Native to South Africa, the bird of paradise plant (Strelitzia sp.) is known for its large flower that looks like a bird in flight. These tropical plants have 18-inch-long and 6-inch-wide, leathery, evergreen leaves borne atop erect stalks. The plant grows 3 to 5 feet tall in a clump and can tolerate brief winter temperatures down to only 24 degrees Fahrenheit. The white bird of paradise (Strelitzia nicolai) is a much larger species, growing 15 to 30 feet tall in a tree-like shape.
Water your white bird of paradise deeply to soak the soil around the roots once every two to three days during the first six months after planting it. Water established bird of paradise plants once or twice per week during the spring, summer and early autumn, reducing watering to only when the soil becomes dry during the winter.
Spread a 2 to 3-inch-thick layer of organic mulch in a circle on the ground around the base of the white bird of paradise. Keep the mulch about 1 to 2 inches away from the stems to prevent stem rot, and add more mulch as needed to maintain the thickness of the layer.
Feed your white bird of paradise with a balanced, controlled-release fertilizer once every three months during the spring and summer, according to the instructions on the label. You can also apply organic fertilizers like manure or blood meal.
Trim off any old flower stalks or dead leaves from the white bird of paradise throughout the year to keep the plant tidy. This will also help to prevent fungal diseases that can reside in the dead plant tissues. Also, prune away any dense offshoots that grow from the base of the white bird of paradise plant.
Divide the white bird of paradise plant into clumps during late spring or early summer. Dig up the plant and divide it into single-stem plants, replanting the divisions at the same depth as they were previously growing.