Bird of Paradise, known botanically as Strelitzia reginae, is a tropical flowering herbaceous shrub native to South Africa. It is a relative of the banana. Considering its dramatic blooms, strelitzia is a relatively low-maintenance shrub. However, its tropical heritage must be respected by keeping the plant safe from freezing temperatures.
Protection from Freezing
Grow your Bird of Paradise in climates where ambient temperatures consistently remain above 32 degrees Fahrenheit to protect the flower buds from damage or death. In cooler climates, grow the plants in large containers that can be moved indoors when temperatures drop below freezing.
Location & Soil
Plant and grow Bird of Paradise in nutrient-rich, moist soil that is heavy in organic content but remains easy draining so water does not pool on or below the surface. Provide a full sun to partial daily shade exposure for optimal blooming and allow at least a six-foot interval between multiple plants to allow the flower stalks on the perimeter of the plant to spread outward.
Watering & Mulching
Water your plants to keep the surrounding soil moist at all times but not soaking wet as root rot and leaf yellowing will result. Water frequently in spring and summer and less frequently in fall and winter. Mulch around the base of the plant with organic material such as shredded bark or compost to help hold moisture in the soil and prevent its loss to evaporation, as well as to keep competitive weeds at bay. Start the mulch a few inches out from the main stems to prevent rot and other disease conditions.
Fertilize your Bird of Paradise with organic or slow release fertilizer to prevent burning of the roots and consistent light feeding throughout the growing season. Cast the fertilizer around the root zone every three months according to the label dosing directions. Water in well until the soil is drenched to a depth of at least six inches.
Prune back spent bloom stalks down to the base of the stalk between the leaves just above the crown of the plant. Cut back any dead, damaged or diseased looking foliage, again removing the individual stalks down to the crown of the plant.