Growing Bird of Paradise in Australia

Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae) also known as Strelitzia, Bird’s Tongue Flower, Crane Flower is a herbaceous perennial. It is part of the Strelitziaceae family and is native to South Africa.

It is easy to grow, hardy, and architecturally dramatic with some of the most stunning and unusual looking flowers you will come across. If you are after a plant that give you the most amazing results even if it’s all but neglected? Then the bird of paradise is the plant for you! Once established it will happily flower away with very little attention and care.

Birds of Paradise look great planted in a tropical style gardens, poolside, grassy borders or as a feature plant.

When to plant Bird of Paradise

If you have an established bird of paradise plant or a division from friends or family, the best time to plant is in spring or early summer. Plant your Bird of paradise in a full sun location which has well-draining organic soil. Amend the soil with compost when planting to get it off to a strong start.

When planting in pots, use a well-drained potting soil and add compost to the mix to improve the soil fertility. Place pots in a full sun, warm location from spring until fall and then in a greenhouse if you have one for winter months. If you don’t have a greenhouse inside the house next to a window which receives good light is another option. Bird of paradise plants like high humidity so group houseplants together and place them on pebble trays filled with water to increase the humidity in winter.

How to plant Bird of Paradise

Growing Bird of Paradise at home in the garden is pretty straightforward.

  1. Choose a full sun to partly shaded spot with well drained soil. Enrich the soil with a quality Dynamic Lifter Soil Improver.
  2. Dig a planting hole twice as wide and to the same depth as the root-ball. Remove the plant from the pot, tease out the roots and cut away any tangled roots.
  3. Place the bird of paradise in hole and back-fill with soil, gently firming down the soil afterwards. Water in well after planting to settle the soil around the roots and keep the soil moist for several weeks while the new plant establishes
  4. Mulch with an organic mulch, such as bark chips or pea straw ensuring to keep it away from touching the base of the plant.
  5. Feed with a Dynamic Lifter Soil Improver and Plant Fertiliser every 8 weeks from spring until mid autumn.

How to grow Bird of Paradise in pots

You don’t need a large space to have your very own bird of paradise plant in Australia. Growing bird of paradise in pots is easy, fun and rewarding! In general growing bird of paradise in pots is a great idea. Below are the steps on how to how to grow bird of paradise in a pot;

  1. Choose a pot at least 40 cm – 60 cm wide (or larger, depending on the size of your bird of paradise). Position in sunny location.
  2. Fill with quality potting mix for plants.
  3. Remove the plant from the container, tease the roots and cut away any tangled roots.
  4. Place the bird of paradise in new pot and back-fill with soil, gently firming down the soil afterwards. Water in well.
  5. Help protect your plants against fungus gnats by applying a layer of Gnat Barrier to the top of the soil in the pot. You can find Gnat Barrier at your local nursery or gardening supplier.
  6. Water when the potting mix feels dry to the touch. Gently dig around in the top few centimetres of potting mix. If potting mix sticks to your finger and feels moist, watering is not required yet. If it feels dry, it’s time to re-water. A plant thermometer is a good way to keen an eye on it also.
  7. Feed the plant fortnightly during spring and summer with a liquid plant food suitable for indoor plants.

How to propagate Bird of Paradise plants

You can propagate bird of paradise plants from cuttings, simply follow these easy steps:

  1. First, gather some stem cuttings from an existing Bird of Paradise plant. Look for stems that are at least a few inches long and don’t have any flowers or buds on them.
  2. Next, cut the stem into sections that are about 6 inches long. Each section should have at least one leaf and one node (a bump on the stem where a leaf or flower bud grows).
  3. Once you have your cuttings, fill a small pot with a well-draining soil mix. Water the soil well and let it drain.
  4. Dip the end of each cutting into rooting hormone. This will help the cutting grow roots more quickly.
  5. Plant the cuttings in the soil mix, making sure that the leaf and node are above the soil line. Water the soil again, then cover the pot with a clear plastic bag to create a humid environment.
  6. Place the pot in a warm location with bright, indirect light. Water the soil as needed to keep it moist, but be careful not to over-water.
  7. After a few weeks, the cuttings should start to grow roots. Once the roots are a few inches long, you can transplant the cuttings into larger pots or into the ground in a sunny location.

It’s important to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged, as too much moisture can cause the cuttings to rot. Be patient, as it can take several weeks or even a few months for the cuttings to grow roots and become established.

How long do Bird of Paradise take to grow

Bird of Paradise plants can take several years to reach their full size and start blooming. When grown from seed, it can take up to 5 years for a Bird of Paradise plant to produce its first flowers. If you propagate Bird of Paradise plants from stem cuttings, it will still take several months for the cuttings to grow roots and become established.

