If you are fortunate to be the proud owner of an orange/red Bird of Paradise flower (Strelitzia Reginae), you may wonder how often they bloom and what you can do to encourage them to bloom.
The short answer is provide it with plenty of sunlight (three to six hours or more), water regularly (but do not drown it), fertilize every three months and keep the plant in its original nursery pot.
If you live in a cooler climate you will want to avoid transplanting as it prefers to be root bound. Finally, bringing it out in cool months (not below 40-45 degrees Fahrenheit) can encourage blooming.
Now, let’s go into these tips in greater detail so you can maximize your chances of producing the trademark bird like blooms that will make your yard the envy of the neighborhood 😎
What are the Different Species of Bird of Paradise Plants?
There are five different species in the genus is known as Strelitzia. The five are Strelitzia reginae, nicolai, caudata, alba and juncea and are native to South Africa.
The preferred growing zone is 9 or higher.
The two most common are Strelitzia reginae (orange/red bird of paradise) and nicolai (white bird of paradise). For the purposes of this article, we will be focusing on the orange colored variety.
The flower gets its name as it resembles a bird like a crane. It can grow to six feet high or more. Here is a photo I took of one while on vacation in Kauai, Hawaii:
How Much Sunlight Does a Bird of Paradise Plant Need?
To encourage blooming, give it as much sun as you can – preferably 6 or so hours a day. Keep in mind the more it is in the sun, the more you will need to make sure they get enough water. You will want to keep the soil evenly damp – not soggy or soaking as this could cause rotting and kill the plants. Their need for water is similar to a banana tree.
What Soil Does Strelitzia Prefer?
Use a well draining, fertile soil like a sandy loam mix. The soil should allow for an overall evenly damp or moist environment for the roots.
Should I Transplant it From a Pot?
If you live in a zone of 9 or higher, in a warm, tropical climate it is ok to transplant your bird of paradise. For cooler climates you should keep it in its original “nursery” pot as they enjoy being root bound.
If you want it to bloom faster, keep in mind that transplanting could delay the process. One solution is to simply keep it in its original pot and then set it in a more decorative one. But if you are a guy, you may not care about what a pot looks like. Just kidding. 😄
Overall it depends on how much of a hurry you are in to get your plant to bloom.
It is recommended to fertilize the bird of paradise every three months using organic fertilizers including manure, blood meal, sewage or Nutricote/Osmocote.
There are multiple reports that exposing your plant to cooler temperatures in early spring can dramatically increase chances of blooming. Just make sure it isn’t too cool. Recommendations are to keep an eye on the weather and give it the cool treatment in temperatures of 45 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Along the same lines, “neglecting” your plant may be beneficial. What I mean by this is to not become a helicopter parent and baby it to death. Let it learn to survive on its own a little bit now and then.
How Long Before a Bird of Paradise Blooms?
Be patient as it may take 5 to 8 years before it blooms. Blooming will not occur until the plant has matured and has formed a clump. There is a theory that Strelitzia reginae is most encouraged in crowded situations. The plant may detect this and stimulate blooming as a survival mechanism. This is likely why leaving it in original container is a good idea.
There are many things you can do to encourage your Bird of Paradise plant to bloom and produce flowers.
Here is a quick recap:
1 – Provide plenty of sunlight, but make sure the soil does not become dry. More sun will require more watering – just don’t overdo it.
2 – Use a well draining soil such as a sandy mix and use fertilizer every 3 months.
3 – Keep your plant in its original container when you bought it. You can then put this inside a more decorative pot if desired. Transplanting can significantly delay blooming.
4 – Consider exposing it to cool weather in temperatures no lower than 45 degrees Fahrenheit such as in early spring. Many gardeners swear by this.
5 – Be patient. It can take several years before the first flowers appear. When they do they will show up as spikes between leaves. If you see spikes, you are in luck and will soon have flowers!
Good luck! If you have any other suggestions which I have left out and may be helpful to others, please feel free to contact me and I’ll add them to this article on the next update.