Ask a Question forum: Bird of Paradise

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Name: alyssa
Pennsylvania (Zone 7b)
alyssavache
Nov 30, 2016 8:35 AM CST
Hello all, I have a bird of paradise that my boyfriend got me as an anniversary gift. It is by far my favorite plant that I own. For the most part, I know how to care for it; however, I have a few questions. First, how do I know how old it is? I want flowers next season, and I know they have to be at least 5-7 years old. Mine has 8 leaves (I pruned a dead one off a few months back) and what looks like another starting to make its way up. It is about 16" tall (rough guess) and growing in a 10 or 12" pot on a west-to-northwest bay windowsill. It receives indirect light all day, and direct light for about 4 hours. Secondly, I've read a ton of conflicting opinions on fertilizers. Should I use a flower booster, compost, or bloodmeal? Or something else, and how often? I've even read to use bloodmeal monthly on top of a biweekly houseplant fert! Any answers and information is greatly appreciated, it's hard to find definite answers for BOP.
Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
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Philipwonel
Dec 1, 2016 10:57 AM CST
5 to 7 yrs. To bloom ? Really !!!
Well i learned something today Hurray! A pic would help to determine age. I dont think they like hot afternoon sun. Tropical. As for fertilizer. I would give bloom type.
Somebody will probably come along and correct me. They allways do !
Butt thats OK ! Then we both learn something.
I swear ! OTHERS ARE WATCHING ME !!! Rolling on the floor laughing
Ohhh!!!! Where you live really helps!
Welcome! 😎😎😎
Anything i say, could be misrepresented, or wrong.
Name: Ann ~Heat zn 9, Sunset
North Fl. (Zone 8b)
Garden Sages Native Plants and Wildflowers Xeriscape Organic Gardener I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level
Butterflies Charter ATP Member Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Dog Lover Birds
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flaflwrgrl
Dec 1, 2016 6:40 PM CST
@Dutchlady1
@dyzzypyxxy
I am a strong believer in the simple fact is that what matters in this life is how we treat others. I think that's what living is all about. Not what I've done in my life but how I've treated others.
~~ Sharon Brown ~~



Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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dyzzypyxxy
Dec 1, 2016 6:52 PM CST
Alyssa, it will help us to advise you if you would fill in your profile with your location. Even growing indoors, the strength of the light through winter, and the humidity of the ambient air help determine how a plant will grow. How cool does your home get at night?

Birds of Paradise bloom best when they are somewhat crowded in their pot. Could you possibly post a picture of your plant? I think with only 8 leaves on the go at the moment, you may have more than a year or two before that plant will bloom.

If it's hot and humid in the summertime where you live, you should definitely get that plant outside as soon as it's above about 55 at night, and keep it out all summer. Lots of water and fertilizer will help it put on leaves fast and furiously in the summer. I amend all my potted plants' soil with alfalfa pellets but you won't want the smell of them indoors, so if you can get some when it's time to put the plant outside, that will give it a nice jump start and a good dose of slow-release nitrogen to begin its summer growth. Then a balanced pelleted slow-release fertilizer will carry it nicely through its maximum growth period.

As far as light goes, BOP's grow here (FL) in full sun, but in California where the humidity is lower and temps higher, I'm sure Philip is right that they'd like some shade in the afternoons. Again, please tell us where you are?
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Carol
Santa Ana, ca
Sunset zone 22, USDA zone 10 A.
Charter ATP Member Hummingbirder Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Orchids Region: California Plant Identifier
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ctcarol
Dec 1, 2016 6:52 PM CST
I bought one in a 1Gal. nursery pot, in bloom. After planting it in the ground, it sulked for a year before blooming again. Now it's a monster!
Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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dyzzypyxxy
Dec 1, 2016 7:03 PM CST
Not sure if they can be forced into bloom, Carol. It might have been a division of a bigger blooming plant. They really like to grow in a crowded clump, and the bigger the clump is, the better they bloom. So if you have the patience to wait for them, they will reward you, long term. I have two clumps that used to bloom but my stand of bamboo now shades them in the summer so they gradually have become only foliage plants. Shrug!
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Carol
Santa Ana, ca
Sunset zone 22, USDA zone 10 A.
Charter ATP Member Hummingbirder Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Orchids Region: California Plant Identifier
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ctcarol
Dec 1, 2016 8:21 PM CST
I hear you! Mine is rapidly outgrowing it's space, and the avocado tree that hasn't been pruned in 2 years is shading it to where it's leaning toward the light. Both may have to go next spring.
Name: Hetty
Sunny Naples, Florida (Zone 10a)
Plumerias Photo Contest Winner: 2015 Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator Region: Florida Cat Lover Garden Sages Cactus and Succulents Tropicals
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Dutchlady1
Dec 2, 2016 5:57 AM CST
flaflwrgrl said:@Dutchlady1
@dyzzypyxxy


Not sure why I was summoned to this thread Confused
Name: alyssa
Pennsylvania (Zone 7b)
alyssavache
Dec 2, 2016 8:25 AM CST
Sorry guys, I haven't logged on in a few days!

