How to Grow and Care for Strelitzia Plant (Bird of Paradise)

The strelitzia plant (bird of paradise) is a large, bold, tropical household favourite that can grow over 6 feet tall, even indoors. While undoubtedly beautiful with their mesmerizing blooms that resemble majestic birds, they need to be meticulously cared for to revel in their colours. Here’s how you can perfect your bird of paradise plant care routine to watch them flourish. 

Bird of Paradise Plant Care (Strelitzia) 

Light

Canadians can feel the difference that the summer sun brings. Whether you call it seasonal depression, the winter blues, or something different altogether, the collective answer is that we thrive in sunlight. The same goes for these beautiful plants. But just like us, too much time in direct harsh light can burn. For the strelitzia plant, it can even leave permanent marks. 

For the best bird of paradise plant care, you’ll want to find a spot near the window that gets direct sunlight in the morning or evening. This will give it the energy it needs to grow quickly. If it’s too dark, your plant may survive, but it will grow slower and won’t be likely to get the beautiful flowers that make the plant so captivating. Just remember to keep it away from that hot afternoon sun. 

If you want to see these gorgeous plants in bloom, it’s recommended that it receives 4-6 hours of sunlight per day in the warmer months.

Water

Watering your strelitzia is a delicate dance requiring meticulous attention to ensure it has obtained the goldilocks effect; it is not soaked, but not bone-dry either. You’ll want the top few inches of soil to dry out before watering it, but the rest of the pot to stay moist. In the summer, you’ll have to water more frequently, possibly daily, if left outdoors, whereas the winter will only require once every 2 or 3 weeks, or once a week, for the indoor summer houseplant.  If you want to really be sure, you can invest in a moisture meter. 

Signs you’ve overwatered

Brown edges 

Yes, there is a big difference between wet and moist. With your bird of paradise plant, you want to ensure you’re not leaving it sopping wet. It’s a telltale sign you’ve overwatered if the leaf edges become brown. Before re-watering your plant, wait until the soil is fully dry. Now is an excellent time to let some extra oxygen into the roots of your plant to aid in its recovery. 

Yellow leaves 

If the leaves begin to yellow, this is a sign your plant is thirsty! All you need to do is water your plant and make sure the soil is always moist. Your plant will flourish once again, but any leaves that have turned yellow in the process won’t revert to their bright green state.

Temperature and humidity

These plants thrive in tropical climates, but they also like to hibernate during the winter. This can make choosing the ideal temperature tricky. Average home temperatures above 70 degrees Fahrenheit work well for this sun-loving houseplant in the summertime. It prefers 50-55 degrees in the winter, which isn’t ideal for many homeowners. Humidity is beneficial to the plant, and it will naturally be higher in rooms with lower temperatures. You can also get a humidifier or pebble tray with water if you can’t do this easily. If you must keep the plant at average household temperatures all year, mist it at least once a day to help reduce the drying effects of home heating and air conditioning.

Soil

The best bird of paradise plant care is to have well-draining soil. The plant’s stems retain moisture, and they don’t enjoy their roots sitting in water. You’ll want to ensure the water flows freely. While many household soils will work great, the best ingredients it should include are potting soil, perlite, and peat moss. This will support its growth, help it drain, and provide some structure. 

Fertilizer 

Your strelitzia plant has the potential to grow quickly, which requires a lot of energy. While a lot of this energy comes from the sunlight, it needs a boost from fertilizer to stay healthy. You can use a liquid fertilizer, diluted with water, weekly or bi-weekly (depending on how fast the growth is) during the spring and summer months. 

In the winter, the plant is considered dormant. This means it won’t be absorbing fertilizer, so you can skip this step during the fall and winter months. Overfeeding it won’t make it a powerhouse; instead, the acidity will make the soil unsuitable for growth.

Propagation

Are you looking to grow this dazzling houseplant on your own? There are two ways you can do this – by starting from seeds or through the division method. If you start from a seed, you’ll notice their unique look. They are large and have a tuff of orange hair. All you need to do is pull the hair off, pot it up in the soil, and put it in a warm, humid place. Easy right? 

Well, if you’re okay with waiting, it may be the right choice for you. Just be prepared to really wait – it can take at least 3 and up to 7 years to bloom. Instead, you may want to find a mature plant to help begin the process. They will start to produce smaller plants at their base, often referred to as pups. They can be separated from their parent and pot up in a container only an inch larger than its root ball on all sides. From here, you’ll want to keep it in indirect light. Keep in mind that you’ll still be waiting 2-3 years for that beautiful bloom. If you want to enjoy these flowers right away, it’s recommended that you purchase a mature plant.

The strelitzia plant (bird of paradise) entices many gardeners and household plant enthusiasts. They require patience, care, and someone willing to take the time to learn about their ideal environment. But they aren’t necessarily tricky to look after once you understand them. Want to start with your best foot forward? Our staff can help answer your questions and give insider tips. Come by and visit any one of our three locations! 

Have you ever cared for a strelitzia plant (bird of paradise)? What have you learned that you’d like to share with other readers? Share your experience with our fellow plant enthusiasts below. 

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