Bird of paradise (Strelitzia reginae) is also sometimes referred to as crane flower. It is a widely grown plant throughout the subtropical climates of the world. Bird of paradise is easily recognized by its flower, which resembles the shape of an exotic bird's head leaning out from the foliage. Bird of paradise is an indigenous plant to South Africa and is hardy in the USDA Zones 9 to 11. Germinating bird of paradise seeds requires warmth and sometimes eight weeks or more before the seeds will sprout.
Germinating the Bird of Paradise Seeds
Pour a good quality, seed-starting potting mix into individual 3- or 4-inch plastic pots that have been sterilized beforehand. To sterilize plastic pots, soak them in a solution of 10 parts water and 1 part bleach for two to three minutes. Rinse the plastic pots in hot water and air dry.
Pack the seed-starting potting mix down in each of the 3- or 4-inch plastic pots until it's very well compressed. To do this you can use the base of a 2-inch pot or a small block of wood.
Remove the tufts of "hair" off of each of the bird of paradise seeds.
Set the bird of paradise seeds in a bowl of water and let them soak for 24 hours.
Poke two 1-inch deep holes in the center of each of the 3- or 4-inch plastic pots. Drop one bird of paradise seed into each of the holes. Cover up each of the bird of paradise seeds with 1 inch of the seed-starting potting mix.
Place the 3- or 4-inch pots into a very warm location in your home. The temperature needs to remain consistently around 82 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep the soil in the pots moist by misting the surface of the soil with water as needed. Germination of bird of paradise seeds is sporadic, sometimes requiring eight weeks or longer. Transplant the bird of paradise seedlings when they sprout one to two sets of leaves.
Transplanting Bird of Paradise Seedlings
Use potting mix to fill up 1-gallon pots until each is approximately one-third full.
Measure out 1 tbsp. of a time-release fertilizer, such as 10-10-10 or similar, and add it to the potting mix in each of the 1-gallon pots. Mix the fertilizer into the soil in each of the 1-gallon pots thoroughly.
Add approximately 1 1/2 inches of soil to each 1-gallon pot to cover the fertilizer and soil mixture.
Remove a bird of paradise seedling from one of the 3- or 4-inch pots. Lay the pot containing the bird of paradise seedling horizontally on a table. Use a trowel to strike down on the rim of the pot to loosen the pot and slide it off the root ball.
Set the bird of paradise seedling in one of the 1-gallon pots. It should be sitting at the same level in the soil as it was originally growing. Ensure the seedling is sitting vertically in the pot while you scoop in potting mix around the bird of paradise seedling.
Water each of the bird of paradise seedlings thoroughly. Place them in a sunny location for maximum flowering, or in a semi-shaded location for more brilliant foliage.