How to care for a Strelitzia plant (Bird of Paradise)

Strelitzia Reginae or Bird of Paradise plants are highly sought after tropical plants that look amazing in any home. The giant leaves are amazing to look at. And if you're lucky you'll find one that is flowering, too! Bird of Paradise plants usually flower once a year in summer but its common not to flower at all in the first few years of its life.

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  • Frequent
  • Once every two years
  • Bright spot near a window
  • Slightly toxic
  • Once every two weeks in summer

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  • The Strelitzia originates in the lush forests of South Africa and is related to the banana plant. This plant has been in living rooms since the eighteenth century. The plant is named after the wife of King George III, named Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, who had a great love for flowers and plants. The Strelitzia is also a symbol of freedom and immortality.
  • The Strelitzia is not the best when it comes to purifying the air. But because of its huge leaves, it has an advantage over its fellow house plants. To note: the more leaf surface a plant has, the more oxygen it can produce!
  • The flowers and fruits of Strelitzia Reginae can be slightly toxic to pets. The Strelitzia Nicolai however, does not produce flowers and is therefore non toxic.
  • Strelitzias are quite thirsty and require generous sips of water. During Summer give these plants a fair amount of water at least once a week and make sure the soil is always moist. You can allow the soil to dry a bit more in winter before watering. As with most plants be careful to ensure that there is never any standing water at the base of the pot. This can cause root rot which is hard to come back from.
  • The Strelitzia will feel most comfortable in super light areas. Close to a window, then, is a perfect place. It's a win-win situation: The sun will shine wonderfully on its leaves while it can show its beautiful jungle look to everyone who passes by! Strelitzias can stand a bit of colder weather no problem, but not enough light is a real problem.
  • The Strelitzia needs a lot of energy, especially in the summer. It is therefore advisable to give the plant extra nutrition during these months. Adding some liquid food to the water of the Strelitzia once every two weeks is perfect. In the winter you don't need to feed it at all because the plant will be in its resting period.
  • You know it's repotting time when the Strelitzia literally grows out of its pot. This usually happens every 2 years. When repotting, keep in mind that the new pot is about 20% wider than the previous pot. That way your Strelitzia has enough room to keep that growth going.
  • The leaves of the Strelitizia tear quickly; this is normal and not a bad thing. It may not look exactly like those instagram pictures you saw before you bought one but this is a normal process for the Strelitzias. The outer leaves and edges can turn brown over time. This too, is a natural process that, unfortunately, can't be helped. Simply cut off any brown dots or cut the leaf stems about 2 cm above the base. The Strelitiza Nicolai doesn't blossom quickly. It must reach a good size before it starts to bloom. If it does start to bloom, it won't be coloured flowers, but large black and white flowers, unlike its regal sister the Strelitzia Reginea.
  • The Strelitzia is a strong plant and therefore does not suffer much from diseases. However, just like any other plant, spider mites or mealybugs can be problematic if there is low humidity or too much draft. Try to spray the leaves with water twice a month, especially in winter. This gives the plant the required humidity to ward off diseases.

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