The Bird of Paradise plant, Strelitzia reginae (Stre-litzia regi-nae or Strel-it-zia re-ginae) is an evergreen perennial popular as a landscape plant.
This species is native to the coastline of southern Africa. In its natural habitat, these tropical plants grow in patches that can go on for miles.
Owing to the colorful appearance and open flowers that resemble an exotic bird, this species is also known as the “bird of paradise” or the “crane flower.”
On the other hand, the botanical plant name commemorates the nobles and royals.
The term ‘reginae’ directly translates to “of the queen” and honors the British Queen, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Sterlitz, wife of George III.
The leaves of the bird of paradise are evergreen and arranged in two ranks.
While the foliage is attractive, these plants are grown for their flowers.
The species crossed Europe in 1773 when introduced by explorers.
Since then, it has been grown all around the world as ornamental plants, especially in countries that enjoy sunny weather.
Strelitzia Bird of Paradise Plant Care
Size & Growth
The ‘orange’ Bird of Paradise grows up to 6′ feet tall. However, when grown indoors, this species can be contained to 3′ feet. Once the plant reaches its full height, sideway sheaths, more commonly known as spathe, starts to appear.
These sheaths act as the “beak” of the flowers and are generally strong enough to withstand the weight of multiple sunbirds, which enjoy the nectar and pollinate the flowers at the same time.
The foliage is considerably wide and bushy, with leaves growing up to 2′ feet in length and around 12” inches in widthwise.
Strelitzia reginae is a slow-grower and takes a few years to reach blooming size.
Bird of Paradise Flowers and Fragrance
Bird of Paradise plants begin to flower once plants mature in 6 – 7 years. Once blooms appear, the plant continues to produce beautiful and colorful flowers for a long time.
With proper care and under the right conditions, these plants flower multiple times in a year.
Keep in mind that each plant will produce around 5 – 6 flowers in succession. The flowers stand above the foliage and generally stay in bloom for an adequate amount of time.
The flowers resemble the colorful crown feathers on the head of the crane.
The blooms sit on top of the spathe – three orange sepals sticking out from the spathe while blue or deep-purple petals hold the nectar of the flower.
Keep in mind that birds, especially sunbirds, like to feed on the nectar from these flowers.
Therefore, you are growing Strelitzia in your garden, be prepared to host frequent visits by birds.
Light & Temperature
These plants enjoy moderate warmth and bright light and require moderate temperatures throughout the year.
During the colder months of the year, Bird of paradise can tolerate temperatures of 55° degrees Fahrenheit.
Make sure your plants are comfortable year-round and receive the best growing conditions, maintain temperatures in the range of 70 – 90° degrees Fahrenheit.
In its natural habitat, Strelitzias generally enjoy an adequate amount of light.
These plants thrive and flourish best when they receive loads of light but look best when kept out of full sun.
Too much intense heat or too much sunlight can damage the flowers.
Choose a spot where your plant can receive bright, yet indirect sunlight.
Watering and Feeding
Bird of paradise require regular watering to survive the hot months of the year. During summer, it is important to keep the soil moist at all times.
However, as the temperature starts to drop, it is advisable to reduce watering. Water only once the soil is completely dry.
Keep in mind that these plants enjoy high humidity. If the weather is too dry, keep a spray bottle handy to mist your plants, especially when grown indoors.
Birds of paradise are heavy feeders. Applying fertilizer in spring will provide your plant with all the nutrients it requires to bloom.
Use slow-release granular fertilizer to feed plants during spring and summer.
During the flowering season, liquid plant food can also be used on a weekly basis.
In autumn and through the winter months, limit feeding to once a month.
Soil & Transplanting
These plants do well in almost all types of soils. Standard potting mix will grow these plants fine.
However, it is best to use well-drained, rich and loamy soil for these plants.
Repot the plants only when they become pot-bound and outgrow their current pot.
The best time of the year to transplant these plants is early winter.
Grooming and Maintenance
Bird of paradise is a low-maintenance plant that is easy to grow and care for.
Once established, these plants are usually self-sufficient under the right conditions.
How to Propagate Strelitzia Reginae
Strelitzia reginae can propagate from seeds as well as by division.
Keep in mind that while propagating this species through seeds can take up to 3 – 5 years after germination to flower, cuttings can affect the parent plant.
In other words, when the parent plant is divided, it can stop flowering for up to a year!
Here’s how you can propagate Bird of paradise by division.
- Remove a mature plant from its pot in late spring or early summer.
- Untangle the roots and separate into single-stem.
- It is best to separate a clump that is at least 2”- 3” inches wide.
- Dip the roots in root hormone and plant it in the smallest pot.
- Refrain from watering the planted roots for around 2 days, allowing the plant to form calluses.
Bird of Paradise Strelitzia Pest or Disease Problems
These plants are generally sturdy and do not suffer from serious pest or disease problems.
However, here’s a list of some things that can affect the growth and overall health of these plants.
• Overwatering / Wet Feet turns into root rot
• Leaf blight
Crane Flower Strelitzia Uses
Strelitzia reginae is considered to be mildly toxic for pets and even humans, if consumed in large quantity.
Despite, its mildly toxic nature, it is grown as an ornamental plant indoors and outdoors. In the Cape, the seeds are also used to sour milk.