Hardy coastal plant: Bird of paradise

Bird of paradise (Strelitzia reginae) is an exquisite, mysterious flower. This well-known African flower captivates people with its bright blue petals and fiery orange sepals, which extend from a beak-shaped leaf to give the impression of a brilliantly coloured bird in flight. Flowers appear throughout the year on long stalks above the rich green leaves. When birds drink the flower’s nectar, the petals open to dust their feet with pollen. Millions of bird of paradise blooms are sold as cut flowers each year.

Common name: Bird of paradise

Botanical name: Strelitzia reginae

Plant type: Perennial

Zones: 10 to 12

Height:  to 4 feet

Family: Strelitziaceae

Growing conditions

• Sun: Full sun to part shade

• Soil: Fertile, loamy, well-drained

Moisture: Moist but not soggy, coastal area no problem

Care

Mulch: Mulch to preserve moisture in the soil and prevent weeds.

• Pruning: None needed.

• Fertiliser: Fertilise often in spring and summer.

Propagation

• By seed or by division.

Pests and diseases

• No major insect or disease problems, but mealybugs and scale may be a problem, coast keeps it healthy.

Garden notes

• Bird of paradise looks great in a container. In warm climates, it makes an excellent street or landscape planting.

• If you grow S. reginae inside, choose a well-lit, sunny location. During summer months, protect the plant from direct sunlight.

• Bird of paradise is very wind resistant and performs well in coastal gardens.

• The leaves of S. reginae are evergreen and provide striking foliage year-round.

All in the family

• Plants in the Strelitziaceae family are similar in appearance and growth to those of the banana family (Musaceae).

• Strelitziaceae has only three genera: Strelitzia, from Africa; Ravenala, from Madagascar; and Phenakospermum, from South America.

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