The Q&A Archives: Bird of Paradise Care

Question: What fertilizer/Food should I use? What soil condition does it need? How do I devide or Propagate this plant?

Answer: Bird-of-paradise grows in most soils, but does best in fertile, organic soils with good drainage. It is considered to be a slow growing plant. For good flower production, place plants in sunny or partially shaded locations. Plants grown in partial shade will be taller and have somewhat larger flowers. In full sun, plants are smaller and flowers are on shorter stems. The bird of paradise will tolerate light salt spray but should not be used in exposed locations near the ocean.
Bird-of-paradise tends to produce more flowers along the outside of the plant. Thus, spacing the plants at least 6 feet apart will allow adequate space for flowering.

The success or failure of a new planting often depends on whether the plant receives adequate moisture during the establishment period (i.e., the first six months). Dry or soggy conditions will cause leaves to yellow and eventually die. Once established, bird-of-paradise prefers frequent watering from rain or irrigation during the warm growing season. During the winter months, plants should be watered only when the soil is fairly dry.

Mulch placed around the base of plants helps conserve moisture, stabilizes root temperature, and reduces weed infestations. Keep a 2- to 3-inch circular area around the stems of plants free of mulch. Mulches against the stems of plants may increase the chance of stem rot. Common organic mulch materials include leaves, pine needles, bark, and wood chips. Inorganic materials like gravel and crushed stone are also suitable.

For best growth and flowering, bird-of-paradise requires fertilization. Organic fertilizers (such as sewage sludge, manure, or blood meal), granular landscape fertilizers, or controlled-release materials such as Osmocote? or Nutricote? can be used. Spread fertilizer around plants every three months during the growing season according to the label directions.

The bird-of-paradise can be propagated by division. This method will produce mature, flowering plants in one to two years. For best results, divide clumps during late spring or early summer. Dig up and separate old clumps, dividing those with four to five shoots into single-stem divisions.

Plant divisions at the same soil depth at which they were previously grown. Keep the soil moist until roots are established (at least three months), then begin fertilizing.

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