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How To Grow A Bird Of Paradise Plant Indoors: Bird Of Paradise (Strelitzia) Care

The bird of paradise ( Strelitzia ) is a beautiful exotic tropical plant with distinct flowers and leaves like a banana tree. The flowers of...

The bird of paradise ( Strelitzia ) is a beautiful exotic tropical plant with distinct flowers and leaves like a banana tree. The flowers of birds of paradise look like the head of a crane or birds of the Paradisaeidae family - commonly called "birds of paradise". Although it is a tropical flowering plant, birds of paradise can grow in pots indoors. The flowers of the birds of paradise can be orange, yellow or white with touches of blue.

How To Grow A Bird Of Paradise Plant Indoors

How to take care of birds of paradise plants ( Strelitzia )

Strelitzia plants need bright light and direct sunlight when grown indoors or outdoors. The soil should be rich, well drained, moist - not waterlogged - and watered regularly. Maintain high moisture levels, temperatures above 60° F (15° C) and fertilize monthly during the growing season.

There are five species of birds of paradise. These flowering plants are native to South Africa, where they are also called crane flowers. Some species of Strelitzia can grow up to 10 m high. However, varieties that grow well indoors are shorter, reaching six or seven feet (1.8 to 2.1 m). The long, straight stems have large banana-like leaves that measure between 3.5" and 78" (30 - 200 cm) long.

Bird of paradise flower

Flowers on bird of paradise plants are the unique feature. Although the large foliage is eye-catching, it is the white, yellow or orange crane-like flowers that attract attention. The spiky colored petals stand up like the plumage of a crane and the modified blue or black leaf resembles the bird's beak.

Birds of paradise flowers usually bloom in late winter and early spring.

 If you take good care of the plants, you can even get white or orange bird of paradise flowers when you grow them indoors. The essential care requirement for Strelitzia plants to flower is abundant sunshine. To successfully grow a bird of paradise indoors in containers, you must imitate its natural growing conditions: bright light, warmth and humidity.

Types of Strelitzia (Bird of Paradise)

Of the five species of Strelitzia , two are popular houseplants. These are Strelitzia reginae and Strelitzia nicolai . Here are more descriptions of these unusual looking flowering plants.

  1. White Bird of Paradise ( Strelitzia alba ) - This tropical flowering plant has large foliage and white flowers.
  2. Crane Lily ( Strelitzia reginae ) - the most elegant of the Strelitzia varieties - hence the name regal . Crane lily is a popular house plant and has bright orange and blue flowers.
  3. Mountain Strelitzia ( Strelitzia caudata ) - Also called "wild banana", grows outdoors and has white, thorny flowers.
  4. White Bird of Paradise ( Strelitzia nicolai ) - An amazing example of a large indoor plant with white and blue flowers.
  5. African Desert Banana ( Strelitzia juncea ) - Native to South Africa, this drought resistant plant has orange flowers that are typical of bird of paradise plants.

How to take care of Bird of Paradise indoors

Whether you have a crane lily ( Strelitzia reginae ) or a white bird of paradise ( Strelitzia nicolai ) growing inside, the care is the same.

The three most critical needs for bird of paradise plants to thrive are:
  • Bright light.
  • Warm temperatures.
  • High humidity.
Read on to find out how to take care of this large tropical plant that has banana-like leaves and fresh yellow, orange or white flowers.

Lighting requirements for houseplants Strelitzia

Birds of paradise plants need at least six hours of bright light and direct sunlight daily to flourish. The pot must be in a sunny spot. A room facing east or west is an ideal place for your Strelitzia to bloom and flourish. Indirect sunlight in the middle of the day is best.

A lack of sunlight is a common reason why bird of paradise plants do not bloom. Although the plants grow in low light or shade conditions, they need lots of bright light most of the day to get their best. The only thing to watch out for is that direct sunlight all day can burn the young leaves.

If you decide to move your bird of paradise plant outside during the summer to a patio, balcony or deck, follow the same care instructions for light. Choose a place with bright light throughout the day with direct sunlight in the morning and late afternoon. The sun shining between 12 noon and 2 p.m. is perfect.

Bird of Paradise Indoor Care: Watering

Birds of paradise need regular watering to keep the soil moist. Crane flowering plants grow best when the soil is never left soaking wet or waterlogged. Water Strelitzias when the first inch (2.5 cm) of soil is dry. Moisturize the plant by running water through the potting soil until it runs off at the bottom.

