The bird of paradise (Strelitzia reginae), also called the crane flower, is a tall-growing tropical plant that's native to South Africa. Bird of paradise plants bloom in large flowers with blue petals and orange sepals that resemble a bird in flight. A single plant can bloom in 36 flower spikes each year. Growing 3 to 5 feet tall in clumps, the bird of paradise has stiff leaf and flower stalks, with leathery evergreen leaves. Bird of paradise plants enjoy tropical to subtropical climates; it can endure freezing temperatures for a short time, but in cold climates gardeners should move the plant indoors for the winter.
Water bird of paradise plant from spring until autumn two or three times per week to soak the soil down to and around the root ball, unless rainfall is adequate. During winter, water the plant to evenly moisten it only when the soil begins to dry out.
Spread a 3-inch layer of mulch on the ground around the base of the bird of paradise plant to control weeds, regulate soil temperatures and preserve soil moisture. Cover the entire root area of the plant with mulch, but keep the mulch about 2 to 3 inches away from the stems to prevent rot.
Feed bird of paradise once every three months while the plant is actively growing with an organic or controlled-release plant fertilizer. Follow the directions on the fertilizer label carefully.
Remove all dead or fallen leaves from the bird of paradise plant to prevent diseases and insects, as well as to keep the plant tidy. Cut old flower stalks back to the ground
Divide bird of paradise plants during late spring or early summer by digging up and separating the clumps when they contain four to five shoots. Separate the clumps into single stems and replant them at the same depth as they were originally growing.