What Is So Special About the Bird of Paradise?

What Is So Special About the Bird of Paradise?

Firstly, for good looks (no, make that amazing looks!) it’s hard to beat it indoors or outside as a sub tropical plant.  A perennial, native to Southeast Africa (where it is known as the Craneflower), its beautiful bird-like arrangement of bright orange and electric blue flowers appearing out of its array of upright, paddle-shaped green-grey-blue leaves probably make it the most recognizable of all tropical plants.

In fact, try asking most Kiwi kids what they recognize most in any New Zealand garden and they will undoubtedly choose the Bird of Paradise and the Monarch Butterfly-attracting Swanplant/Milkweed (Asclepias.)

Resembling birds in flight, those stunning flowers are almost Origami in appearance! Additionally, they have a variety of purposes, including planted outside in a landscape situation, where they look so welcoming lining a path to your doorway or as a backdrop against a dark fence or wall; in a pot on a terrace or apartment patio; or as a cut flower in a floral arrangement; or in the home or office to add that splash of the tropics!

Also, unlike a number of ‘tropicals,’ they are relatively easy-care (that’s right, you don’t need to be a ‘green-fingered’ expert!) and even though they flower after about 4-5 years between April-November, they might surprise you by producing the odd flower at any time as they mature.

What should I do to keep my Bird of Paradise in best condition?

  • Choose a healthy looking plant with good roots, bright green leaves, sturdy, thick stems.
  • Pick one that is balanced in terms of width and height.
  • Provide adequate light (bright/indirect indoors; sunny outdoors) to maintain healthy growth.
  • Clean the leaves and remove any damaged/obstructing leaves to ensure energy flow.
  • The leaves transpire, so water well if in a bright room or sunny position outdoors.
  • Fertilise, especially in Spring/Summer with a nutrient-rich, diluted liquid fertiliser.
  • They prefer warm/humid conditions indoors or out; bear this in mind with their location.

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Some handy tips to ensure you get the best out of your Bird of Paradise.

Quite hardy and ideal in warm and even cooler but sheltered positions around New Zealand, provide younger plants with plenty of water. Test the first inch or so of the soil before watering.

Outside, mulch around the base to help retain moisture in Summer. Compost well and a slow release fertilizer is best. The soil should be light and relatively free draining and if outdoors, a good spray with the hose will deter insects (webs) and help clean the leaves.

Trim away older leaves as they tend to droop over time and develop even more ‘splits’ than normal. The new leaves will emerge from the centre from spear-like structures that add to the overall beauty. If transplanting to a bigger pot, ensure a fresh, nutrient-rich mix is used, water well and rotate the pot periodically to keep the growth balanced.

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Birds of Paradise at The Green Grower.

Check online to see what we have in stock or visit our bright plant shop in Wainui near Silverdale, as your new plant destination! We often have in stock: Strelitzia nicolai, Strelitzia reginae, Strelitzia juncea (narrow-leaved) Strelitzia alba (the rarest, white, best as a houseplant) and the beautiful yellow-gold Strelitzia ‘Mandela’s Gold.

What does the flower of the Bird of Paradise symbolize?

Joy, love, paradise, freedom, anticipation, thoughtfulness and faithfulness. It’s also the official flower of the 9th wedding anniversary!

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