Bird of Paradise
Carithers Flowers Design Favorite
Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae), commonly called crane flower in its native South Africa, is an herbaceous perennial related to the banana family. It gets its name because its showy flower resembles the beak of a bird in flight. This plant is used in landscape gardening throughout Florida, though it must be protected from the cold in the northern parts. It is cold tolerant to 24 degrees for short periods, but freezing temperatures will damage buds and flowers. Birds of paradise grow best where daytime temperatures are 68-72 degrees and nighttime temperatures are between 50 and 55 degrees.
The evergreen leaves of the Bird of Paradise look similar to banana leaves, with leathery, upright stalks that are about 6” wide and 18” long. The bright blue petals and orange sepals of the flowers bloom intermittently throughout most of the year. The flowers are pollinated by sunbirds, which use its leaves as a perch. Each mature Bird of Paradise plant will produce up to 3 dozen flower spikes per year, and the vase life of the cut flowers is about 2 weeks.
Growing Recommendations - Bird of Paradise
Moisture control is the key to maintaining this slow-growing plant, especially during the first six months. It prefers fertile, organic soil with good drainage. If the soil is either too dry or too wet, the leaves will yellow and the plant will die. Use mulch to help with moisture control, leaving a 2-3” diameter around the stem without mulch so the plant can breathe. From November through February, keep the plant on the drier side. To maximize flowering, space the plants at least 6 feet apart. Plant the root ball so that its top is even with the surface of the soil. Planting in full sun tends to produce smaller plants with shorter flowers, while planting in partial shade yields taller plants with larger flowers. Fertilize the plants every 2-3 weeks from March-Sept with a commercial fertilizer. Remove dead stalks and flowers to prevent fungi. Since Bird of paradise flower best when they are somewhat root bound, they do well in large containers.