How to Cultivate a Bird of Paradise

Overview

Bird of paradise (Strelitzia reginae), a flowering perennial also known as crane flower, produces colorful blue and orange flowers that look similar to a tropical bird's head. Native to South Africa, the plant cannot grow in cold temperatures. Gardeners in the United States typically grow the bird of paradise indoors or in containers for overwintering indoors. The plant only survives winter outdoors in the extreme southern areas of the country. Reaching up to 5 feet in height, bird of paradise creates a tropical accent inside or a spectacular focal point outside.

Step 1

Grow bird of paradise in a container that is large enough to hold the root system without crowding and that has drainage holes in the bottom. Use an all-purpose, soil-based potting mix with good drainage. Plant so the root ball rests just below the soil surface to prevent delayed flowering.

Step 2

Place the plant in an area of the home that receives bright, direct sunlight, such as a south-facing window. Although bird of paradise tolerates medium light levels, it performs best and blooms most abundantly in full sun.

Step 3

Maintain a consistent indoor temperature of 65 to 70 F during the daytime and 50 to 55 F at night. Bird of paradise requires warm growing temperatures to thrive. Keep the plant away from drafty doors and windows, heated appliances and heating vents.

Step 4

Water bird of paradise once every seven to 10 days during the spring and summer, allowing the soil to dry out moderately between applications. Decrease watering to once every two weeks during the winter as sunlight diminishes, or whenever the soil feels dry to the touch. Apply water until it begins to exit the bottom of the container, then drain away excess.

Step 5

Feed the plant once every two weeks during spring and once every week during summer. Do not feed during fall and winter; bird of paradise requires fewer nutrients during this time. Use a balanced houseplant fertilizer according to the label instructions for the best results.

Step 6

Mist the air surrounding bird of paradise with a spray bottle of tepid water once a day in dry rooms or once every other day in average humidity. If leaves begin to curl and turn black, increase misting, because the plant is not receiving enough humidity.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not repot bird of paradise after the initial planting. Disturbing the roots may delay flowering for several years. The plant prefers to remain root-bound, and it blooms most reliably when allowed to stay in the same container throughout its life.

Things You'll Need

  • Container
  • Soil-based potting mix
  • Houseplant fertilizer
  • Spray bottle

References

  • Clemson University Cooperative Extension: Bird of Paradise
  • University of Florida IFAS Extension: Bird-of-Paradise
  • "Tempting Tropicals: 175 Irresistible Indoor Plants"; Ellen Zachos; 2005
  • "Beyond the Windowsill: Add Style to Your Home With the Beauty of Indoor Plants"; Jon Carloftis; 2007

Who Can Help

  • The United States National Arboretum: USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map
Keywords: bird of paradise, Strelitzia reginae, crane flower care

About this Author

Willow Sidhe is a freelance writer living in the beautiful Hot Springs, AR. She is a certified aromatherapist with a background in herbalism. She has extensive experience gardening, with a specialty in indoor plants and herbs. Sidhe's work has been published on numerous Web sites, including Gardenguides.com.