Bird of paradise, also known as crane flowers, is one of the most beautiful and exotic flower types. Native to South Africa, the bird of paradise plant bears unique orange and blue flowers that look like a beautifully colored bird in flight, thus giving the plant its popular name. It is an exceptionally attractive landscape plant, with the foliage resembling small banana leaves with long petioles. The leaves of the plant are arranged in two ranks that make a fan-like crown of evergreen foliage which looks thick, waxy and glossy, giving it an attractive and ornamental look. The flowers of the plant are the favorite amongst all decorators and designers, as they add a charismatic beauty to any decor. However, the plants need a bit of extra care to help them maintain their beautiful appearance. This article provides you with tips on how to care for bird of paradise plant which, if followed, can give your bird of paradise a healthy and blooming life.
How To Care For Bird Of Paradise
The bird of paradise plant needs to be carefully planted. The planting hole should be dug 2 to 3 times larger than the diameter of the root ball. Remove the plant from the container and water it properly, before planting it. After watering the plant, place it in the dug hole, ensuring that the top of the root ball is not deeper than the soil surface. Planting the plant too deep or just at the surface level will lead to delay in flowering as well as plant’s growth. Water the plant, while planting, to remove any air pockets. It is also advisable to construct a saucer like basin around the plant, from the extra backfill soil, which will hold the water, until it drains down to the plant’s root.
Bird of paradise plant requires bright light with at least 4 hrs of direct sunlight every day. A south facing window, sunroom or greenhouse is ideal to give the plant the light it needs.
Water the bird of paradise thoroughly to maintain its fresh and bright look. However, make sure that the soil is dry before you water it the next time. In winters, the plant does not require much water, so it would be best if you water the plant sparingly in the winter season.
Temperature & Humidity
The bird of paradise plant is well suited for room temperature from 60-75 °F (16-24°C) from spring through fall, while 50-55 °F (10-13°C) best suits the winters. The plant requires average humidity to grow and flourish.
Feed the bird of paradise with 10-10-10 fertilizer every two weeks, the best time being from March to September.
Fertilization & Pruning
Fertilization is very important for proper growth and flowering of the bird of paradise plant. Organic fertilizers, granular landscape fertilizers or controlled-release materials can be used to fertilize the soil for these plants. Spread the fertilizers around the plants every two months during the growing season. You can follow the directions given on the fertilizer label. Make sure to remove the dead leaves and old flower stalks, before fertilization. This would not only help to increase the aesthetic quality of the plant, but also reduce the risk of fungal organism building up on the dead tissue.
The birds of paradise propagate either by plant division or by seed. If you go in for the division of the plant it might take 2 years to reach the blooming size. On the other hand, plants grown from seeds require 7 to 10 years to achieve their first flower.
Pest & Disease Problems
The birds of paradise are generally pest free. However, they tend to get exposed to insects like aphids, caterpillars, grasshoppers, scales and snails, occasionally. A leaf borer can also attack the flower bracts at times, during the months of August and September. The bird of paradise might also suffer from fungal leaf spot disease. However, these fungal and insect attacks do not usually threaten the overall survival of the plant.