The Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae) is a tropical flowering perennial plant from South Africa. Related to bananas and heliconias, it sports a stunning flower that resembles an exotic bird with blue petals and orange sepals. The entire plant is attractive, including its leathery 6-inch by 18-inch leaves that don't fall from the plant when they die. Although it's tropical, the Bird of Paradise can briefly tolerate temperatures as low as 24 degrees Fahrenheit. This plant will bloom off and on year-round and can produce three dozen flowers over the year, which look great in a vase for two weeks or longer.
Plant your Bird of Paradise in a sunny or partially sunny area with rich soil having good drainage. Allow 6 feet between plants if you are growing more than one.
Water your new plant(s) frequently during their first six months in the ground, but watch for yellowing leaves--if this occurs, cut back on watering. Water your plant(s) only when the soil is dry during winter.
Fertilize your Bird of Paradise to encourage good growth and boost blooming. Every three months apply either an organic fertilizer, such as well-rotted manure or blood meal, or a time-release commercial fertilizer. Use 1 pound of fertilizer each time you apply it to a large clump of these plants. Skip fertilizing during winter.
Remove old leaves and flower spikes when they fade--this helps keep your plant looking nice as well as limiting the ability of certain fungal diseases to get started.
Control insect pests such as scale, aphids, mealybugs and whiteflies with insecticidal soap spray.