|Ants keep invading my Birds of Paradise plants. How can I prevent this? Also, how do you care for a birds of pardise plant? Thank you.|
|The ants are either "herding" aphids, or they've discovered the sweet nectar within the flowers. Check your plants carefully for signs of aphids. If there's a healthy population, hose them off with a strong stream of water or use insecticidal soap to eliminate them. If there are no aphids, you can try diatomaceous earth (available from Gardener's Supply Co. (www.gardeners.com or ph# 800-863-1700). Folks have also had success with boric acid bait. A good "home remedy" is to make a paste out of sweetened condensed milk and boric acid powder. Roll into little balls (shoot for consistency of fudge). Place these about the garden and ants will eat them, share with their pals, and die. Be careful with this remedy if you have pets or children, they could eat the "fudge" as well.
Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae) produce long-lasting and quite striking flowers intermittently throughout the year, but bloom best during the cool season. You can cut the spent flower and stalk down to foliage level to keep the plants looking neat and tidy. Cut off dead leaves as they appear. Bird of Paradise blooms best when clumps are crowded, and the soil is watered deeply and frequently.
If you decide to dig and divide the clumps, you can do so now, but blooming will stop until the plants become re-established.