248 Strelitzia reginaeCommon Names: bird-of-paradise, crane flower Family: Strelitziaceae (bird-of-paradise Family)
The uniquely shaped flower of this exotic tropical perennial resembles a bird's head, and due to it's brilliant orange and blue colors and unique form, it resembles not just any bird but a bird-of-paradise! So not surprisingly Strelitzia reginae is know as the bird-of-paradise flower. It's other common name, crane flower, is another bow to its exotic avian shape. Fantastically handsome flowers aside, this is also a very attractive foliage plant. The paddle-shaped leathery leaves are about 8 inches long and 6 inches wide. Forming massive clumps 3 feet high bird-of-paradise lends a romantic tropical ambiance to the landscape.
Like many of our most flamboyant and fascinating plants, the bird-of-paradise flower is native to South Africa. It was introduced to European gardeners in 1773 when it was part of a shipment of horticultural specimens bound for the Royal Botanical Garden of King George III. Strelitzia reginae was named after the king's wife Queen (reginae in Latin) Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (Strelitzia).
CultureB-o-P's are nutrient hogs - plant in rich acid soil. If your soil is not so great, add rotted manure or time release fertilizer to the hole when planting. Fertilize plants monthly. Dose potted specimens with liquid fertilizer every couple of weeks. Light: Plant in bright sun for the most flowers. Plant in shade for the best looking foliage (note that flowers will be fewer in number). In Florida high shifting shade is a good compromise. Moisture: Provide liberal amounts of water. Reduce amount of water to potted house plants in winter. Hardiness: USDA Zones 9 - 11. This plant is tender and is damaged by frost and freezing temperatures but will recover if ground does not freeze. Propagation: The best way to propagate is by division of clumps. Can be grown from seed as well.
Bird of paradise clumps provide bulk and mass and can be used in the landscape like a small shrub. They serve well anchoring island beds when surrounded by lower growing annuals or ground cover. Use in shrub borders and in planting islands and containers. Makes a showy and non-messy plant at poolside. This beautiful and adaptable beauty is perfect for home and commercial interiors.
Bird-of-paradise is a real eye-catcher, in bloom or not. Whether in the landscape or as cut flowers making star appearances in arrangements, this plant is recognized by most and enjoyed by all. It is inexpensive and widely available, even in non-tropical areas where it does duty as a houseplant. Bird-of-paradise is an icon of the tropics, its image turning up on fabrics, wallpaper, tasteless resort apparel, and assorted works of art both crappy and sublime. As beautiful as some of these may be be, none can compare to the real thing. Find a place in your home or garden so you can enjoy this flamboyant showoff.
Jack Scheper 06/07/97