Although native to the tropics, Bird of Paradise or Strelitzia can be successfully grown as a container plant outside of its native region.
Caring for this plant is surprisingly easy, and with the right treatment, this long-lived plant will enliven your space with its stunning blooms for years to come. If you want to grow this plant at home, here you will find everything you need to properly care for Bird of Paradise.
Other than a little more space, this unassuming plant doesn’t need much. It is easy to grow and even easy to propagate. Below are two ways to distribute it step by step.
Although relatively slow growing, taking five or six years to reach adult size, sooner or later birds of paradise will outgrow the pot in which they are planted. It is true that the plant likes the compression of the roots in the container and the lack of space promotes the development of the aerial part and more abundant flowering.
However, the lack of space becomes a limiting factor for further growth after two to three years. Then you have the option of transplanting it into a larger pot or taking advantage of it and multiplying it by dividing it into several smaller ones.
The best time for this procedure is early spring before the start of the new growing season, as the plant needs time to adapt to new conditions. Here’s how:
- Water the plant well before the procedure so that it is easier to remove it from the pot. The soft, moist soil also minimizes root damage when removing the plant.
- Wait ten minutes for excess water to drain after the soil has soaked evenly, then carefully remove the plant from the pot. Remove all dirt from the roots and rinse under a stream of lukewarm water. This is also an opportunity to inspect the root ball and remove any damaged, crushed or unhealthy parts.
- Let the cleaned carrot air dry for 15 minutes or pat it dry with a paper towel.
- While the root dries, prepare new pots and fill them halfway with a fresh mix similar in composition to what the plant was growing before.
- Cut the rhizome so that each part has several developed leaves, using very sharp scissors or a knife that you have previously sterilized. Bird of Paradise cannot be propagated vegetatively. This means that you cannot get a new plant by rooting the leaves. Therefore, it needs leaves and part of the existing root to propagate.
- Place each segment in the pot, add more soil and press lightly with your fingers to keep the plant upright. The new container should not be too big! If there is a lot of space, the plant will invest energy in root development, at the expense of leaf mass. Therefore, use the pot that is just an inch or two larger than the diameter of the root.
- Water the plant, adding more mix if necessary so that the soil is two fingers below the edge of the pot. Then place the new plants in a warm, bright place out of direct sunlight.
The new plants you get this way won’t flower until they reach maturity. Whether it is a mature plant, this division is not a natural means of propagation, so any newly grown portion will need more time to adapt and catch up with the metabolism of the mature plant.
Propagating birds of paradise by sowing seeds is how these plants reproduce in the wild. The hard, spherical black seeds with orange tufts attract birds, which then disperse them across the landscape.
However, Mother Nature is in no rush, so growing from seed is a lengthy process only for those who have the patience to wait for the seed to germinate, which can take between a month and a year! Additionally, plants grown from seed take more than six years to mature and flower for the first time. But if you want to try growing the bird of paradise from seed, here’s the procedure:
- Remove the tufts of orange hairs. In addition to being bait for birds, they do not intervene in the germination process.
- Place the seeds in a bowl of lukewarm water and let them soften for 48 hours.
- Plant the seeds in a moist substrate at a depth of 2.5 cm. You can plant them in small individual pots or, more comfortably, in a pot five centimeters apart.
- Cover the jar with a plastic or glass lid and place it in a bright, warm place. Temperature and humidity play a key role in the germination process, so keep the pot at a temperature of 85 F/30 C.
Then all you have to do is wait! When the seedlings appear and are large enough to handle, you can transplant the baby birds of paradise into separate containers. If you choose small pots with individual seeds, do not move them until the roots have filled the pots.
Seeds in a plastic bag
Instead of planting the seeds in the ground, try another method that speeds up the germination process.
- Place two layers of paper towels in the bottom of the plastic container with a lid.
- Arrange the seeds previously soaked in paper.
- Spray the seeds and paper and cover with another layer of paper, close the box and put it in a warm place.
- Lift the lid occasionally to aerate the seeds and mist as needed.
The advantage of this method is that you can see when a sprout emerges from the seeds. Transfer the sprouted seeds to a pot with moist soil and plant an inch deep.
Cover the pot with a plastic bag to prevent the soil from drying out and place it in a warm place.
If nothing else, at least you will know that the seed is fresh and the process of developing a new plant has already begun. The rest is a question of rhythm that Mother Nature imposes according to her own rules!