How to Care for and Grow Your Bird of Paradise

The Bird of Paradise

AKA strelitzia nicolai

With enormous glossy leaves and lush jungle vibes, the Bird of Paradise or Strelitzia nicolai is a true head-turner when brought indoors. Named after its colorful flower which resembles a bird in flight, this stylish yet hardy plant is perfect for plant novices and experts alike. Read on for simple tips on how to care for your Bird of Paradise and enjoy years and years of growth.

Light

Water

  • Water thoroughly when topsoil is dry, usually once a week. Avoid overwatering.

  • Watering schedule may be less frequent during winter months

Growth

  • In prime conditions, the Bird of Paradise is a fast grower and can grow up to 10 feet tall indoors

  • As these are such fast growers, fertilize once every two weeks in spring and summer

Common problems with Birds of Paradise

Brown edges - underwatering

  • Symptom - crispy brown edges that curl upwards

  • Cause - not enough water

  • Remedy - a good shower! Remove the plant from its decorative pot and place in a shower, bathtub, or outside. Give it a thorough watering, allowing it to drain all the excess out before putting back in the pot. Depending on how dry the plant is, you may also allow it to sit in water for an hour or two.

Yellow leaves - overwatering

  • Symptom - yellowing wilted leaves

  • Cause - overwatering

  • Remedy - Check the roots to make sure there is no root rot. If the roots are damaged, you will need to repot your plant (see below). If the roots are fine, simply let the plant dry out before watering again.

Curling leaves - underwatering

  • Symptom - leaves that curl inwards

  • Cause - underwatered

  • Remedy - a good shower! Remove the plant from its decorative pot and place in a shower, bathtub, or outside. Give it a thorough watering, allowing it to drain all the excess out before putting back in the pot. Depending on how dry the plant is, you may also allow it to sit in water for an hour or two.

How to maintain a beautiful and healthy Bird of Paradise

Take care of your Bird of Paradise and it will take care of you! Below are simple tips to continue caring for your Bird of Paradise over time.

  • Pruning - This plant does not mind an occasional haircut. With clean shears, cut off older or less attractive stalks at the base. Your plant will have more energy for new growth!

  • Cleaning - Take each leaf between two soft tissue cloths and wipe off the top to reveal a healthy shine (also helps the plant soak in more light!).

  • Trimming & reshaping - Have some leaves that are perfectly healthy but have a few cosmetic damages? Simply trim the leaf to imitate its natural shape. You also may notice your bird of paradise’s leaves occasionally split. This is completely natural and not much you can do about it. Obviously, the more this plant is touched, bumped into, moved, etc, the more the leaves will split.

  • Repotting - Houseplants grow much slower than they would in the wild. Depending on the size of your plant and the density of the roots, this is nice to do every 2-3 years to provide fresh nutrients and encourage new growth.

    • When to repot - if the roots start to become visible outside the soil, it is time to consider repotting your Bird of Paradise

    • Pot sizing - if you want your plant to grow taller, find a nursery pot that’s 2” in diameter larger than the current pot. If you want your plant to stay the same height, you can reuse the same pot and simply change the soil.

    • Get your hands dirty - spread out newspaper on the floor, remove the plant from the pot and shake off as much of the old soil as possible so that you have clean roots. Place the plant in the center of the pot, add new soil and pat down firmly. Water the soil thoroughly and place the plant in an area with bright indirect light. Your plant will take 2-4 weeks to settle from the shock and adjust to its new home.

 

How to propagate a Bird of Paradise

Propagating a Bird of Paradise is best done through division. That said, because Birds of Paradise like to have their roots tightly packed, it is best to only propagate from a plant that has a lot to spare or has outgrown its pot.

  • Spread a newspaper on the floor and remove the plant from its pot - You should see a giant mass of roots!

  • Determine which pieces of the plant you will divide - Carefully begin to separate or untangle the roots. If you need to cut, use clean shears.

  • Repot in fresh soil - Once you have your divided pieces, repot in fresh soil, pack down tightly, and water thoroughly. You’re done!


birdofparadise.jpg

Bird of paradise

Vibrant, lush, and easy to care for, the Bird of Paradise is a popular choice houseplant with wide foliage and a tropical feel.