stunning style and create a dramatic focal point for your indoor or outdoor garden.

What is a Bird of Paradise Plant?

Bird of Paradise PlantView in gallery

The Bird of Paradise plant, also known as a Crane Flower and Strelitzia, is a tropical evergreen that is native to South Africa. It has deep green foliage that is large and glossy, similar to banana plants to which they are related. When grown outdoors, it has gorgeous orange and purple/blue flowers that resemble a bird of paradise. It can bloom indoors, though because of the lack of ideal humidity and light, this is rare.

The plant experts at Costa Farms recommend using Bird of Paradise plants indoors to create vertical presence and fill empty corners. They also favor these large plants for patio spaces as they thrive outdoors in warm climates.

Bird of Paradise Plant Care Details

Botanical nameStrelitzia spp
LightBright indirect light
WaterWater when the top of the soil dries out; do not overwater
FertilizerAll purpose houseplant food every two weeks during the spring and summer
PestsSpider mites, mealybugs, scale insects
DiseasesLeaf spot, root rot
SoilWell draining soil mixed with perlite to increase aeration
Climate ZonesHardy in Zones 10-12, sometimes Zone 9
Size3-8 feet tall indoors and 20 feet outdoors, leaves are 12-18 inches long
FoliageLarge, dark green leaves with a glossy finish
FlowersBlue/purple and orange or white and blue flowers, plants do not flower indoors
ToxicityToxic for pets and small children

Caring for Bird of Paradise Plants

Bird of Paradise care is not difficult, but they flourish if you follow specific conditions.


Light Needs

The Bird of Paradise plant, similar to other tropical varieties like the dwarf umbrella tree, thrives in bright indirect light. Under these conditions, your plant will grow tall and lush. Indoor plants grow best in the same conditions. Too much direct sun burns delicate new growth leaves but a sunny spot works well during the winter season.


Water Needs

The Bird of Paradise plant grows best if you allow the soil around the plant to dry out between waterings. If your plant is indoors, don’t allow the entire pot to dry out. Instead, allow just the top 2-3 inches to dry before watering again. Make sure the roots never sit in excess water as this can cause root rot. You can avoid this with well-draining soil and a pot with good drainage holes. Be prepared to water more often in the summer. Plant experts at The Sill recommend using filtered water to water Birds of Paradise plants for best results.

Soil Conditions

When you plant a Bird of Paradise plant in your garden landscape or in pots, use well-draining soil with a compost mixture. If you need to aerate soil for Bird of Paradise indoor plant varieties or outdoors, mix the soil with perlite. This will create air pockets so that water will not pool around the roots. The soil should have a pH between 5.5 and 7.5.


Atmospheric Conditions

Bird of Paradise plants are tropical and love high humidity levels and temperatures above 60 degrees Fahrenheit. If you live in a climate that gets below 60 degrees, bring your plants inside during the winter. 

While these plants love high humidity, they will adapt to levels of lower humidity. For Birds of Paradise indoors, raise the humidity by sitting the plant on a pebble tray filled with water or utilize a humidifier. This plant will also enjoy regular misting during hot summer months.


Fertilizer

An all purpose liquid fertilizer administered during the growing season from spring through summer will allow this plant to thrive. Fertilize once every month during the autumn to winter. When a Bird of Paradise is a mature plant, around five years, some experts recommend withholding fertilizer in the late winter to early spring to spur flowering.


Pests and Diseases

Aphids, mealybugs, scale insects, and spider mites are the most common pests of the Bird of Paradise plant. If you see evidence of bugs in your plants apply an insecticidal soap to the bottom side of the Paradise leaves. You can also use a damp cloth to clean the insects off the leaves.

Root rots are some of the most common diseases for Bird of Paradise plants. These are caused by overwatering. If you notice yellowing leaves, cut back your watering or water before nightfall to allow the roots to dry in the sun.


Cleaning and Pruning

The large leaves of Bird of Paradise plants attract dust, so it is helpful to clean them. Take a damp cloth and wipe the plant’s leaves. You can also bring the whole plant into the bathtub to give it a gentle rinse.

Feel free to remove spent flowers and broken or yellowed leaves. Do not remove split leaves as these are a normal part of plant growth.


Potting Dwarf Umbrella Trees

For Paradise plants grown indoors, choose a pot where the root ball can remain exposed at the top. This will keep the plant from becoming waterlogged and promote flowers. Indoor plants also flower better if they are pot-bound. Repot when roots become too cramped for the container.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

Why does my Bird of Paradise plant have curling leaves?

Curling leaves are an indication of a thirsty plant. Water plants at least twice every week if the soil dries out. Water more often in the summer or if your plants are in direct sunlight. Water less during the winter. Wait until the soil in the pot has dried out before watering again.

What are different varieties of Bird of Paradise plants?

There are five different varieties of Bird of Paradise plants. The S. alba, S. caudata, and S. juncea are all tree varieties. S. reginae and S. nicolai are both houseplant varieties. S. reginae has blue/purple and orange flowers. S. nicolai has creamy white flowers that look like a white bird with a gray blue beak.

Where can I find a Bird of Paradise plant for sale?

Look for Bird of Paradise plants at all inclusive local garden nurseries. There are also some providers that sell these plants online and ship them to your door.

Is the Bird of Paradise plant a slow grower?

Under the right conditions, indoor Bird of Paradise plants can grow up to 1-2 feet per year. Outside, these plants are slower growing. They take several years to get established. Outdoor Bird of Paradise plants take around 5 years to reach their full height.

Is propagating Bird of Paradise plants easy?

Dividing mature plants is the easiest way to propagate new Birds of Paradise plants. If you divide mature plants it may stop their flowering, but it is the quickest way to get new plants. You can also grow these plants from seed, though it is a more difficult and time consuming process.

Conclusion

Strelitzia are striking plants that bring texture and dramatic height to indoor and outdoor gardens. For an outdoor tropical garden, pair Bird of Paradise plants with bougainvillea vine, sago palm, and Peruvian lilies.

In indoor spaces, pair these large plants with medium-sized plants like Peace lilies, ZZ Plants, Mother-in-Laws Tongue, and Boston Ferns to create varied height patterns.

Bird of Paradise plants complement diverse garden designs, and their longevity and beauty will reward your patient care.