Bird of Paradise – Strelitzia reginae

Bird of Paradise is a most attractive specimen plant with unusual bird-like flowers that last for weeks on the plant as well as in a vase. It takes its botanical name from the title of the wife of George III, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.

This plant grows well indoors in a sunny and bright position. In summer keep it outdoors in a warm place, and overwinter it indoors in a cool place where the temperature is around 10°C (50°F). It can also be kept all year round in a greenhouse.

The plant is suitable for growing in a container. It blooms best when the roots are crowded so pot on only if necessary. Bird of Paradise has large, long-stalked leaves that are glossy and resemble oar blades. These grow into a fan shape from a sheath at the base of the plant.Bird of Paradise - Strelitzia reginae

Flowers and flowering

The plant’s common name is derived from its spectacular flowers which resemble the head of an exotic tropical bird. The flowers are of orange, yellow and royal blue; they have no scent. Bird of Paradise flowers for the first time when it is about 6 years old. After that it flowers annually in spring and summer.

Outdoors where it grows naturally in South Africa it can grow to about 1.2– 1.5m (4-5ft), but in containers it is restricted to 90cm (3ft). Each leaf blade is about 25-45cm (10– 18in) long. It is a plant that needs space to show off its lovely colour and shape to best advantage.

A Display ideas Bird of Paradise looks handsome grown in a substantial terracotta pot or large wooden patio tub.

It can also make a very dramatic feature on its own in a sunroom. The flowers can be cut and used in floral arrangements.

Through The Year


This plant can be placed outdoors when the temperature is around 15-21°C (60– 70°F). Choose a position in full sun or where the plant will get very bright light. Water regularly and generously, keeping the potting mixture moist at all times. Add a liquid fertilizer once a week.

October—November When temperatures fall in autumn, bring the plant indoors and keep it in a cool place with temperatures around 10-13°C (50-50°F) . As days shorten decrease the amount and frequency of watering.


Stop feeding. Water moderately, allowing’ potting mixture to dry out between waterings.


Begin to water more frequently and generously and start applying a liquid fertilizer every second week. Top-dress mature plants.



When a Bird of Paradise is totally overcrowded in its pot, divide it to make several plants.

1 Divide in spring by separating clumps with 2-3 leaves and some roots.

2 Put the sections into 13cm (5in) pots in a soil-based mixture and keep them in a warm position with bright but filtered light.

3 Water sparingly and do not feed for 6 weeks.

Pests And Diseases

Root rot can spread up to the crown of the plant. It is caused by over watering in winter.

Treatment: If you see signs of rot just above the surface of the potting mixture, stop watering completely for a while and let the mixture dry out.

Check for scale insects on mid-rib or underside of leaves.

Treatment: Wipe off the scale insects with a cotton swab dipped in diluted methylated spirits.


This plant needs a little extra care in winter, but it’s not difficult to grow. Remove faded leaves at the base of the plant.

  • Potting: Repot young plants in spring using a soil-based potting mixture. Do not repot mature specimens as this would affect their flowering. Top-dress annually instead.
  • Water generously and frequently in summer, keeping the potting mixture moist at all times. In winter, water moderately, allowing the mixture to dry out between waterings.
  • Feeding: Feed mature plants every other week in spring and once a week in summer. Stop feeding in winter.


  • Light: These plants do best in the brightest position you can find for them.
  • Temperature: In summer they can go outdoors if temperatures are above 15-21°C (60-70°F). In winter they need to be cool at about 10-13°C (50-55°F).

Buying Tips

  • This plant may be difficult to find. Go to larger garden centres or specialist nurseries.
  • Choose a plant that has a well-developed base with no signs of rot. Leaves should be healthy and undamaged. Look for a plant with a flower in bud.
  • Your Bird of Paradise will last for many years, usually flowering annually after 6 years.

Exotic and unusual flowers make this tropical plant an attractive candidate for a sunny position, where it can bloom over several weeks in summer.

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