Home Plant guides How to care for a Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia)

Strelitzia leaves

How to care for a Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia)

The Bird of Paradise is one of the most well-known tropical houseplants. It looks a lot like the Banana plant and it's easy to confuse the two plants. Unlike most tropical plants, the Bird of Paradise is easy to take care of and is a great option for tropical plant-loving beginners.

The Bird of Paradise, also known as Strelitzia reginae, Strelizia nicolai, or just Strelitzia is a fast growing tropical plant that gets big. It's a houseplant that you need to have space for, because it's too large for smaller houses. It can get as big as 1.80m (6ft) tall and 1.20m (4ft) wide.

In this plant care guide, we're going to look at a few different parts of taking care for your Bird of Paradise:

  1. Watering your Bird of Paradise
  2. Sunlight exposure
  3. Soil for your Strelitzia
  4. Fertilizing your Strelitzia
  5. Common pests
  6. Flowering
  7. Toxicity for pests

Let's find out how we can take care of the Bird of Paradise!

Watering your Bird of Paradise

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The Bird of Paradise is a tropical houseplant. Like many other tropical plants, the Strelitzia prefers to be in moist soil most of the time. Like an Alocasia Zebrina, the Strelitzia has thick stems that store a lot of moisture. This helps to keep the plant healthy and hydrated when it's getting a little dry.

Most plants like their soil to dry out in between watering, but the Strelitzia is not one of those plants. It's important to keep the soil moist at all times. The Bird of Paradise has huge leaves, through which it loses a lot of moisture. During the spring and summer you will have to water your plant about twice per week.

During the fall and winter, when your Strelitzia becomes dormant and doesn't use as much energy to grow, you can water less as well. You should still make sure the soil is moist all the time, but you can water a little less: about once per week.

When you're watering your Bird of Paradise, make sure not to water too much. This plant doesn't like to sit in wet soil and this will cause root rot over time. A simple trick is to use a pot with a drainage hole to let the excess water escape from the pot. Another way to check the soil at the bottom of the pot is to use a moisture meter. These plant become quite large, so you might not be able to use a pot with a drainage hole. A moisture meter will help you to make sure you're not watering your plant too much.

Brown edges

If you notice brown edges on the leaves of your bird of paradise, you've most likely overwatered it. When you see this, let the soil mostly dry out before watering your plant again. This is when you should let some extra oxygen reach the roots of your plant to recover. The easiest solution is to let the soil mostly dry out.

Yellow leaves

If you've underwatered your Strelitzia, you'll see yellow leaves on your plant. When you see this, just water your plant and make sure to keep its soil moist in the future. The yellow leaf won't turn green again, but your plant will be happy again.

Sunlight exposure

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Leaves of a Bird of Paradise Photo by Luca Deasti on Unsplash

The Bird of Paradise loves bright sunlight, including direct sunlight. This means that it is the perfect plant for a spot close to your windows where it gets a lot of bright light. The Strelitzia doesn't mind direct sunlight, but it's important to keep it away from the harsh afternoon sun. Direct sunlight in the afternoon is too harsh for the large Strelitzia leaves and could leave burn marks.

An ideal place would be a spot near a window that gets direct sunlight in the morning or evening. In this spot your Bird of Paradise will get plenty of sunlight and energy to grow quickly. The Strelitzia doesn't do well in a poorly-lit room, as it needs bright sunlight to grow properly.

Soil for your Strelitzia

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Soil on a table Photo by Neslihan Gunaydin on Unsplash

Earlier, we've discovered that the Strelitzia likes to be in moist soil at all times. However, it's also important not to let it sit in wet soil. The perfect soil for your bird of paradise should be soil that retains moisture well, but lets the excess water escape quickly. You can buy pre-mixed potting soil for this or make it yourself.

The most important ingredients of the soil should be:

  • Potting soil
  • Perlite
  • Peat moss

The potting soil contains the nutrients your plant needs to grow into a big and healthy houseplant. The perlite helps your soil drain excess moisture quickly and provides a bit of structure.

