The unusually beautiful shape and brilliant colors of Birds of Paradise have made these flowers not just a designer's favorite, but also a popular symbol of paradise. The plant bears a unique flower that resembles a brightly coloured bird in flight (or a birds beak and head plumage) giving it the common name, Bird of Paradise. The fascinating blooms are sold as cut flowers.
Strelitzia reginae is a bold structural plant, indigenous to South Africa where it grows wild in the Eastern Cape. The grey-green banana-like leaves are evergreen and the flowers stand above the foliage at the tips of long stalks. Mature plants are very floriferous with flowers in autumn, winter and spring.
Strelitzia are not difficult to grow from seed – they just take time but once they flower, you will have to agree, they are well worth the wait!
Sow indoors at any time of year.
Before sowing, remove the bright orange tuft of hairs attached to the seed (aril of each seed), the hard seeds can be scarified (nicked or scratched) to decrease germinate. To scarify, soak the seeds in lukewarm water for several hours, and then nick them with a knife or small file. Scarified seeds will germinate in two to three months.
Another way to decrease germination time is to put un-scarified seeds in a plastic bag and place them in a refrigerator at 4°C (40°F) for two weeks. Then scarify and sow them.
Sow in seed trays filled with a well-drained soil medium at a depth of 1.25cm (½”)
Keep at a constant temperature of 25°C (77°F) low temperatures retard germination. Germination takes four to eight weeks.
The soil mix must be kept consistently damp until the seeds germinate. To ensure a moist, humid environment, cover the seed container with a sheet of glass or clear plastic and place it in indirect light.
Seedlings should be a good size before transplanted (two to three leaves) into a well drained medium. Young strelitzia plants must be grown in shade, for the leaves tend to burn in direct sunlight. Regular repotting allows the young plant to develop rapidly. Restricting the root development retards growth.
Strelitzia nicolai is an easy plant to grow in the garden. Plants do well in full sun to semi-shade, love a rich loamy soil and plenty of water throughout the year. They respond well to regular feeding with a slow release fertilizer and compost. They are very tolerant plants and will thrive in most soils and can survive with very little water once established. They are also wind resistant and grow well in coastal gardens.
Strelitzias are sensitive to cold and in areas with frosts would need a sheltered position. In cold climates it is better to grow them in pots that could be moved indoors when frosts are expected. As soon as the frosts finish for the winter, you may place the plant outside in a sheltered south facing garden. They tend to do well when temperatures do not drop below 10°C (50°F) and do very well in a greenhouse/conservatory.
Tips for growing strelitzia in a temperate climate:
Overwintering - One of the main points with exotic plants is to avoid frost. Keep in a warm, well lit area. Stop feeding the plants to allow them to become dormant. Do not overwater in the dormant season/winter. Wet soil is cold soil.
Springtime: - Feed the plant well once growth starts again. Feed regularly throughout the growing season but do not over-feed otherwise your plants will just grow foliage and no flowers.
From seed, plants given ideal conditions will flower within 3 years. To get a mature flowering plant from seed takes about three to five years.
They usually start to come into flower at Christmas time and sometimes later in the summer months. The flower spikes take a few months to grow full size, but then open gradually, taking a few weeks, to a few months to open up to reveal their famous flowers
The bird of paradise plant should be watered thoroughly but then allowed to dry out almost completely before re-watering. They don’t like to be over-watered, and in the rest period (winter) they should only be watered when the soil is almost completely bone dry. When growing begins in the Spring they should be given phostrogen feed once every two weeks, to encourage new growth.
During the summer months, Strelitzia require as much sunlight and ventilation as possible. Feed once a week with a phostrogen feed to help encourage new leaves and flower spikes.
As soon as the roots start to stretch the pot wider, it would then be wise to pot the plant up into the next size pot. They tend to do very well in loam-based compost with either grit or bark chippings to aid drainage. The optimum pH is 6.5.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 10 Seeds Family Strelitziaceae Genus Strelitzia Species reginae Common Name Orange Bird of Paradise Other Common Names Crane flower, Geel Piesang Hardiness Tender Perennial Flowers Orange with Blue, 30cm (12in) long blooms Natural Flower Time September thru to May Foliage Evergreen, Grey-green banana-like leaves Height to 150cm (5ft) in 5 years Spread 100cm (40in) Position Full sun to partial shade Soil Fertile, well drained Time to Sow Sow indoors at any time of year. Germination Keep at a constant temperature of 25°C (77°F)