Maintain the Beauty of Your Bird of Paradise

Birds of Paradise plants can make a beautiful addition to your home or garden. They require adequate care during the first 6 months of their growing period. Birds of Paradise prefer lots of water, lots of sun, and humid conditions.

After the initial growing period, Birds of Paradise become less needy, but still need to be maintained. Watering three times per week is the minimum for this plant.

All About Birds of Paradise

The Birds of Paradise plant is native to South Africa. It’s closely related to the banana which is easy to see when you compare the colorful flowers.

You may be surprised to learn that there are over 3-dozen species in the Paradisaeidae family according to National Geographic. Each has a slightly different appearance. Although most have rich, leathery green leaves with a red mid-rib, the flowers can differ even between the male and female plants.

Depending on the varietal you get, you may notice brilliant oranges, intense blues, bright scarlet and even deep greens or purples in the plumage. Some species have vibrant feathers while others boast breast shields and head fans.

This ornamental plant grows best indoors. However, with the ideal climate, it is possible to grow outdoors. Birds of Paradise can grow up to 4-5 feet tall and 2-3 feet wide.

Once fully mature, the plant can be divided. It can also be propagated from the seed, but you could be waiting five years or more before you see your plant bloom.

You should be aware that the fruit and seeds of Birds of Paradise can be toxic to dogs and cats, according to the ASPCA. Seek medical care if your pet is nauseous, or vomiting and you suspect it has eaten the plant.

How to Start Growing a Bird of Paradise Plant

As previously mentioned it’s much easier to start your plant from a cutting rather than a seed. Growing Birds of Paradise from seed can be a long, tedious task. With lots of care and attention, you’ll soon be on your way to having a gorgeous tropical plant of your own.

From a Seed

You’ll need to find the freshest seeds available for best results. Soak the seeds, changing the water daily, for three days before planting.

Cover with a thin layer of soil and keep well-lit for 12-16 hours daily. Better Homes and Gardens says the warmer the soil, the better during the germination process. Bear in mind it can take up to a full month before you see your plant sprout.

From a Cutting

When starting a Birds of Paradise plant from a cutting, place it in a small pot with a high-quality planting mixture of aerated soil and perlite. Coarse sand can also be used in combination with soil to help improve drainage.

Top it with ½ inch of mulch to stabilize the root temperature and conserve moisture. If the plant has been freshly cut, give it a day or two to heal before shocking it with water.

From a Plant

Whether you plan to pot, re-pot, or plant outdoors, you should choose an area that is 2-3 times the size of the root ball. Birds of paradise can grow quite large, especially when planted outdoors. Keep the root system slightly below ground level but not too deep.

After removing the plant from its original container, give the roots a good dusting of root growth hormones to help them adapt to their new environment. You want the root system to be well established as quickly as possible. Water the plant thoroughly before and during the planting process to ensure all air pockets are gone.

Caring for Birds of Paradise

Your Birds of Paradise will require adequate care during the first 6 months of planting. After this time, your plant should be able to thrive with little care. Follow the below tips to keeping a healthy Birds of Paradise in your home.

Water Needs

During the first grow season, you’ll need to provide your plant with lots of water to establish a deep root system. Keep your plant moist but not waterlogged. Soggy soil could leave your Birds of Paradise could with root rot.

After the first grow season a decent watering should be maintained during the spring and summer months. In the fall and winter, the plant becomes somewhat dormant and can benefit from drying out slightly.

If you live in an area that gets rather cold during the fall and winter, plants should be brought indoors before the first frost. Keep a spray bottle nearby to mist the plant’s flowers and leaves often during these months as well. Doing so will simulate the humidity which Birds of Paradise is so fond of.

Learn how to properly water your Birds of Paradise along with other great care tips in the above YouTube video. You’ll learn a few interesting things about white, yellow, and orange Birds of Paradise as well.

Light Needs

Birds of Paradise are a tropical plant that absolutely loves sunlight. Give this plant a minimal 5 hours of full sunlight per day. If kept indoors, east and west facing windows work best for this plant. Birds of Paradise is a tough plant that can withstand winds, so direct sunlight is more important than finding a non-drafty location. During winter months, some artificial light can be used to help supplement.

Soil Needs

You’ll want to find a soil that is rich, yet has good drainage. A peat-based soil will work best for Birds of Paradise. Mix it with coarse sand or perlite to enhance the draining. Use mulch to top the soil to protect the roots of the plant and keep them warm.

Feeding Needs

According to House Plant 411, you should never feed your Birds of Paradise plant in the fall or winter. Your plant needs this time to rest so fertilization can cause the plant to be stressed. Instead, compost or fertilize your plant before new growth in the spring.

Birds of Paradise can benefit from regular feedings. During the growing season use a 10-10-10 fertilizer at the base of the plant. This should be done every 2-3 weeks depending on your plant’s response.

Pruning Needs

Remove all dead leaves and flowers regularly. Doing so will prevent the plant from damage due to fungal organism build up. You can also divide the plant once it becomes mature. Dividing should be done in the late spring for best results.

In the short YouTube video above, you’ll learn how to prune your plant with minimal damage. When pruning, make sure to cut stalks from the base of the plant rather than mid-way for optimal re-growth.

Photo by MichaelGaida licensed under CC0.

Also Read: Ponytail Palm

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