The Q&A Archives: Propagating a Bird of Paradise

Question: I am growing Bird of Paradise plants and have two of them. Is there a way to start new plants from these two? Is it possible to start a new plant from one of the dead flowers from the plant or some other possible way?

Answer: According to sources with Florida's Extension Service, Bird of Paradise may be propagated from seeds or plant divisions. Seedling plants may take three to five years to reach maturity and begin blooming. The black
seeds have orange fuzz on one end and are the size of sweet pea seeds. Because they have hard seed coats, seeds must be scarified (nicked or scratched) before they will germinate. To scarify, soak in lukewarm water for several hours, then nick with a knife or small file.

Sow seeds in vermiculite, a one-to-one volume mix of peat and perlite, or a ready-made mix, to a depth of one-half inch. The soil mix should be kept damp and not allowed to dry out. To create a humid environment, cover seed container with a sheet of glass or clear plastic until germination. Seeds germinate in about two to three months. To speed germination time, wrap unscarified seeds in a plastic bag and place them in a refrigerator at 40-45?F for two weeks. Scarify seeds and plant as described.

Transplant seedlings individually into pots when they have two true leaves. Fertilization can begin at this stage.

The Bird-of-Paradise can also be propagated by division. This method requires only one to two years before the plants reach maturity and flower. 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. Remove dead leaves and roots and wash the roots. To prevent disease and insect carryover, soak divisions in a 1:10 dilution of bleach for ten minutes before planting.

Plant divisions at the same soil depth at which they had been previously grown. Keep the soil moist until roots are established, then begin fertilizing. Divisions usually require at least three months to generate new roots.

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