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How to Transplant a Giant Bird of Paradise

The giant or white bird of paradise (Strelitzia nicolai) is a member of the family Strelitziaceae. Tropical in nature, giant birds of paradise can grow outdoors in U.S. zones 9 and 10. Reaching a height of 20 to 30 feet at maturity, with a spread of 10 feet, their size can make them difficult to transplant once full grown. If you are deciding to move your giant bird of paradise to a different location in your landscape, it is best to do so while the plant is still young.

Water the soil heavily around the giant bird of paradise before you start the transplanting process. This helps soften the ground and reduces stress to the plant’s roots as you dig around them.

Dig a trench around the root system using a flat-edged shovel. Allow a 10- to 12-inch diameter of root ball for every inch of trunk diameter. Do not dig under the roots, just cut through their sides. Dig down approximately 2 feet to cut the lateral roots. Replace the top soil into the trench and allow the plant to adjust to the root pruning for one month.

Water the area again before the transplant to help soften the ground, making it easier to dig and help keep the bird of paradise's root ball intact.

Prepare the new planting site by digging a hole that is twice as large as the root ball and as deep as the plant is presently growing in the ground. Water the new planting hole.

Situate a large tarp next to the giant bird of paradise so you can lay the plant on it.

Dig around the trenched area. Dig as deep as the root system is growing to obtain as much of the root system as possible. Dig underneath the plant to include as many of the taproots as possible, until the giant bird of paradise becomes loose in the planting site. Cut any large roots with loppers to release the plant from the hole.

Remove the giant bird of paradise from its hole and allow it to lay on its side on the tarp. Drag the tarp to the plant's new planting site, being careful not to disrupt the root system.

Situate the plant into its new hole and begin filling the hole with soil. Fill the hole halfway and stomp down on the soil to remove air pockets. Continue filling the hole and stomp down on the area again once filled.

Water the newly planted giant bird of paradise well, making sure the water reaches down into the root system. Continue to water the transplant to keep the soil moist for the first three weeks. Once established, cut back to once or twice per week, depending on your weather conditions.

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