I am in Pennsylvania, zone 7a (barely). The plant was outside all summer in the hot, sticky weather and I brought it inside about two or three weeks into October.
Name: alyssa
Pennsylvania (Zone 7b)
alyssavache
Dec 2, 2016 8:26 AM CST
here are a few pictures:
Thumb of 2016-12-02/alyssavache/c617a0

thumb for scale
Thumb of 2016-12-02/alyssavache/806f54

Name: alyssa
Pennsylvania (Zone 7b)
alyssavache
Dec 2, 2016 8:28 AM CST
I also just noticed that the tips of the lower three leaves are brown and dry, and the perimeter of what looks like the oldest leaf is browning. Why is this?
Name: Anna Z.
Monroe, WI
Charter ATP Member Greenhouse Cat Lover Raises cows Region: Wisconsin
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AnnaZ
Dec 2, 2016 8:33 AM CST
FWIW.............I had mine probably at least 6 or 7 years before it bloomed. Now it is in a 20 inch pot and very unmanageable. I am going to divide it because I think it is crowded beyond what it even likes to bloom. In order not to hijack this thread, perhaps I will start another and find out if you peeps that know more about them than I do think I should divide/repot.

A couple of years ago in January it had 12 blooms at once.
Name: Ann ~Heat zn 9, Sunset
North Fl. (Zone 8b)
Garden Sages Native Plants and Wildflowers Xeriscape Organic Gardener I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level
Butterflies Charter ATP Member Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Dog Lover Birds
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flaflwrgrl
Dec 2, 2016 9:01 AM CST
Dutchlady1 said:

Not sure why I was summoned to this thread Confused


I'm sorry Hetty, I thought I recalled that you had a bird of paradise or would be knowledgable about them. My apologies.
I am a strong believer in the simple fact is that what matters in this life is how we treat others. I think that's what living is all about. Not what I've done in my life but how I've treated others.
~~ Sharon Brown ~~



Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Image
dyzzypyxxy
Dec 2, 2016 9:56 AM CST
Rachel, those leaves could be browning at the tips if you have kept on fertilizing as the weather cooled. The plant grows much slower in cooler weather, so you need to ease back on both feeding and watering in winter. Fertilizer burn typically looks like brown, crispy tips on the leaves. So ramp up the fertilizer in spring, go for max growth with generous fert and water all summer, then ease back as the nights cool in fall.

It's also normal for the oldest leaf to die off first. Evergreen tropicals do this regularly - as they grow more new leaves, the older leaves peter out. Your plant is most likely a division from a much older plant, and that leaf could be several years old. You'll never know.

One more thought on the light situation - if you have an even brighter window for that plant to live in through the winter, your direct sun is so feeble and days so short that I'm sure the plant will do better in as much light as you can give it.

@AnnaZ of course you should divide your monster plant. Clumps of BOP here (in ground) can be as big as Volkswagens. You'll probably have to take a Sawzall to it to cut it into manageable pieces. But I'd leave the divisions pretty big - maybe cut the 20in root ball into 4 pieces? That way you won't have to wait 6 years again for the divisions to bloom. They might sulk for a year or two though.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Anna Z.
Monroe, WI
Charter ATP Member Greenhouse Cat Lover Raises cows Region: Wisconsin
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AnnaZ
Dec 2, 2016 9:58 AM CST
Elaine, I was thinking of just cutting it in half.
Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Image
dyzzypyxxy
Dec 2, 2016 9:59 AM CST
Perfect, but it will be two unmanageable plants again that much sooner, right? Rolling my eyes. Green Grin!
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Anna Z.
Monroe, WI
Charter ATP Member Greenhouse Cat Lover Raises cows Region: Wisconsin
Image
AnnaZ
Dec 2, 2016 10:03 AM CST
Oh, I can live with that. I just don't want to sulk it into "non-blooming' for 5 years by making it "too small"............ Rolling on the floor laughing
Name: Will Creed
NYC
Professional indoor plant consultan
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WillC
Dec 3, 2016 8:36 AM CST
Your plant is a White Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia alba) and it is very unlikely to ever bloom indoors. It is commonly used indoors as a foliage plant. Keep it in front of your sunniest window. It will not bloom unless it is very potbound and yours is in a very large pot. Water it enough to keep it from wilting. Indoors in good conditions, White Birds do tend to outgrow their spaces and eventually need pruning to keep them manageable. Simply cut off the offending leaf stems at the base. Otherwise, they are quite hardy foliage plants with a dramatic appearance in spaces that call for large specimens.
Will Creed
Horticultural Help, NYC
www.HorticulturalHelp.com
I now have a book available on indoor plant care

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