The bird of paradise is a large, striking plant with pointed plumed flowers that resemble crowned birds peeking out from the foliage. The leaves are long and broad, like those of a banana tree. Bird of paradise blooms range from white to orange and blue, and are native to South Africa. The city of Los Angeles named the bird of paradise its official city flower. In the United States, bird of paradise plants are grown outdoors in the southern states---but the plant also grows indoors, as a houseplant.
Bird of paradise plants prefer crowded living conditions. Place bird of paradise in a container that is similar in diameter and depth to the container in which you purchased the plant. Repotting is not necessary every year. Instead of repotting, remove the first several inches of potting soil and replace with fresh potting soil every spring.
Indoors, place the plant in the sunniest windows. Curled leaves indicate that the plant suffers from lack of adequate lighting. Bird of paradise needs a minimum of five to six hours of bright, direct sunlight indoors. If your sunniest window cannot provide this, consider supplementing with artificial lights or moving the plant outdoors.
Bird of paradise plants require little water. They are more likely to die from over rather than under watering. During the spring and summer, water the plants until the soil is moist throughout. Do not water again until the soil feels dry to the touch. The bird of paradise is dormant during the fall and winter months; during these months do not water the plant. Occasionally mist the plant with a spray bottle filled with filtered water when you use your home's heater.
The blooms of the bird of paradise are large and vibrant. The plants naturally bloom during the months of September through May. Indoors, blooms are encouraged by keeping the plant root bound in a tight-fitting container. Fertilize with a water-soluble houseplant fertilizer every other week during the months of March through September, to help the plant store energy to bloom.
The bird of paradise is not prone to any fungal or soil diseases. The plant's only potential problems are mealybugs and spider mites. These tiny parasites leave sticky excretions on the undersides of leaves. Control infestations with insecticidal soap (see Resources section). Wipe the leaves with a water-dampened cloth once or twice a month, to discourage infestation.