If you're looking for a spectacular plant for a warm weather garden, consider planting a white bird of paradise (Strelitzia nicolai). Visitors to your garden can't help but be impressed by the sheer size of the white bird of paradise, which can reach heights up to 30 feet and can span 10 feet across. The big, white bird-shaped blooms will nestle into the foliage, which spreads out in a fan shape, with leaves 5 to 8 feet long. White bird of paradise, often called the giant bird of paradise, is a tropical plant and won't tolerate frosty winter weather.
Plant white bird of paradise where it will have plenty of room to spread. Don't plant it too near a house or sidewalk, as its size can eventually become a problem. White bird of paradise should be planted in full sunlight.
Water white bird of paradise heavily during the first six months after planting. After that time, the plant should be watered often during the warm summer months. The soil should be moist, but not soggy. During the winter months, water only when soil is dry.
Spread 2 to 3 inches of mulch around the base of the bird of paradise Plant, but leave a 3-inch margin uncovered directly around the trunk. Mulch will keep weeds under control, retain moisture and an even soil temperature, but if mulch is allowed to pile up against the trunk, the heat and moisture buildup can cause rot. Mulch can consist of organic materials such as wood chips or pine needles, or inorganic materials such as gravel.
Spread a general purpose time-release fertilizer around the base of the white bird of paradise plant every three months during spring and summer, according to the directions on the label. Be sure to water immediately after applying fertilizer. If you prefer, you can use organic fertilizers such as blood meal or manure, worked into the top of the soil.
Remove dead and yellowing leaves and spent blooms from the bird of paradise plant. Keeping the plant neat will not only improve the appearance, but will improve air circulation, reducing the possibility of fungus and disease.