Once established, Bird of Paradise plants can grow quite quickly, especially in warm, sunny conditions. In optimal conditions, a Bird of Paradise plant can grow around 90 cm per year. However, the rate of growth will depend on factors such as the plant’s age, the climate and growing conditions, and the type of soil it is grown in.

Overall, it’s important to be patient when growing Bird of Paradise plants, as they take some time to reach their full potential. With proper care, however, they can become a beautiful and long-lasting addition to your garden

How big do Bird of Paradise get

A lot of people ask how tall does bird of paradise grow? The truth is Bird of Paradise plants can grow quite large, depending on the species and the growing conditions. Some species of Bird of Paradise can reach heights of up to 3 meters or more, while others are smaller and more compact.

In general, Bird of Paradise plants have a clumping growth habit and can spread up to 1.2 meters or 1.5 meters wide. The leaves of a Bird of Paradise plant can grow up to 0.9 meters or 1.2 meters long and are dark green in color.

The size of a Bird of Paradise plant will depend on factors such as the plant’s age, the type of soil it is grown in, and the climate it is grown in. In general, Bird of Paradise plants prefer warm, sunny conditions and well-draining soil. With proper care, they can grow to be quite large.

How much sunlight do Bird of Paradise need

Bird of Paradise plants prefer bright, indirect light and can tolerate full sun, but they will do best in a location that receives morning sun and afternoon shade. Too much direct sun can cause the leaves to yellow or scorch, especially in hot, dry climates.

In general, Bird of Paradise plants prefer warm, sunny conditions and will thrive in a location that receives at least 4 to 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. However, it’s important to protect the plants from intense midday sun, especially in hot climates.

In areas with cooler climates, Bird of Paradise plants may benefit from a bit more sun to help them grow and thrive. In these cases, it’s best to place the plants in a location that receives full sun for at least part of the day.

Overall, the amount of sunlight that a Bird of Paradise plant needs will depend on the specific climate and growing conditions, as well as the age and size of the plant.

Best fertiliser for Bird of Paradise

There are a couple of options when it comes to ferteliser. At a minimum it is reccomended annual application of controlled-release fertiliser.

Feed with a diluted liquid fertiliser every two weeks during the April and November blooming season. Alternatively, if outdoors you can cover the soil with a layer of organic compost approximately 3 cm thick. Place the compost into the top layer of soil, then water thoroughly!

When do Bird of Paradise bloom

Birds of paradise flowers typical appear between April and November, however plants typically do not bloom until they are around 4 to 5 years old.

When to prune Bird of Paradise

Wondering how to prune a bird of paradise? Bird of paradise can be trimmed at any point, but serious pruning should wait until early spring. You should look to remove old plant matter, thin the leaves, and take out damaged stems.

Using a pair of sharp loppers or hand pruners take all leaves and stems back to just above the ground. Remove dead flowers to the base of the plant and clean up any dead or dying leaves and stems in or around the plant.

Are birds of paradise poisonous?

The Bird of Paradise plant is poisonous to cats and dogs if eaten, so if your pet has a habit of chewing on your plants it would be advised to avoid planting.

Companion plants for Bird of Paradise

Bird of paradise plants make a statement, so should be positioned where their vibrant flowers can be featured prominently in the garden. They also work well with plants such as, cycads, daylily, kangaroo paw, sago palm and succulents.

Bird of Paradise common problems

  • Leaves Splitting – Some people worry that the splits in the leaves of the Bird of Paradise are a sign of something wrong, but in reality split leaves in this plant are completely normal. The splits are there by design and allow wind to pass through the leaves without bending or breaking the plant. While it is less common to see splitting with birds of paradise grown indoors, it is still completely normal for this to occur.
  • Brown Edges (Under-watering) – Crispy, brown edges, can be a sign that you are under-watering your bird of paradise or the environment is too dry. This plant likes a lot of humidity — do not place this plant near the vents of an airconditioning unit which is blowing hot dry air. Ensure regular watering, and also add misting to your routine to boost humidity levels for the plant’s foliage (even if it is just a couple times a week!).
  • Yellow Leaves (Over-watering) – Yellowing wilted leaves, can be that your plant is over-watered. Check the roots to make sure there is no root rot. If the roots are damaged, you will need to re-pot your birds of paradise plant. If the roots are fine, simply let the plant dry out before watering again.
  • Curling leaves – Inward curling leaves are most often the result of under-watering. Give it a thorough watering, but ensuring that you have adequate drainage to minimise the chance of root rot.

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