A magnificent evergreen ornamental plant, the Strelitzia is also called Bird of Paradise because its flower strangely evokes the head of a beautiful, very colorful bird. There are different varieties of Strelitzia, the most marketed by our florists or by garden centers being Queen Strelitzia. Native to Africa, the Bird of Paradise is chilly. It is grown in the ground only in our Mediterranean regions and in certain areas of Brittany. Everywhere else, the Strelitzia is planted in pots in order to spend a large part of the year indoors. Let’s take stock of its planting, its needs and its spectacular flowering.
Plant a Strelitzia or Bird of Paradise
It is in the spring that a Strelitzia is planted in the garden, provided of course that it is not in flower. At this time of the year, the earth has already been well warmed by the sun and in the mildest climates, there is no longer a risk of freezing.
To install in Bird of Paradise in the groundsimply :
- Dig a hole wide and deep enough.
- Place a layer of gravel at the bottom to ensure good drainage, then a layer of topsoil mixed with a shovelful of sable and enriched with organic fertilizer.
- Place the plant in the center of the hole.
- Fill with the rest of the earth/sand/compost mixture.
- Pack around the foot.
- Water moderately.
If we have to plant a Strelitzia in a pot in order to keep it inside, you must:
- Choose a bac big enough fully drilled covered with a drainage layer like clay balls for example.
- Place in the bin potting soil mixed with compost.
- Install the plant in the center of the container.
- Fill the bin with the remaining potting soil/compost.
- Water without drowning.
Then place the potted Bird of Paradise in a very bright room, but it is necessary to avoid the proximity of a bay window so that the direct sun does not burn its foliage. So that the plant can benefit from full sun 3 to 4 hours a day – which is necessary for it to flower – it may be useful to protect it from extreme heat with a curtain. You have to think about take it out in the summer because a short stay in the sun is beneficial to him.
Growing a Bird of Paradise
The Strelitzia loves sunny exposures to lightly shaded, well sheltered from cold windsas well as compost-rich soils. Any good garden soil can suit it provided it is neutral, well-drained and fertile.
In areas with a mild climate, the Bird of Paradise is planted outdoors. It is prudent to mulch usually his foot and to provide a winter sail if frosts are expected. Cultivated in the ground, whether isolated or in clumps, this plant can reach 2 to 3 m in height and in the wild, certain species measure nearly 10 m in height. In a harsh climate, Strelitzia grown indoors in a large pot usually does not exceed 1.50 m in height.
It is possible to multiplier a Strelitzia quite easily in the spring, by transplanting its shoots or by dividing the clump. The most patient can try sowing Strelitzia seeds, but they will not see their plants bloom for 3 to 4 years in the best case, and up to 8 to 10 years sometimes. Strelitzia sowing is done in a heated mini greenhouse.
Caring for a Bird of Paradise
Strelitzia is an easy-care plant.
The Bird of Paradise must be watered regularly but not excessively, so that the soil stays moist without being soggy. Care must be taken that the earth does not dry out beyond 3 cm and water is never allowed to stagnate in the saucer for a subject in a tank. If it is grown in the ground, winter rains can suffice as long as it has been in place for at least two years.
It is essential to bring your Strelitzia home or on the veranda as soon as the outside temperature is below 10°C. It is therefore necessary to be far-sighted so that it does not suffer the first sometimes severe frosts. You can never be wary enough of the first white frosts that can damage a Bird of Paradise. This is why it is more than recommended to grow a Strelitzia in a container unless you are on the coast of Brittany or in the South, in areas that are particularly well sheltered from the cold.
And fertilizer supply to dilute in irrigation water is useful once a month, only from March to September.
Strelitzia is repotted in spring. After a few years, when the plant is more difficult to handle, we can settle for a surfacing once a year. This consists of eliminating part of the devitalized soil in order to replace it with a new nutritious mixture of potting soil and compost.
It is not necessary to prune a Bird of Paradise. We just cut the faded flowers and remove the dry leaves.
Pests and diseases
The scale insects are the only pests that can settle on the Strelitzia. It’s necessary dislodge them manually using a cotton swab after having soaked the wadded part in rubbing alcohol, a tedious but necessary task. You can also pass a cotton soaked in a decoction of garlic to eliminate mealybugs. You might as well go about it at the first signs because if these parasites abound, it becomes difficult to fight and the plant ends up losing its leaves.
It is necessary to avoid too dry ambient air which favors the attacks of scale insects. Regular spraying of the leaves is necessary, even a shower if the plant is not too bulky, especially in winter for a Strelitzia located inside the house, especially if it is overheated.
About the rot, it is especially to be feared in the event of excessive watering. The leaves curl up and atrophy.
Flowering of Strelitzia
Each flower of a Bird of Paradise is a marvel. Colors vary by variety : orange and blue with regard to the S. junceacompletely white flowers for the S. alba or S. Augustreddish-brown spathe, purple-blue corolla and white flowers for the S. nicolaiwhile the corolla of St. Queen is deep blue and its inflorescences bright orange, as is also the case with the dwarf form (Stelitzia queen ‘Humble’).
The Bird of Paradise can flower from May until the end of September, or even from November to March, or even twice a year. It’s all about the weather. But for this, he must be at least 4 years old. Under good growing conditions, each flower can last for several months.