The bright orange and blue flowers of the bird of paradise plant (Strelitzia reginae) symbolize the tropics. Reminiscent of a bird in flight, the flowers add drama outdoors as landscape plantings and indoors as houseplants or cut-flower arrangements.
European gardeners first learned of the bird of paradise flower in 1773, when it was added to British King George III's royal garden. The plant is named in honor of George's wife, Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.
The bird of paradise is native to South Africa, where it grows wild. In the United States, the bird of paradise is a popular landscape plant in Florida and California. It is hardy in USDA Zones 9 through 11.
In colder climates, you can grow bird of paradise flowers indoors. Keep the plant in a sunny spot and water whenever the soil feels dry. Move the plant outdoors in summer. Give it full sun and water frequently for maximum blooming.
Bird of paradise flowers need plenty of nutrients. Plant in rich, acid soil. Fertilize outdoor plants monthly and houseplants every two weeks with a liquid plant fertilizer.
Bird of paradise plants grow in clumps and reach about 3 feet in height, making them ideal for use as shrubs. They also make good container plants.
You can grow bird of paradise plants by dividing and planting the clumps or from seed. Seeds, however, need up to eight weeks to germinate and the plants take four to seven years to flower.
- University of Wisconsin Master Gardener: Bird of Paradise
- Floridata: Strelitzia reginae
- University of Florida: Bird of Paradise
bird of paradise, tropical plant, Strelitzia reginae
About this Author
D.M. Cameron was a journalist and editor for wire services, newspapers and magazines for more than 20 years. In addition to editing and ghost-writing non-fiction books, Cameron now writes for several websites and trade journals. Cameron's degrees include a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Penn State.