Botanical Name — Strelitzia nicolai
Common Name — giant white bird of paradise, crane flower
Plant Family — Strelitziaceae
Strelitzia nicolai is a large, lush plant native to the tropical regions of South Africa. This species is the largest in the genus, capable of reaching up to 10 meters in height. Plants of the Strelitzia genus are known for their large, crane-shaped flowers. The striking color and overall appearance of these blooms have been likened to the vibrant displays of male birds of paradise. Unlike other bird of paradise species that have pink, orange, and yellow inflorescences, Strelitzia nicolai is known for its deep blue and creamy white flowers. The leaves of this plant will often split. These fenestrations are normal and occur frequently in nature, giving flexibility to leaves and branches when the wind blows and allowing light to reach the lower leaves on the plant.
- Strelitzia nicolai requires very bright conditions. Full sun to light shade is ideal for these plants.
- Strelitzia nicolai does well in warm weather. Ideal temperatures range between 65 and 70 ºF. They are hardy up to 24 ºF, although they will start to suffer some frost damage at consistently low temperatures. Bird of paradise plants also prefer high humidity. Mist plants daily or place them near a humidifier to maintain ambient moisture.
- During the spring and summer, keep your bird of paradise’s soil lightly moist but never soggy.
- In the winter, when temperatures drop and growth is significantly slowed, the frequency of watering should be reduced. Soil should be allowed to dry out before watering thoroughly.
- Bird of paradise plants to best in fertile, nutrient-rich, well-draining soil. A high-quality potting mix would be great for this plant.
- Coco coir added up to 25%, is a great amendment that will improve moisture retention and soil structure.
- Compost, added up to 25% is another great amendment that acts as a gentle fertilizer. Mix it in with soil medium or topdress soil with a 1-2” thick layer for a slow release of nutrients into the soil.
- Strelitzia nicolai plants bloom once they reach maturity, which can take several years. In warm, tropical regions their bloom season is typically September through May, with flowers blossoming intermittently throughout the summer.
- These plants are known for their stunning, colorful flowers, though they are unlikely to bloom indoors due to lack of adequate sunlight. Birds of paradise require at least four to six hours of full sun, plenty of humidity, and consistent moisture to bloom.
- During the growing season bird of paradise plants will benefit from a nutrient boost supplied by fertilizer. Feed your plant with a balanced liquid fertilizer twice during the growing season, once at the start of spring and again at the start of summer.
- These plants can be propagated by division. Use a clean, sharp blade to separate a fan making sure that there are plenty of roots attached. Plant each division into a clean pot with high-quality potting soil.
- Very large plants can be difficult to divide. It may be easier to purchase a new plant then attempting to divide a very large plant.
- Bird of paradise plants are not especially susceptible to any pests or diseases. Root rot is one of the most common concerns and is often caused by overwatering. Keep an eye out for common houseplant pests such as mealybugs, aphids, and spider mites.
- Bird of paradise plants do not require much maintenance to thrive. Dry air or underwatering may cause leaf tips to brown. These will not cause harm to the plant but can be pruned to keep the plant looking its best.
- Rotate your plant once a week to ensure even growth on all sides. Dust can collect on the leaves and clog pores, hindering photosynthesis. Regularly wipe the leaves with a microfiber cloth to remove dust.
- These plants like to be rootbound, as this will encourage flowering. Still, bird of paradise plants are fast-growing plants under ideal conditions and can start to suffer when they are too root-bound. If roots are growing out of the soil surface or through drainage holes in the pot, or if you notice the container starting to bulge due to the expansion of roots, it is a good idea to repot into a new container. Select a pot that is 2-3” wider in diameter to give the plant plenty of room to grow.
- Strelitzia nicolai is toxic to pets, especially fruit and seeds. Ingestion of the plant can cause gastrointestinal discomfort. Keep this plant out of reach of animals.