Bird of paradise (Strelitzia reginae) is a tropical evergreen perennial that produces bird-like flowers with a crown of bright orange petals. There is also a white and blue throat variety. The flowers grow on stiff stems that can reach 5 feet and are surrounded by long, rounded leaves that resemble stiff banana leaves. Birds of paradise are hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Plant Hardiness Zones 9 to 11. Birds of paradise are easy to care for, once established.
Birds of paradise thrive in fertile, organic soil that drains well. Amend soil before planting by mixing organic matter into the existing soil. Birds of paradise should be planted in a hole that is about two to three times larger than the root ball, and the entire root ball should be covered. If your soil is hard or does not drain well, birds of paradise may be planted in a shallower hole, with the top of the root ball covered by organic soil.
Birds of paradise thrive and flower most often in sunny or partly shady locations. When selecting the site for birds of paradise, consider that plants in full sun will have many small blooms, while those in partly shady locations will have fewer, larger blooms on longer stems. The site should also drain well and leave ample room for spread.
Birds of paradise grow in clumps and should be planted about 6 feet apart to allow room not only for spread, but for blooms, which usually grow on the outside of the clump. Plants may be divided, but bigger clumps of plants bloom more often.
Fertilizer and Water
When first planting a bird of paradise, give it ample water to help establish the root system in the first few weeks. The plants will also benefit from fertilization, and you can use organic fertilizers, including manure, or commercially available slow-release fertilizers. When planting, soil should be prepared by mixing fertilizer with existing soil. Once established, fertilize once every three months during the growing season.