Find paradise with a Strelitzia Reginae plant
Words by Kelsey Lee Jones
Illustrations by Elena Boils
Latin name: Strelitzia reginaea
Nickname: Also known as Crane flowers
Native to: Subtropical areas of South Africa
Spotted in: Hawaii in the 1940s, where artist Georgia O’Keeffe painted White Bird of Paradise
Life cycle: Perennial
Soil: A quality peat-based potting soil
Special feature: Its jazzy flowering blooms
Five main varieties
Though only Strelitzia Reginae and Strelitzia Nicolai are treated as houseplants. Even indoors, the Bird of Paradise can easily reach 6-7 ft. in height. They have no stem and the leaves – sometimes 3ft or more in length – will emerge from the centre. After about 4 or 5 years, your plant will occasionally (if you’re lucky) produce an exotic flower. Flower production is much more frequent when used as an outdoor plant, so you could also try it on your balcony.
Bird of Paradise needs a steady temperature
An easy way to decide whether to grow inside or outside is to think about the temperature. The Bird of Paradise requires a temperature between 10-20 degrees Celsius. If the temperature dips below freezing or gets very hot where you live, it will die if planted outside. Luckily, it does grow very well in a pot indoors.
Keep it in the brightest room in your house
can even be put in direct sunlight if you do it gradually and allow the leaves to adapt. You may also have to move the Bird of Paradise Plant to sit in different places as the season changes. When the temperature outside is right, you also have the choice to place the plant in a sunny spot outdoors (just make sure to bring it in when it gets too hot or cold!).
Pamper your plant
Aim to water the plant with about an inch of water per week. As the plant is tropical, it’s also a big fan of being sprayed, so give those beautiful leaves some mist each day. Those large leaves also have the tendency to collect some dust. You can wipe them gently with a soft cloth, but remember the plant has a natural flat, matte finish – don’t try to scrub that off!
Seeds like no other
Propagation? A very mature Bird of Paradise will produce offsets which can be cut free and potted up, although this can be a tricky job. It’s much more convenient (and enjoyable) to plant new Bird of Paradise seeds, plus they are a wonder to look at with their tufts of orange hair. Before planting, pull off this hair, then pot up in soil and place in a warm area.