The structure of your soil is very important, because you don't want the soil to compact over time. When you water your plant often, the soil will want to compact and become denser. Perlite helps the soil to keep its shape and prevents the soil from becoming too dense. When the soil becomes dense, the moisture won't drain as easily and it won't allow oxygen to reach your plants' roots, which will cause root rot.

Lastly, the peat moss is great at retaining moisture and keeping the soil light.

The combination of these three ingredients will make sure that your Strelitzia gets the perfect amount of moisture and still gets oxygen at its roots.

Leca

If the soil mix seems too complicated and you don't want to have to worry about overwatering your plant, you can always use Leca. Leca is great watering your plant perfectly, while still making sure oxygen gets to your plant's roots.

Fertilizing your Strelitzia

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Liquid fertilizer

Your Strelitzia is a fast-growing houseplant. Like other fast-growing houseplants, it uses a lot of energy to grow this quickly. Most of this energy it gets from the bright sunlight, but you will also need to fertilize it to keep it healthy. Especially during the spring and summer, this plant uses a lot of nutrients to put out huge new leaves. During the time, you should fertilize your plant once per week with a liquid fertilizer mixed in with the water. You can also use a slow-release fertilizer if you want a solution that takes less effort.

During the fall and winter, you shouldn't fertilize your Strelitzia. Your plant will most likely be dormant and won't absorb much of the fertilizer. When too much fertilizer stays in the soil, it can become acidic, which makes it a bad place for plants to grow.

There are many great ways to fertilize your Strelitzia. If you want to know which fertilizer works best for you and your bird of paradise, have a look at "What is the best type of fertilizer for houseplants?".

Common pests

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Spider mites on a Strelitzia leaf

Your bird of paradise is a tropical houseplant. Like many other tropical plants, it's vulnerable to a few different pests, including Spider mites and scale. These are tough pests to get rid of, but there are ways to help your plant quickly. The best way to treat these pests is to use neem oil. Neem oil is a natural essential oil that's very effective against these pests on a Strelitzia.

When you do notice these pests on your plant, be sure to spray the neem oil on all leaves and also on the bottom of the leaves. Repeat this process every day for a week and the pests will be gone.

It's also a great idea to use neem oil as a preventive measure against pests. If you regularly spray your Strelitzia with Neem oil, the risk of getting any pests is significantly lower. Spraying your plants as prevention can help you in the long-term.

Flowering

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Flower on a bird of paradise Photo by Thimo van Leeuwen on Unsplash

The bird of paradise grows flowers. These flowers grow in the later winter and early spring, but only under certain conditions. First of all, it takes at least 3 years before it will start to grow any flowers. Second of all, it only grows flowers if it's getting plenty of sunlight and has been taken care of well.

It's quite a rare sight to see the flowers if you're keeping the Strelitzia as a houseplant, it's more likely to happen if it grows in its natural environment.

Toxicity for pests

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The Strelitzia stems and leaves are not toxic to your pets, but the flowers and seeds are. Luckily, these flowers are quite rare when your grow your bird of paradise indoors. Overall, if your Strelitzia isn't growing any flowers, it's relatively safe to have this plant around your pets.

If you see your pets getting nauseous and suspect they've eaten the plant, make sure to call a veterinarian to ask for advice.

Conclusion

The Bird of Paradise, also known as a type of Strelitzia is a fast-growing houseplant that can become quite large in size. It's relatively easy to take care of this tropical plant, which might come as a surprise to you. Another surprise is that the plant is relatively safe around pets, but only when they're not growing flowers. Overall, the Bird of Paradise is an amazing plant that you can put in any bright place in your house. It will turn your house into an indoor jungle in an instant.

Thank you for reading this post! I hope it helps you to keep your plants healthy and beautiful! If you're looking for more guides on specific plants, you can always request a plant guide or donate a plant in order to get a guide for the plant you have trouble with.

Posted on: Apr 10, 2021 Last updated on: May 30, 2021

Other common names for this plant

  • Strelitzia reginae
  • Strelizia nicolai

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