Garden Guide: Bird of Paradise plants bring incredible winter blooms indoors

Orange Bird of Paradise are native to South Africa. It is used to long periods of drought and can grow in small crevices in the wild.

Alex Calamia

Mar 6, 2024, 12:02 PM

Updated 38 days ago

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Bird of Paradise are possibly the most popular plant for gardeners looking for giant lush leaves, but did you know there are different types of Bird of Paradise? The White Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia nicolai) are available at almost every garden center, but their smaller cousin, the Orange Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae) is a better choice for northern gardeners and will reward you with unbelievable blooms!

Why are Orange Bird of Paradise rare?

Orange Bird of Paradise are rarely sold outside of the tropics. Make no mistake, they’re incredibly common in climates where they grow well (think Florida and California). They don’t have the instant “wow factor” the White Bird of Paradise has. The leaves are smaller, and it takes years for the plants to start blooming. It’s a harder sell for garden centers up north, but gardeners with a little patience will be rewarded.

How to take care of Orange Bird of Paradise

Orange Bird of Paradise are native to South Africa. It is used to long periods of drought and can grow in small crevices in the wild. It can spend its entire life in a container, and actually loves being root bound.
These plants love full sunshine, but mine has no problems with indirect sunlight during the wintertime. That’s because I bring mine outside for the summertime- first in shade, then gradually into full sun.
Bird of Paradise can survive chilly weather, but will not survive a hard freeze. My Bird of Paradise goes outside during mild spells in the winter. It is outside full-time from April into early November.

How to get it to bloom

The secret to blooms is time. These plants need to establish a large root system to support blooms. From a “3-gallon” nursery pot, expect this plant to take 2 to 5 years to mature enough to bloom. Usually a clump needs to hold onto about 30 leaves to start blooming.
The bloom spades on my Orange Bird of Paradise develop outside in September and October after a summer of sunshine. The spades continue to mature inside in a bright room and open up from January to March.
Once a plant is old enough to bloom, it will bloom reliably every single year. Although the blooms are most frequent on my plant in the wintertime, it does occasionally bloom in the summer as well.
It’s proof that just because a plant isn’t common doesn’t mean it’s difficult. Experimentation leads to some great garden surprises.


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