Rather than following a set watering schedule, use the condition of the soil as a gauge. If the soil is wet, gently press down on it and stop watering. Otherwise, over-watering can cause root rot. However, the soil should not be left completely dry.

Sign of watering problems with a bird of paradise plant:

  • Too much water - The leaves will turn brown and crispy, and the beautiful plant could eventually die.
  • Too little water - Withered and drooping leaves that begin to yellow indicate that your Strelitzia is thirsty.
Another thing to remember when caring for crane lilies (Strelitzia reginae) or white birds of paradise (Strelitzia nicolai) is that climate affects the frequency of watering. In spring and summer, when growth is vigorous, water more frequently. In autumn and winter, you should water the potted plant less often.

Moisture Requirements for Bird of Paradise

All species of Strelitzia plants need high humidity to thrive - above-average ambient air humidity. Although they grow in average household humidity, increasing humidity levels will bring out the best in the plant. The more you can replicate its original environment with light, heat and humidity, the more likely you are to make bird of paradise plants bloom.

What are the best ways to increase humidity to keep your crane lilies happy? Here are three ways to care for tropical and exotic houseplants:

  • Misting - Keep a spray bottle close to your plants. Spray a fine mist every other day on the leaves. Use distilled water as this will leave no residue on the shiny green banana-shaped leaves.
  • Moisture Tray - If you don't want to spray your "banana tree" regularly, place it on a pebble tray. To create a moistening dish, place a 1-inch (2.5 cm) layer of pebbles in a tray. Pour enough water to fill the dish half full. Place the bird of paradise flowerpot on the pebbles.
  • Humidifier - Another way to humidify tropical houseplants is to use a humidifier. The humidifier will keep the air moist enough for Strelitzia plants to thrive.
In addition to humidifying your tropical indoor plants, you need to make sure there is plenty of air circulation. Stagnant air is not suitable for most indoor plants - and birds of paradise are no exception. During the summer, open a window or have a swinging fan nearby to keep the air circulating.

Indoor Strelitzia Plant Temperature

Birds of paradise need warm temperatures indoors and outdoors to thrive. The ideal temperature range is between 65 ° F and 80 ° F (18 ° C - 26 ° C). Although the flowers of the crane can be robust up to 60 ° F (15 ° C), anything below will damage the plant. Birds of paradise are not cold resistant plants and grow in USDA zones 10-12.

If you live in zone 9 and below, you can grow crane lilies outside in the summer. Be sure to bring them indoors when the temperature drops below 15°C (60°F) at night. They do not survive frost well and too much cold can kill plants.

If you grow birds of paradise in indoor pots, try to avoid extremes in temperature. For example, in winter, keep plant containers away from direct heat sources - hot ovens or radiators. In summer, keep the plant pot away from cold drafts - the airflow from the air conditioning system or open windows or doors. 

The best soil for bird of paradise flowers in pots

How To Grow A Bird Of Paradise Plant Indoors: Bird Of Paradise (Strelitzia) Care
A blue and white Strelitzia or an orange-yellow bird of paradise needs a floor that retains moisture without getting soggy. A fertile, well-drained soil that contains organic matter will help your plants thrive. Soil that contains sand or perlite will also help drainage.

However, birds of paradise are not too picky about soil. The most critical care factor is that they do not "stand" in wet, damp soil. It's easy to tell if the soil is too compacted - pour water through the topsoil and if it's standing on it, you'll need to aerate the soil better.

Because crane lilies are large flowering houseplants, they need a sturdy container to support them. The type of pot you choose for your S. reginae and S. nicolai plants can also affect moisture levels. Here's how:

  • Plastic pots - These containers retain moisture, which means you need to water the Strelitzia plant less often. However, they may not be strong enough for very tall plants.
  • Clay pots - Clay pots are stronger and sturdier than plastic pots and can provide excellent support. However, they are porous and moisture evaporates more quickly from the potting medium.
  • Pot size: Choose a pot according to the size of the plant. It will be difficult to control moisture levels if the pot is too large. If the pot is too small, it will quickly become tied to the roots and water will not drain well.

How to take care of an indoor bird of paradise: fertilization

Birds of paradise are vigorous growers and require regular feeding during the growing season. Use an all-purpose houseplant fertilizer diluted at half concentration. Feed once a month to help your plant grow and bloom. You can also use a slow-release organic houseplant fertilizer to feed your plant from spring to fall.

