How to Grow and Care for A Bird of Paradise

Written by Natalie Anstey

Bring a taste of the exotic indoors with this beautiful and unusual plant! - The Strelitzia reginae, otherwise known as the Bird of Paradise or Crane Plant, is a regal looking indoor plant and it is not difficult to see why!

It has gloriously bright, and bold blue and orange flowers shaped like an exotic bird, surrounded by large paddle shaped leaves.

Though a slow grower, it is extremely robust and can grow up to 5ft- 6ft, and usually flowers within the first 2 to 3 years of growth. Don't worry your patience will be rewarded with this truly stunning and magnificent houseplant! 

Botanical Name:Strelitzia reginae
Common Name(s):Bird of Paradise, Crane Plant
Plant TypeEvergreen perennial 
Place of Origin:South Africa 
Sun Exposure: Direct, full sun 
Watering Schedule:Every 7-10 days 
Seasonality: Autumn through spring 
Bloom Time: Winter through spring
Toxicity:Unsafe for cats and dogs 

BIRD OF PARADISE LIGHT REQUIREMENTS:

The Bird of Paradise requires conditions similar to its native South Africa, which means SUN, SUN, SUN!

As a sun worshiper,
this plant will grow best in a western- or southern-facing window sill where it can receive between 6-8 hours of bright, direct sun. Placing your plant roughly 2 to 3 feet from the window will ensure optimal sun exposure without the threat of leaf burn

If it is not possible to give your Bird of Paradise direct sun exposure, then it can also grow in indirect sun; It will be a little slower to grow. 

Rule of (Green) Thumb: Artificial lighting or grow lights can be a really effective way to grow plants that need a lot of sun in spots that are shady! With grow lights the world really does become your oyster!

BIRD OF PARADISE WATER REQUIREMENTS:

As a humidity loving plant, the Bird of Paradise should be kept moist but make sure it does not become waterlogged. It is advisable to let the top half of the soil dry out before watering again to avoid rot and choose a pot with good drainage and water until it drains out the bottom.

The Bird of Paradise is not a fan of the chemicals found in most tap water so try to use filtered or rain water. 

Rule of (Green) Thumb: Whilst distilled or filtered water may seem an expensive option, it is not the only option! Fill a bowl with water and leave it for 24 hours - this will allow chlorine and any other nasties to evaporate away and your plants will thank you for it!

BIRD OF PARADISE TEMPERATURE REQUIREMENTS:

HOT, HOT, HOT! The Bird of Paradise loves conditions that mimic its native South Africa, meaning that it flourishes in temperatures between 60℉ and 85℉.

Unfortunately this is not a plant that will tolerate frost of any kind, so make sure to keep it indoors when the weather begins to cool in the fall. 

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Drop element here!

BIRD OF PARADISE HUMIDITY REQUIREMENTS:

The Bird of Paradise likes high humidity ranging from 60% - 70%; Although it will tolerate 50% if it needs to. Keep a spray bottle nearby to give it a good mist with room temperature water if you notice the leaves become brown and crunchy.

Rule of (Green) Thumb: Placing your pot on a tray of wet pebbles is also an easy way to increase the humidity levels as is sitting the plant near other plants. 

BIRD OF PARADISE SOIL:

As with all indoor plants, drainage is key. Allow sufficient drainage in the bottom of the pot using gravel or stones and use a slightly acidic and loamy soil (pH 5.5-6) that is rich in nutrients and organic matter. This mix should hold water well, but not allow water to remain stagnant in the soil .

BIRD OF PARADISE FERTILIZER:

Caring for your Bird of Paradise is simple! From spring to autumn feed the Bird of Paradise with a liquid feed every two weeks and reduce this down to once a month in winter.

BIRD OF PARADISE REPOTTING:

The Bird of Paradise does like to be snug in their pot, so don’t fall into the trap of too large a pot. They don’t like to be repotted too often as this can affect how well they flower.

When you notice that roots are sticking out of the bottom of the pot, this is the best time to repot and replenish the soil. Make sure not to disturb the roots too!

Rule of (Green) Thumb: The Bird of Paradise plant will only flower when it reaches maturity, so patience is key. Once the plant gets to about 3ft you should start to see that it will start producing flowers.

BIRD OF PARADISE PROPAGATION:

Propagating your Bird of Paradise is quick and easy. The best time to propagate your Bird of Paradise is during the spring.

At this time simply take your plant out of the pot, shake off the soil and carefully separate it making sure each section has good rhizome growth. - Once this has been done, repot your new Bird of Paradise plants with fresh compost and water.

You can also grow Bird of Paradise from seed but this is tricky and takes a long time.

It can take several months for the seeds to germinate. Gently scratch the surface of the seeds and leave in water for a day or two. Plant in seed trays or pots and place in a sunny and warm window and try to recreate a greenhouse environment by covering with plastic wrap or cling film.

Once your plant is higher than 5 inches you can then transplant into a bigger pot.

BIRD OF PARADISE DISEASES & PESTS:

01. Mealybugs- Mealybugs love the sweet sap of new growth and show up on a Bird of Paradise as white tufts. They are greedy and can destroy a Bird of Paradise quickly so make sure to clean the leaves and treat with an insecticide or neem oil. 

02. Spider Mites - The easiest way of telling if your Bird of Paradise has spider mites is little white spots on the leaves or webbing on the stems. Wipe the leaves to remove the spider mites and then use an insecticide or neem oil.

03. Scale - These appear as brown spots or a white sheen on the leaves and are very often confused for water residue or dryness. pests can live on the scale and cause a lot of damage. Again the best option is to use insecticide or neem oil.

04. Leaf Curl  -  This is normally down to underwatering and/or not enough humidity. Water more often or give it a good mist and this should help.

Rule of (Green) Thumb: Insects thrive on dry leaves; by using a humidifier or misting the leaves often the creepy crawlies will have nowhere to sit comfortably and this will help keep infestations at bay.

BIRD OF PARADISE PLANT TOXICITY:

Although beautiful to look at, Birds of Paradise are mildly toxic if ingested so keep away from your furry friends.

Download the Flora App for more tips and tricks on how to take care of your Bird of Paradise!