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What’s Blooming in Paradise: Orange bird of paradise hails from South Africa

By Staff | Jan 20, 2016

The Bird of Paradise blooms throughout the year. PHOTO BY ANITA FORCE MARSHALL

Plant Subject: Orange Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae)

First impression: Exotic egret head 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. 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. Here in Southwest Florida we grow it for its quintessential 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. The petals of dark blue; sepals of bright orange, and all emerging from a vivid canoe shaped holder at the end of the stem. All over the world, florist 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 plus 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. 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 most 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:

Great low growing shrub

Likes full sun

Can be divided and share with neighbors

Non invasive

May have bird watcher in your garden

Salt tolerance

Get rich selling blooms

Cons:

Needs to be separated periodically

Remember to trim away spent blooms

Needs to be watered regularly

Annoying when they don’t bloom

Non native

Conclusion: Bring out those binoculars-there 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!