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Find paradise with a Strelitzia Reginae plant

Plant ABC

Words by Kelsey Lee Jones

Illustrations by Elena Boils

The Strelitzia, also known as the Bird of Paradise, is one of the more spectacular and brightly coloured plants that can be grown at home. It's a close relative of the banana plant that gets its name from its splayed, pointed flowers that resemble a bird in flight. For years, it was considered a collectors plant because it was so difficult to find a good specimen. It’s a special one that requires good care, so here are our best tips.

Latin name: Strelitzia reginaea

Nickname: Also known as Crane flowers

Family: Strelitziaceae

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.

Now that your Bird of Paradise is happy. Here are some tips for the Elephant Ear plant.