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What’s Blooming in Paradise: Orange Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae)

By Staff | Nov 26, 2014

First impression: Exotic egrethead-in-profile shaped flower of vibrant orange, purple, and red. This blossom is large, measuring 4-5 inches tall and long. Its long-stemmed dark green leaves resemble the shape of banana plants. All growth starts at the base, with flowers on their own stiff stalks. What a show-stopper, any ornithologist would take a second look!

You can see this non-winged wonder in bloom at the Botanical Gardens of the Sanibel Moorings.

Upon further investigation: Orange bird of Paradise is a perennial herb that hails from South Africa. It is grown for its beautiful tropical flowers. Blooming, this tropical plant is a must for cut gardens, with flowers blooming throughout the year.

True to their name, they are an explosion of feather-shaped color, with petals of dark blue, sepals of bright orange, all emerging from a vivid canoe-shaped holder at the end of the stem. Florists the world over love to utilize our star for really beautiful arrangements. In the garden our plant is a naturally shaped shrub with banana-shaped leaves and lovely birds peeking through.

The most common question I receive about our star is why isn’t mine blooming? Here are some considerations: at least 4+ hours of sunlight with regular watering, doesn’t like continual wet feet, and it takes around five years for a plant to mature and bloom. It’s easy to prune, everything connects at the base in a clumping manner, which can grow wider or be divided by a shovel and a little muscle. After blooming, remember to clean out the old blossoms, which will start to smell if left unattended.

Maximum height for this slow grower is 5-6 feet tall, which makes it perfect for patios with a view. You may plant in full sun or filtered shade, and well-drained soil.

Interesting Trivia: Did you know we have several species of bird of paradise? Our orange star is the mot popular garden addition. White Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia nicolai) is a replica that is three times the size with larger white-bird blooms. Travelers Tree (Ravenala madagascariensis) can reach 30 feet and resembles banana leaves in a symmetrical fan with gynormous bird blossoms.

Pros:

Iconic bloom

Great low growing shrub

Likes full sun

Can be divided and planted other places or share with neighbors

Noninvasive

May have bird watcher in your garden

Salt tolerance

Will fill in unsightly areas with little effort

Get rich selling blooms!

Cons:

Needs to be separated periodically

Can get dead foliage/ trim away

Remember to trim away spent blooms

Needs to be watered regularly

Annoying when they don’t bloom

Nonnative

Conclusion: Bring out those binocularsthere are birds blooming in the bushes. No need to worry, they won’t fly away in our tropical, eye-catching garden.

Don’t wanna miss this bloomer!