How to Remove the Roots of a Bird of Paradise Tree


Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae) is an herbaceous perennial growing up to 30 feet in height at maturity. Known for its bird head-like flowers that bloom periodically year-round, the plants are attractive additions planted outdoors in frost-free areas of the United States. The plant has a clumping habit with a large, tuberous root system that can reach over 2 feet in length. Removing the roots of a bird of paradise is the same as removing the roots of any plant. Since the tuberous roots can grow back, gardeners need to remove or kill the entire root system to stop the plant from regrowing.

Step 1

Turn off all water to the area affecting the bird of paradise during the root removal process. Water will revitalize the plant and wash herbicidal products off the plant.

Step 2

Prune all the branches of the bird of paradise as close to the ground as possible. This makes the area more manageable for digging purposes. It also creates fresh wounds in the plant’s branches for the herbicide root killer to work better.

Step 3

Apply the herbicide stump/root killer per the directions, over the freshly cut branches, as soon as possible after making the cuts. Applying the herbicide while the wounds are fresh and not starting to heal over allows for better absorption into the plant’s inner tissues and into the roots. Treating the roots with an herbicide before digging assures they will not regrow if some remain in the soil after removal.

Step 4

Dig a trench using a spade shovel around the bird of paradise that is 1 to 2 feet wider than the diameter of the plant. This assures any side roots are removed and do not remain in the soil undetected. Dig the trench as deep as the plant’s roots, which can be approximately 2 feet deep into the soil.

Step 5

Chop the roots with the spade or machete to loosen them, if they do not easily separate and lift from the soil. Cutting the rooted areas into smaller sections helps in removing them from the ground.

Step 6

Dig the remaining root sections from the ground, inserting your shovel into the cuts and lifting under the plant’s roots, removing them. Use a hard rake to rake the area to remove any small sections of roots left in the hole. Cover the hole with soil after removing the roots.

Tips and Warnings

  • When using herbicides, select products without long-term soil effects, if you will be replanting in the area after removing the bird of paradise.

Things You'll Need

  • Loppers
  • Hand saw
  • Herbicide
  • Sprayer
  • Spade shovel
  • Machete
  • Hard rake


  • Floridata: Strelitzia Nicolai
  • Washington State University Extension: Chemical Control for Woody Plants, Stumps and Trees
  • Rod's Garden: Remove Tree Roots and All
Keywords: bird of pardise, removing Strelitzia roots, Strelitzia Nicolai roots

About this Author

Joyce Starr is a freelance writer from Florida and owns a landscaping company and garden center. She has published articles about camping in Florida, lawncare, gardening and writes for a local gardening newsletter. She shares her love and knowledge of the outdoors and nature through her writing.