The Q&A Archives: giant bird of paradise & pruning

Question: I have two giant bird of paradise that I planted 10 years ago ... they are about 15 feet high... recently I hired a gardner and he not only cut off the dead leaves but stripped the outside parts down so it looks like a palm tree trunk ... was this okay... it looks wierd... any suggestions on what to tell him for next time...thanks nancy in covina

Answer: What you describe is actually a common practice with Giant Bird of Paradise. Older plants such as yours are sometimes trimmed in this fashion to make them look like trees. This type of pruning doesn't seem to hurt the plants, but instead of tropical looking shrubs, you'll have tropical looking trees, with the blooms high up in the canopy.

It's too late to change the appearance of your plants. However, Bird of Paradise tends to send up shoots from the roots so eventually you'll have a cluster of new plants at the bases of your trees. If you allow them to grow and become shrubby, and you don't like the bare trunks of your originals, you can cut the original plants down to ground level.

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