Answer: The Bird of Paradise plant, Strelitzia reginae, is native to the subtropical areas of South Africa. For years, it was considered a collector's plant because it was difficult to find a nice specimen. With modern growing practices, Bird of Paradise plants are available more often, but are still a much-prized plant. They begin to bloom when they are about 4-5 years old and live on for years and years.
When selecting a Bird of Paradise plant, look for a full, healthy-looking plant with lots of new growth. Plants that are slightly crowded in their pots will bloom better.
They need lots of light and will even do well with full sun if they have been introduced to it slowly. Provide sufficient light indoors during our short day, dark winter by locating them in the sunniest window and giving them supplemental artificial light.
The soil will need to be kept moist all spring and summer but should be allowed to dry out slightly between watering in the fall and winter.
Average indoor temperatures are fine. Try to avoid temperatures below 50?.
They like high humidity during the growing season. Spray them every day in the summer but cut back to just once or twice a week in the winter.
Feed your Bird of Paradise every other week during spring and summer with a liquid such as Schultz's Instant Plant Food or a water-soluble fertilizer such as Bachman's Excel-Gro. Cut back to once a month in fall and winter.
A quality peat-based potting soil such as Bachman's Exceloam is perfect for this plant.
When they are young and actively growing, repot them every spring so they will have plenty of room. As they reach 4 or 5 years old, just replace the top soil every year or so. They will perform best if they remain root-bound.
Their large leaves will tend to collect some dust. Simply wipe them off with a soft cloth. The leaves naturally have a flat, matte finish that you shouldn't try to wipe off. Do not use any leafshine products.
The most common reason a Bird of Paradise won't bloom is that it is too young. It also needs to be crowded in its pot, so don't repot it after it is 4-5 years old. If the plant is mature and potbound and still fails to bloom, try using a fertilizer higher in phosphorus such as Schultz's Blooms Plus. If the above doesn't apply, your plants may be suffering from too little light. Nearly full sun is required for blooming. The Strelitzia reginae prefers full sun, 4000-8000 ft-candles, but can tolerate 2000 ft-candles. However flowering will be diminished at 2000 ft-candles. You might try some supplemental light. It is a warm temperate plant preferring 65-70 degrees F during the day and 50-55 degrees F at night. They prefer moderate humidity, around 60%. This may require some daily misting during the dry winter months.
In its normal growing region, Bird of Paradise does experience dry winter months. I would water sparingly during this time, both to mimic its normal growing region and to signal the plant that it is time to produce flower buds.
Hope this information answers all your questions!
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