When it comes to feeding birds of paradise that grow in pots, too much fertilizer is not good for them. Mineral salts tend to build up in the containers, which can eventually lead to a fertilizer burn. To avoid over-fertilization or salt build-up, rinse or leech the potting soil about every three months.

To rinse the potting soil, take your crane lily in its pot for the bath. Run the water slowly through the soil for two to three minutes. Wait until all the water is completely drained. Put your bird of paradise plant back in its favorite sunny spot.

Propagation of the Bird of Paradise

You can propagate a bird of paradise plant by separating the rhizome - it's the thick root that looks like ginger root. Divide the rhizome so that the new plant has at least one healthy stem and three or four leaves. When propagating, keep in mind that Strelitzia plants prefer to grow in clumps - bushy plants produce the most orange or white flowers.

Another method of propagation is by seed. You may be able to collect seeds from the flowers of birds of paradise. However, seed propagation is not the most effective method. It can take up to eight weeks for newly planted Strelitzia seeds to germinate and four to seven years for the plants to flower.

Transplant Bird of Paradise

The repotting of a bird of paradise helps the plant to grow well and to bloom regularly. These plants grow very quickly and you will have to transfer the Strelitzias in a new larger pot in spring. When you transfer birds of paradise to a new container, you can also check for root damage or rot. Cut off dead or decaying roots if necessary.
  • Choose a 10 inch (25 cm) pot for a bird of paradise plant three to four feet (0.9 - 1.2 m) high.
  • Pot in a 35 cm (10") container when your Strelitzia plant is between five and six feet (1.5 and 1.8 m) tall.
Birds of paradise like to be somewhat tied to the roots. When you take good care of it and don't disturb a mature plant too much by re-potting, it will reward you with exotic white, yellow or orange flowers.

Pruning bird of paradise

Pruning bird of paradise plants can help them grow well and ensure that they bloom indoors and outdoors. The best time to prune foliage and dead leaves is in late winter or early spring, after the plants have finished flowering. Remove only those stems of Bird of Paradise Strelitzia that are brown or dead.

You can kill a bird of paradise when the colored "feathers" and blue beak-like leaves turn brown. Cut the stem with the dead flower as close to the ground as possible.

If you have dead leaves growing on the ground, remove them gently or cut them off near the base with clean pruning shears.

The good news about growing Strelitzia plants inside birds of paradise is that you rarely have to prune them.

Is Bird of Paradise toxic?

All plants of the genus Strelitzia - birds of paradise and crane lilies - are poisonous. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), birds of paradise are toxic to cats, dogs and horses. Ingesting parts of the plant can cause irritation, vomiting or drowsiness. 

Nuisance birds of paradise and diseases

Pests rarely affect Strelitzia plants. But if they do, the culprits are usually mites, scales or aphids. The best natural insecticide solution is to use an organic neem oil treatment and wipe the leaves. Wiping the leaves with neem oil not only eliminates annoying insects, but also makes the leaves even shinier.

A common infection affecting birds of paradise is fungal infection by the grey mold Botrytis cinerea . You can prevent this by not leaving the soil too wet and by making sure there is sufficient air circulation around the leaves.

Common problems with a bird of paradise indoors

When you grow Strelitzia plants indoors, the leaves can often tell you a lot about the health of the plant. Here are some common questions on how to tell if your exotic flowering plant is under stress.

Why do the leaves of my bird of paradise turn yellow?

Bright dark shiny Strelitzia leaves turning yellow may be due to watering or light problems. Under-watering your plant and dry soil can starve the plant of nutrients which results in yellow leaves.

Another reason for yellow leaves is lack of light. Try to move the plant to a brighter spot where it gets some direct sunlight every day.

Why do the leaves of birds of paradise curl up?

Curling the leaves of bird of paradise plants is a classic sign of thirst. All Strelitzia plants need regular watering to keep the soil moist. Water your plant abundantly so that the moisture reaches the roots.

Other reasons for leaf curling include:

  • Being in cold temperatures.
  • Poor soil quality.
  • Infestation of plant sucking insects such as trips, mites or scales.
  • The bird of paradise is tied to the roots and must be transferred to a larger pot.

Why do the leaves of my Strelitzia plant turn brown and crispy?

Discolored leaves that are brown and with crunchy spots could be due to a lack of moisture or an accumulation of mineral salts. Both of these problems can be solved by rinsing the soil.

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