Bird of Paradise

OFFICIAL NAME

Strelitzia nicolai or reginae

ALSO KNOWN AS

Crane Flower

ORIGINS & CLIMATE

South Africa | Humid Subtropical

ABOUT THE
PLANT

Instant jungle! The Bird of Paradise is named for the eye-catching flowers it can produce (with enough light and TLC), but the vibrant green and extra large leaves fan out and make a bold statement all on their own.

HOW MANY GREEN THUMBS?

easy going, bright indirect, direct, drought tolerant, great heights, clusters, floor, flowering, subtropical, XL leaves, oblong

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Bird of Paradise

The basics

Water Needs

Water thoroughly when soil is about 50% dry. Avoid overwatering. Watering may be less frequent during winter months or in less light.

Water

Preferred Light

Primarily bright, indirect light with a few hours of direct light is ideal for a happy, thriving Bird of Paradise (and if you're hoping to see flowering).

Light

Humidity Needs

While not too bothered about high humidity, your Bird of Paradise will appreciate the occasional misting, which helps remove dust from their large leaves and can keep brown edges at bay.

Humidity

Ambient Temperature

Loves the heat! Will do most of their growth in temps over 70°F. Can tolerate lower temperatures, but will not grow as much.

Temperature

Toxic or Not?

Toxins in the leaves and can lead to mild mouth and stomach irritation for humans and pets if consumed.

Toxicity

Size Potential

Indoors, this plant can grow upwards of 6-8 ft with a 2-3 ft spread (when mature and with plenty of light)!

Size

Overall Look

Generally in an upright formation of densely packed stems with large oblong leaves arching only slightly down, but can still have a large spread—this one is going to need some space! Works best on the floor or a plant stand to show off those magnificent leaves.

Format

Leaf Look

Lush dark green leaves with a long oblong, paddle-like shape and dense parallel veins that occasionally give way to a slit.

Leaf Shape

Pro Tip

The gorgeous XL large leaves on this plant can quickly accumulate dust. Dust blocks the plant from absorbing light—so be sure to keep their leaves clean and dust-free. You can do this by misting and wiping each leaf or a routine hose-down/shower.

Pro Tip

Did You Know?

The breaks and slits in your Bird of Paradise’s leaves aren’t a cause for concern. As part of nature's design, the slits allow wind to pass through the leaves without bending, breaking, or uprooting the top heavy plant.

Fun Fact

Water

|

Allow half of soil to dry out before watering again.

Water Needs

Water thoroughly when soil is about 50% dry. Avoid overwatering. Watering may be less frequent during winter months or in less light.

Light

|

Bright, indirect to direct light.

Preferred Light

Primarily bright, indirect light with a few hours of direct light is ideal for a happy, thriving Bird of Paradise (and if you're hoping to see flowering).

Humidity

|

Not too concerned by humidity levels.

Humidity Needs

While not too bothered about high humidity, your Bird of Paradise will appreciate the occasional misting, which helps remove dust from their large leaves and can keep brown edges at bay.

Temperature

|

Enjoys warmer temps.

Ambient Temperature

Loves the heat! Will do most of their growth in temps over 70°F. Can tolerate lower temperatures, but will not grow as much.

Toxicity

|

Mildly toxic to humans and pets if ingested.

Toxic or Not?

Toxins in the leaves and can lead to mild mouth and stomach irritation for humans and pets if consumed.

Size

|

A popular plant for those seeking a larger specimen.

Size Potential

Indoors, this plant can grow upwards of 6-8 ft with a 2-3 ft spread (when mature and with plenty of light)!

Format

|

Upright clusters of long stems.

Overall Look

Generally in an upright formation of densely packed stems with large oblong leaves arching only slightly down, but can still have a large spread—this one is going to need some space! Works best on the floor or a plant stand to show off those magnificent leaves.

Leaf Shape

|

Deep green with a paddle-like shape.

Leaf Look

Lush dark green leaves with a long oblong, paddle-like shape and dense parallel veins that occasionally give way to a slit.

Pro Tip

|

A good wipe down, please!

Pro Tip

The gorgeous XL large leaves on this plant can quickly accumulate dust. Dust blocks the plant from absorbing light—so be sure to keep their leaves clean and dust-free. You can do this by misting and wiping each leaf or a routine hose-down/shower.

Fun Fact

|

The ripped leaves are by design.

Did You Know?

The breaks and slits in your Bird of Paradise’s leaves aren’t a cause for concern. As part of nature's design, the slits allow wind to pass through the leaves without bending, breaking, or uprooting the top heavy plant.

Beyond The Basics

Soil & Potting

Thrives in a rich, very well-draining potting mix—you can use a good quality potting mix labeled for indoor plants or make your own mix. You can try a 1:1:1:0.5 mix of potting mix, orchid bark, perlite, and activated charcoal. Ensure the pot has the appropriate drainage and don't forget to pour out any excess water collected in the drainage tray or cachepot.

