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How to Remove the Roots of a Bird of Paradise Tree

By Joyce Starr ; Updated September 21, 2017
Bird of paradise has a large, tuberous root system.

Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae) is an herbaceous perennial growing up to 30 feet in height at maturity. Known for its bird head-like flowers that bloom periodically year-round, the plants are attractive additions planted outdoors in frost-free areas of the United States. The plant has a clumping habit with a large, tuberous root system that can reach over 2 feet in length. Removing the roots of a bird of paradise is the same as removing the roots of any plant. Since the tuberous roots can grow back, gardeners need to remove or kill the entire root system to stop the plant from regrowing.

Turn off all water to the area affecting the bird of paradise during the root removal process. Water will revitalize the plant and wash herbicidal products off the plant.

Prune all the branches of the bird of paradise as close to the ground as possible. This makes the area more manageable for digging purposes. It also creates fresh wounds in the plant’s branches for the herbicide root killer to work better.

Apply the herbicide stump/root killer per the directions, over the freshly cut branches, as soon as possible after making the cuts. Applying the herbicide while the wounds are fresh and not starting to heal over allows for better absorption into the plant’s inner tissues and into the roots. Treating the roots with an herbicide before digging assures they will not regrow if some remain in the soil after removal.

Dig a trench using a spade shovel around the bird of paradise that is 1 to 2 feet wider than the diameter of the plant. This assures any side roots are removed and do not remain in the soil undetected. Dig the trench as deep as the plant’s roots, which can be approximately 2 feet deep into the soil.

Chop the roots with the spade or machete to loosen them, if they do not easily separate and lift from the soil. Cutting the rooted areas into smaller sections helps in removing them from the ground.

Dig the remaining root sections from the ground, inserting your shovel into the cuts and lifting under the plant’s roots, removing them. Use a hard rake to rake the area to remove any small sections of roots left in the hole. Cover the hole with soil after removing the roots.

 

Things You Will Need

  • Loppers
  • Hand saw
  • Herbicide
  • Sprayer
  • Spade shovel
  • Machete
  • Hard rake

Tips

  • Select an herbicide that completes the job in days or weeks instead of months, as some stump-killer products do.
  • Bird of paradise is a fibrous plant, and if chopping it down using a chainsaw, be prepared to clean the blades frequently because the plant’s debris can clog the chain.

Warning

  • When using herbicides, select products without long-term soil effects, if you will be replanting in the area after removing the bird of paradise.

About the Author

 

For over 25 years, Joyce Starr has owned businesses dealing with landscape & design, lawn maintenance, specialty herbs and a garden center. She holds certificates in landscape design and xeriscaping. Starr shares her passion for nature in her writing, publishing articles on horticulture, outdoor recreation, travel as well as business.