The white bird of paradise (Strelitzia nicolai), is the larger variety of the familiar bird of paradise plant. Although the white, bird-shaped blooms are impressive, the white bird of paradise is grown mostly for its dramatic leaves, which spread out in an impressive fan-shape. The white bird of paradise plant can be divided at ground level, and in two years the new bird of paradise plants will be mature enough to flower. Divide white bird of paradise in late spring or early summer.
Choose a planting site for the divided white bird of paradise plants ahead of time so that the divisions can be planted as soon as possible. Select a spot where the white bird of paradise will be in partial shade. Although the plant will grow in full sunlight, the blooms will be smaller. Hoe out any weeds, and remove rocks and large dirt clods.
Locate a clump growing at the base of the white bird of paradise plant. Insert a garden fork into the ground about 6 inches from the clump. Rock the garden fork back and forth to loosen the roots. Continue working around the base of the clump, then use the garden fork to lift the clump carefully from the soil and away from the main white bird of paradise plant.
Remove any weak, yellowing or dead leaves from the clump, along with any roots that are brown and spongy. Rinse the excess dirt off the clump with a garden hose to make it easier to see the plant's natural divisions. Use your hands or a sharp knife to divide the clump at the natural division points. Each clump should have one stem and several roots.
Mix 10 parts water with one part household bleach in a bucket, and soak the divisions for 10 minutes. The bleach solution will kill any pests and diseases that could be passed to the newly divided white bird of paradise plant.
Dig a hole for each division, and plant each one at the same soil level at which it was previously planted. Water the plants thoroughly, and keep the soil moist for at least three months, or until the roots are established. After that time, continue to keep the soil evenly moist throughout the growing season.
Apply 2 to 3 inches of organic mulch such as bark, sawdust, leaves or pine needles around the base of the plants, but leave a 6-inch circumference uncovered immediately around each plant so that mulch won't pile up against the trunk. Mulch will conserve moisture, control weeds and help to maintain a consistent soil temperature.