Repotting

These ambitious growers are fairly quick to fill out their pot and become rootbound. Try to repot every year in the spring, especially when tending to a younger plant. Increase the pot size by about 2 inches each time. Once mature and becoming unwieldily to maneuver—you can reduce your repotting frequency and switch to a routine of refreshing just the top few inches of soil. Keep in mind, a mature and lightly rootbound plant is more likely to flower! More on repotting here.

Feeding

Your Bird of Paradise can be a hungry plant because of their impressive growth potential and ability to flower! If you're not already planning to repot, you can fertilize during the spring and summer months. No fertilizer is necessary during the winter when plant growth naturally slows down. More on using fertilizer here.

Grooming

While no specific pruning is required for this plant, it's always good practice to regularly remove yellowed or dying leaves and any fallen plant debris. Ensure your scissors or pruners are sanitized to avoid spreading disease or pests. You'll also want to dead-head any spent flowers.

Propagation

Propagation by division is super simple with this plant. The plant's underground rhizomes will push out their own offsets. These developing plants, or pups, can be  separated into independent plants by simply making a clean cut through the rhizome (the much thicker, horizontal "root"). You can pot up this baby plant directly in soil. The best time to propagate is always in spring or summer when the plant is most resilient. This is also an excellent opportunity to repot the parent plant. More on propagation techniques here.

Variants

The reginae variety is known for their orange flowers, while the nicolai variety produces white flowers. In every other respect, they look identical.

TrOUBlESHOOTING

Why are there brown edges and crispy patches on my Bird of Paradise?

Symptom

Leaves are browning along the edges and turning brittle and crispy over time. These edges may even expand to larger patches across the leaf.

Cause

The most likely culprit is dehydration or a bit too much sunlight, which can lead to sun-scorch or leaf burn. While your Bird of Paradise does enjoy some direct light, if the plant has previously spent their life in lower light conditions, they may have a hard time adjusting. More light also means your plant is drying out faster, so the browning edges can be a sign of underwatering or extremely dry conditions.

Solution

If you want to keep your Bird of Paradise in a sunny spot, try doing so gradually—starting with mostly bright, indirect light and slowly increasing to a few hours of morning or evening sun. This will help your plant adjust to the increased light and avoid unsightly burns. Keep in mind, with more sun, you'll also have to keep an eye on your watering frequency since the plant will dry out faster. While not generally too bothered by specific humidity levels, if your conditions are particularly dry, you may want to introduce some additional humidity.

More on leaf changes here.
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Why are the leaves on my Bird of Paradise tearing and splitting?

Symptom

Leaves are tearing or splitting along the veins, creating a frayed look.

Cause

These delicate large leaves are designed to split in the presence of strong winds to avoid being blown over. In nature, this certainly comes in handy, but is usually less of an issue indoors. However, if your plant is in a high traffic or drafty spot, you may notice more splitting.

Solution

If this frayed appearance bothers you, try to relocate your plant to a more protected spot where you are less likely to brush past the plant or encounter drafts.

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Why are the leaves on my Bird of Paradise wilting and yellowing?

Symptom

Multiple leaves are wilting and turning yellow—particularly the older, lower leaves. You may also notice stunted growth and mushy stems.

Cause

The most likely culprit is overwatering and initial signs of root rot. When a plant's roots sit in waterlogged soil for too long, a fungal infection can quickly take over, causing the roots to rot (turning brown and mushy).

Solution

First, ensure that your plant has appropriate drainage. Both in terms of well-draining soil and plenty of drainage holes in the plant's container.

If you think you've caught the overwatering early on, you can simply let the plant dry out more than you have been. Around 50% of the soil should be dry before watering again. Continue monitoring and only water when needed. You might also try using chopsticks (or something similar) to poke holes in the soil to help the roots get more oxygen. And finally, you can try to "wick" the excess moisture out of the soil by placing the whole pot (with drainage holes) in a tray or container with dry soil. This new layer of dry soil should soak up some of the excess moisture from the waterlogged areas around your plant's roots.

However, if you suspect a serious case of root rot, you'll definitely need to take a peak at the roots by removing the plant entirely from their container. If there are any black and mushy roots, trim them back completely before repotting with fresh soil in a new or sterilized container.

More on leaf changes here.
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Why are the leaves on my Bird of Paradise curling inward/outward?

Symptom

Leaf edges curling, either inward or outward. Usually accompanied by some discoloration.

Cause

Leaves curling inward is often a sign of dehydration from either too much light or not enough water. Leaves curling outward is more likely a sign of not enough light or too much water.

Solution

The key is a well tuned balance between the amount of light and your frequency of watering. Instead of going by a set schedule, check-in with your plant to see if they need the water or not. You'll want to allow around half the soil to dry out completely before watering again. While this may be on a consistent schedule for some months, as the seasons change, so will the amount of light and thus your watering schedule will shift.

More on watering here.
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