1) General Information:
a) Scientific Name: Strelitzia reginae
b) Region of Origin: Native of South Africa
c) Type: Decorative
d) General History: Bird-of-paradise or crane flower (Strelitzia reginae) is closely related to the banana. The herbaceous plant derives its common names from the unique flower it bears, which resembles a brightly colored bird in flight. The leathery leaves are held upright on stiff leafstalks and are about 6 inches wide and 18 inches long.The showy bloom is actually a combination of blue petals and orange sepals that emerge from a beak-like bract (modified leaf). Blooms appear intermittently most of the year. Healthy, mature plants can produce as many as three dozen flower spikes a year, which will last up to two weeks when cut.
2) Plant Uses:
a) As Food: n/a
b) As Medicine: n/a
c) Other Uses: The plant forms a 3- to 5-foot-tall clump that can be used as a focal point in the landscape or in mass plantings. The evergreen leaves of bird-of-paradise do not drop from the plant, which makes it an excellent addition to pools or wherever shedding leaves are an aesthetic and/or maintenance problem.
3) Growing Instructions
a) Growing: The planting hole should be dug 2 to 3 times the diameter of the root ball. Make it as deep as the root ball is tall. Before planting, thoroughly water the plant and remove it from the container. Gently place the plant in the hole, making sure the top of the root ball is no deeper than the soil surface. Planting too deeply may cause a delay in flowering. Fill around the ball with soil and gently firm the soil. Water thoroughly while planting to remove air pockets. Construct a saucer-like basin around the plant from the extra backfill soil. This will hold water until it drains down to the plant’s roots.
Where the soil is hard, compacted, or poorly drained, consider digging a planting hole half as deep. Mound the soil to cover the sides of the root ball. A plant installed in this manner might require more frequent irrigation during dry periods but is not likely to suffer from drainage problems.
b) Best time to Harvest: n/a
c) Sunlight Requirements: For good flower production, place plants in sunny or partially shaded locations. Plants grown in partial shade will be taller and have somewhat larger flowers. In full sun, plants are smaller and flowers are on shorter stems.
d) Soil Requirements: Grows in most soils, but does best in fertile, organic soils with good drainage. It is considered to be a slow-growing plant.
e) Propagation: A bird-of-paradise grown from seed will take three to five years to bloom. The black seeds have orange fuzz on one end and are the size of sweet pea seeds. Collect, prepare, and plant the seeds as soon after harvest as possible. To increase the germination time, soak the seeds in lukewarm water for one or two days and then scarify them (nick the hard seed coat) with a knife or small file. Scarified seeds usually germinate in one to two months. Some gardeners report that germination time can be further reduced by placing the un-scarified seeds in a plastic bag and putting them in a refrigerator at 40-45°F for two weeks. This treatment should still be followed by scarification.
Sow seeds in vermiculite, a one-to-one mixture of peat and perlite, or a ready-made mix to a depth of 1/2-1 inch. The soil mix must be kept consistently damp until the seeds sprout. This requires patience as it can take anywhere from one month to a year for the seeds to germinate depending on the pre-treatment. To ensure a moist, humid environment during this prolonged period, cover the seed flat or container with a sheet of glass or clear plastic and place it in a warm area that receives indirect light. Occasionally check the dampness of the soil and water when necessary. Transplant seedlings individually into individual pots when they have two true leaves. Light fertilization can begin at this stage. The young plants should be ready to transplant into larger pots or the landscape after two to three months. The bird-of-paradise is more easily propagated by division. This method will produce mature, flowering plants in one to two years. Dig up and separate old clumps, dividing those with four to five shoots into single-stem divisions. For best results, divide clumps during late spring or early summer.
f) Controlling Spread: n/a
g) Difficulties with this plant: n/a
h) History of this Plant at Hedonisia: n/a
Location on Property: Garden E