Bird of paradise plants (Strelitzia reginae) are native to South Africa and have flowers that resemble multicolored birds. The stems can reach 5 feet tall. Louisiana lies within United States Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 and 9, with average low winter temperatures between 10 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit. Since bird of paradise plants cannot tolerate temperatures below 24 degrees Fahrenheit for more than a few hours at a time, Louisiana gardeners should cultivate these tropical plants in containers that can be grown indoors and placed outdoors during the summer, if desired.
Move your bird of paradise indoors when temperatures begin to dip below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, which usually occurs around September in Louisiana. Set it in a sunny location--near a sunny, south-facing window or in a sunroom is ideal.
Water your bird of paradise plant when the soil is dry to the touch. Then water it until the water drains out the holes in the bottom of the container. You’ll notice that in the summer, watering will be more frequent than during the winter.
Fertilize with an all-purpose houseplant fertilizer every other week indoors and every week in the summer. Follow the dosing amount on the label, which will differ among fertilizers, and always water after fertilizing.
Mulch around the base of your bird of paradise during the summer if you keep your plant outdoors. Use about 2 inches of mulch, such as bark or pine needles. This will help the soil retain water, especially during Louisiana’s hot summer. Keep the mulch 2 inches away from the stem of plant to prevent rotting.
Pinch off wilting flowers to encourage more blooms. Discard the blooms away from the plant to discourage disease and insects.
Mist your bird of paradise with a water-filled spray bottle during the winter when the air is drier in Louisiana and your heat is likely on. Two to three times a week will suffice.