Bird-of-paradise, or crane flower plants, are not hardy at temperatures below 25 degrees F, so they cannot be grown outdoors in most areas of North America except for USDA zones 10 and 11. In zones to the north, grow bird-of-paradise as a potted houseplant and bring it outdoors only during the frost-free growing season.
Plant bird-of-paradise plants in full sun to partial shade in rich soil with good drainage. They will tolerate salty conditions, so they make good seaside plants. Do not plant in sand dunes.
Prepare the planting site. Dig a hole that is as deep as the root ball and twice as wide. Mix one 5-gallon bucket of compost with the soil you removed from the hole. Loosen the soil in the bottom of the hole with a gardening fork. Carefully place the transplant into the hole and backfill with the improved soil. Firm the surface of the soil with your foot.
Create a ridge of soil with your hands around the edge of the planting hole. This will catch rainwater.
Water thoroughly. Place a hose set at a slow trickle near the base of the plant. Allow it to water the bird-of-paradise for 60 to 90 minutes to thoroughly settle in the new transplant. Continue to provide your bird-of-paradise with the equivalent of 1 to 2 inches of rainfall per week.
Apply a 6-to-8-inch mulch of shredded bark, wood chips or hay to the soil around the bird-of-paradise. Keep the mulch about 3 inches away from the base of the plant; if it touches it could cause a fungal infection.
Spread slow-release granulated fertilizer around the base of the plant every three months during the growing season. Pull back the mulch, sprinkle the fertilizer on the soil following the manufacturer’s recommended rate of application and replace the mulch.
Remove dead leaves and flower stalks regularly to reduce the chance of fungal infections.
Divide bird-of-paradise every 5 to 6 years, if desired. Cut the rhizome-like roots into pieces with a growing eye on each piece of root. Soak the roots in a solution of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water for 10 minutes before replanting.