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Belle's Green House

White Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia nicolai)

White Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia nicolai)

Regular price $29.50 USD
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The white bird of paradise (Strelitzia nicolai) is native to South Africa where it is known as Crane Flower. It derives its name, bird of paradise, from its resemblance to the bird of paradise which is actually native to New Guinea.

Fabulous and flashy, bird of paradise blooms bring sizzling tropical color to a vase or your landscape.The blossoms resemble a bird in flight or an artfully folded origami sculpture. The spiky explosion of petals from the flower bud also mimics the head of a crowned crane, giving rise to another common name, crane flower. Whatever you call it, this bloomer is beautiful.

Bird of paradise (Strelitzia nicolai) craves heat, growing best in temperatures over 50 F. Winter hardy in Zones 10 to 12, bird of paradise adapts readily to containers. In colder regions, many gardeners tuck it into a pot they can shift outdoors during the summer. Bird of paradise grows 4' to 6' tall and wide. A healthy, mature plant can produce up to 36 flower spikes each year.

Planting tips: Give bird of paradise a spot in full sun for best growth and most flowers. The exception to that is in the hottest regions, where partial shade protects plants from strong sun and heat. Plants in full sun tend to be shorter with smaller flowers, while part-shade plants grow taller with larger flowers.

Fertile, rich soils with good drainage produce best growth and flowering. Add compost or other organic matter to soil prior to planting. Avoid planting in a spot with poor drainage. Plants tend to fan out as they grow, and more flowers form along the outside edges of the plant clump. Space plants 4' to 6' apart to allow for ample spread and flowering. If planting near a walk or driveway, position the plant 4' to 5' away.

Because leaves are evergreen, bird of paradise is an ideal plant for places where dropping leaves create a maintenance issue, such as beside a swimming pool or in a courtyard. It makes a terrific accent plant in a landscape or anchor shrub in a garden bed.

Watering: During the first six months after planting, plants need regular watering to help them establish in the landscape. Aim for a balance — not too wet and not too dry. Yellowing leaves signal both too much and not enough water. Rely on touching the soil to see if it's dry before you water. Once plants are established, water plants deeply during the growing season, letting soil dry before watering. In winter, as growth slows, water only when soil is very dry to the touch.

Getting more flowers: A newly planted bird of paradise often doesn't blossom for a few years. To encourage a plant to bloom, start fertilizing. Apply liquid fertilizer once a week for three weeks. Don't fertilize the fourth week. Repeat this process until the plant starts flowering. Be sure to water the plant well an hour before you fertilize. When the plant starts blooming, let it become fully dry (even extra dry) before you water, and it will flower more. Crowded plants produce more blooms, so don't rush to divide clumps.

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