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Publication #FPS-563

Strelitizia reginae Bird of Paradise1

Edward F. Gilman2

Introduction

Bird of paradise is grown as much for its handsome, bluegreen tropical foliage as for the distinctive flowers that appear periodically throughout the year (Fig. 1). This slow-growing, clumping perennial resembles the related heliconia in vegetative appearance. Although best growth and flower production occurs in California and Hawaii, enough flowers develop under Florida landscape conditions to warrant planting. Flowers are produced on a stiff stem that rises above the foliage and are contained in orange and blue, boat-shaped bracts to produce a lovely effect in any landscape.

Figure 1. 

Bird of paradise


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

General Information

Scientific name: Strelitzia reginae
Pronunciation: strell-LITZ-zee-uh ree-JIN-nee
Common name(s): bird of paradise

Family: Strelitziaceae

Plant type: herbaceous
USDA hardiness zones: 10 through 11 (Fig. 2)
Planting month for zone 10 and 11: year round
Origin: not native to North America
Uses: mass planting; specimen; container or above-ground planter; accent
Availability: generally available in many areas within its hardiness range

Figure 2. 

Shaded area represents potential planting range.


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Description

Height: 3 to 5 feet
Spread: 2 to 4 feet
Plant habit: upright
Plant density: moderate
Growth rate: slow
Texture: coarse

Foliage

Leaf arrangement: most emerge from the soil, usually without a stem
Leaf type: simple
Leaf margin: undulate
Leaf shape: oblong
Leaf venation: pinnate
Leaf type and persistence: evergreen
Leaf blade length: 12 to 18 inches
Leaf color: blue or blue-green
Fall color: no fall color change
Fall characteristic: not showy

Figure 3. 

Foliage of bird of paradise.


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Flower

Flower color: orange-blue
Flower characteristic: spring flowering; summer flowering

Fruit

Fruit shape: irregular
Fruit length: less than .5 inch
Fruit cover: dry or hard
Fruit color: orange
Fruit characteristic: inconspicuous and not showy

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: typically multi-trunked or clumping stems
Current year stem/twig color: not applicable
Current year stem/twig thickness: not applicable

Culture

Light requirement: plant grows in part shade/part sun
Soil tolerances: occasionally wet; clay; sand; acidic; loam; slightly alkaline
Drought tolerance: high
Soil salt tolerances: poor
Plant spacing: 24 to 36 inches

Other

Roots: not applicable
Winter interest: no special winter interest
Outstanding plant: plant has outstanding ornamental features and could be planted more
Invasive potential: not known to be invasive
Pest resistance: long-term health usually not affected by pests

Use and Management

One full-grown specimen makes a dramatic landscape accent, with plants spreading as wide as they are tall. Mass plantings on 3- to 5-foot centers are effective in large gardens. Locate plants in a low-growing ground cover or in front of a shrub border to contrast the blue-green foliage with the green of other shrubs.

Developing into large clumps, bird of paradise needs full sun or high, shifting shade and rich, moisture-retentive soil. Plants should be fertilized regularly during the growing season.

Propagation is by seed or division, although plants seem to flower more freely under crowded conditions and are best left undisturbed. Many nursery operators report that the seeds are difficult to germinate.

Pests and Diseases

Scale is the main pest problem, though grasshoppers may occasionally ruin the foliage.

Footnotes

1.

This document is FPS-563, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date October 1999. Reviewed February 2014. Visit the EDIS website at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.

2.

Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.


The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.