Birds of paradise are beautiful and timeless tropical plants. Their large, broad leaves often get them mistaken for banana plants. Instead of delicious yellow fruit, however, you’ll instead be rewarded with gorgeous flowers that resemble their namesake bird.
Before accepting responsibility for these plants, keep in mind their size; the smallest varieties (the orange bird of paradise and white bird of paradise) grow to be about 4-6 ft tall and 3-4 ft wide. Other varieties reach up to 30 feet, so you want to avoid them unless you’re willing to take on that large of a project! Regardless, you’ll need to have ample room for this plant to grow to keep it happy. There is no doubt that birds of paradise would make a regal addition to your landscape or house. Here are some tips on how to take good care of them.
Climate: Our South Florida climate satisfies this plant’s need for warm temperatures and bright, sunny days. While they are able to survive through the winter outside, many people choose to bring their potted bird of paradise plants indoors during cooler weather when nights may dip down toward 50 degrees.
Soil and Fertilizer: As a tropical species, the bird of paradise grows best in soil that is rich. This means that if your yard is naturally quite sandy, you’ll likely need to amend the soil in your landscape bed before planting. Adding compost or other organic matter like peat moss and manure can help create an excellent growing environment for your bird of paradise plant. To keep their roots happy, make sure the soil still has excellent drainage. Those intricate flowers take a lot of energy to create, so expect these plants to be a bit needy when it comes to fertilizer. Give them a dose of liquid emulsified fish fertilizer once a week during the spring and summer to keep them well fed and happy.
Light: Birds of paradise can handle low indirect light–their large leaves allow them to make the most of what light they are given. However, bird of paradise plants prefer areas with full sun when grown outdoors, and bright indirect light when indoors (since direct light through windows is intensified and can cause burn spots). The more sun they receive, the more flowers they will produce! This plant will bloom beautifully in the winter if you’ve properly fed it throughout the growing season. You’ll see buds forming in September or October, then should get your first flowers in early December.
Water: Its tropical nature leads the bird of paradise plant to prefer moist soil. Avoid having the soil constantly soggy, but do your best to give it a good drink of water frequently. During the main growing season, it’s likely that you will need to water these plants once every 1 – 2 days as they lose moisture through their giant leaves. Here’s a trick for knowing what your bird of paradise needs: though contradictory to what you might think, the tips of the leaves will become crunchy when the plant is overwatered. Allow the soil to dry for a couple days if you notice this occurring. When thirsty, the outer leaves will begin to yellow and wilt.
Are you looking for more ideas and inspiration on how to turn your yard into a tropical paradise? Stop by one of Big Earth Landscape Supply‘s 4 area locations or shop our online store.