The Q&A Archives: Bird of Paradise

Question: I have a Bird of Paradise plant in the house for at least 6 years. It has never bloomed. The leaves just dry out and drop off, then more leaves grow and the cycle repeats itself. I fertlize once a month.

Answer: Strelitzia, or Bird of Paradise, is one of the most spectacular of all houseplants. The vivid flowers last for several weeks on top of tall stalks, surrounded by large leaves. It does, however, require patience. Most new plants take 4-6 years before flowering starts. Mature plants grow 3'-4' tall and one plant will fill a 10" pot. Provide average warmth (keep at 55F - 60F in the winter), give as much light as possible, but shade from hot afternoon sun, water thoroughly, but allow the surface of the potting soil to dry out before watering again, and mist the leaves occasionally. If you've given your Bird of Paradise all of the above requirements and it's still not blooming, hold off on the fertilizer for a while. It's possible it's getting too much nitrogen, which will promote lush, green growth, at the expense of bloom. It should bloom soon and the wait will have been worthwhile!

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