How to Care for a White Bird-of-Paradise


The white bird-of-paradise (Strelitzia nicolai), or giant bird-of-paradise, is part of the Strelitziaceae family, which is named for the vividly colored flowers produced that look like a tropical bird's head, according to the University of Hawaii. The leaves are large (over 3 feet long), resembling banana leaves, and they grow up in a fan-like shape from the trunk. The white bird-of-paradise is not native to North America and prefers subtropical environments, but it does grow well in USDA hardiness zones 9B through 11. This tree can reach mature heights of 20 to 30 feet with spreads ranging from 6- to 10-feet wide.

Step 1

Plant your white bird-of-paradise in either full sun or partial shade. According to the University of Florida, white bird-of-paradise plants grown in full sun will be smaller and produce shorter flower stems, while those grown in partial shade will grow taller and produce bigger flowers. Make sure the location has well-drained soil, and space the plants at least 6 feet apart, with enough area around each for the expected mature size.

Step 2

Dig the planting hole for the white bird-of-paradise two to three times the width of the rootball, and at the same depth. Water the white bird-of-paradise, and remove it from the container. Place it in the hole, and verify that it is at the same ground level (or slightly above) what it was in the container. Backfill the hole halfway, then fill with water to get rid of any air pockets. Finish filling the hole, and create a watering basin (mound of soil) surrounding the planting hole.

Step 3

Fill the basin with water and allow it to drain. Add more soil on top of the plant after watering, if necessary to cover the exposed rootball. Continue to water weekly to retain moist soil conditions, especially during the first six months, and during each growing seasons thereafter. Water less when rainfall is present. Water the white bird-of-paradise in winter only during extremely dry conditions.

Step 4

Cover the area surrounding the white bird-of-paradise with a 2- to 4-inch layer of mulch. Do not put any mulch against the trunk of the tree, and extend it out at least the size of the canopy. This prevents weeds from emerging and retains moisture in the soil. Replace the mulch yearly, as needed.

Step 5

Fertilize the white bird-of-paradise with organic, granular or slow-release fertilizers, as directed on labels, throughout the growing season. Spread the fertilizer in the region of the mulch, and water thoroughly to push it down into the soil and the roots.

Step 6

Cut away any dead blossoms or leaves, as needed, to retain a healthy plant. The white bird-of-paradise plant requires "little pruning to develop a strong structure," according to the University of Florida.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Water
  • Mulch
  • Fertilizer
  • Pruning shears


  • University of Hawaii: Bird-of-Paradise
  • University of Florida: Bird-of-Paradise
  • University of Florida: White Bird-of-Paradise

Who Can Help

  • University of Florida: Strelitzia nicolai: White Bird-of-Paradise
  • Floridata: Strelitzia nicolai
Keywords: Strelitzia nicolai, Giant Bird-of-Paradise, plant white bird

About this Author

Diane Dilov-Schultheis has been writing professionally since 2000. She is a food and travel writer who also specializes in gaming, satellites, RV repair, gardening, finances and electronics. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and has been published on Yahoo!, the Travel Channel and Intel.