With bright yellow colors and an exotic touch: This is how the bird of paradise flower, also known as the “parrot flower”, presents itself. The decorative plant with its bizarre appearance, which thrives mainly in Madaira and the Canary Islands, is grown as a cut flower for export. The naming of the parrot flower can be explained by the particularly shaped flowers that the plant develops. The petals protrude from a shell that resembles a beak. The plant is called the bird of paradise flower because its bright colors make it look very exotic; the color palette of the flowers ranges from yellow and light red tones to blue nuances.
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Depending on the season, the bird of paradise flower prefers different locations. From spring to summer, the plant prefers an airy and sunny place; even moderate penumbra is tolerated. The plant thrives at temperatures between 10 and 25°C. The plant can be cultivated outdoors between the beginning of June and the end of September, for example on the balcony or terrace.
Above all, it should be ensured that the plant is sufficiently bright. Locations facing south or west are particularly suitable. During the first few days, the bird of paradise flower should initially be in a shady place; this practice causes a certain hardening that allows the plant to better tolerate being outside during the summer months. However, you should change the location after a few days and choose a sunny place for the bird of paradise flower, since staying in shady locations can lead to reduced flowering.
This also prevents the leaves from wilting too quickly. If, on the other hand, the plant is kept indoors, sufficient humidity must also be ensured; in addition, brief and vigorous ventilation at regular intervals is then required. The bird of paradise flower is not hardy and does not tolerate frost; the plant must therefore be brought indoors at the beginning of autumn. A cool and bright room is then chosen as winter quarters.
In addition to the optimal location, the choice of substrate is also important for good growth of the bird of paradise flower. The earth should have certain properties:
- wet consistency
- well permeable to water and air
- loamy, gritty properties
Conventional potting soil as well as special mixtures are suitable as a substrate. This includes a mix of leaves, garden soil and coarse gravel. All ingredients are mixed together in equal parts. The addition of 10% charcoal has also proven itself. In order to prevent waterlogging, it has proven useful to also place the substrate on a sandy subsoil.
watering and fertilization
During the summer months, the bird of paradise flower needs to be watered regularly. Large plants in particular need sufficient moisture. Watering must be done in such a way that the soil is always kept slightly moist. However, the next watering is only carried out when the top layer of soil has dried a little. The bird of paradise flower is watered daily during the summer months, especially when it is very hot. Cold tap water should never be used for this; In addition, the water is always tempered before watering.
While the plants are watered generously in summer, they should only be watered moderately in the cold season. If the plant is in the hibernation phase, the soil can dry well before the next watering. The restrained watering behavior in winter is particularly important for the early development of new flowers. However, the plant must not dry out completely; Prolonged drought damages the plant, as does waterlogging. For this reason, excess water that is still in the coaster must always be discarded.
In order for the bird of paradise flower to thrive optimally, fertilizer should also be used once a week in summer. Certain aspects must be observed for targeted fertilization:
- Liquid fertilizer works best
- Alternative: fertilizer sticks
- Keep the amount of fertilizer small overall
- Stop fertilizing in winter
Over-fertilization must be avoided at all costs; the supply of additional nutrients leads to improved growth of the leaves. – However, this is at the expense of flowering, which is then all the more reserved.
In order to optimally care for the bird of paradise flower, the plant should be repotted at intervals of about three years. In many cases, the right time for this measure can be read from the plant itself; Specimens that develop poorly usually sit in a pot with a lot of roots. The small space leads to the fact that the plant begins to wither. Therefore, the plant is then placed in a larger flower pot or in a bucket. Ideally, repotting should take place after flowering, i.e. in spring or summer. However, if there is a need for more space in the near future, moving to another pot before flowering is also possible. However, repotting should not be done too often overall, as the fleshy roots of the bird of paradise flower are very sensitive and break quickly.
The plant does not need to be cut. However, it may be necessary to thin out the leaves from below. First aid can be provided with this measure, especially if the pot is too narrow. In addition, you should regularly remove wilting leaves and flowers from the plant and the flower pot or tub. Under no circumstances should the plant be cut back radically.
Hibernation – this is how it works
During the cold season, the bird of paradise flower is in hibernation. Since the plant is not winter hardy and does not tolerate frost, you should bring it indoors when the temperatures start to drop. Hibernation takes place at temperatures between 10 and 15°C; The plant feels particularly comfortable in the stairwell or other shady places during the cold season. If the temperature during the winter is around 14°C, the bird of paradise flower can already be expected to bloom towards the end of winter. Alternatively, the plant can overwinter in a living room that is not too warm. However, the plant becomes more sensitive to such overwintering over the years. Then you have to pay special attention to an infestation with pests.
propagation and sowing
The propagation of the bird of paradise flower can be done very easily by seeds. However, this method of propagation requires patience, as the plant that develops from the seeds can take up to six years to flower. The seeds obtained from the plant should be processed quickly and not stored for too long, as their ability to germinate quickly decreases. In addition, it should be noted that older seeds germinate poorly. If the cultivation of the seeds is done indoors, the propagation ispossible all year round. In order to optimally prepare the seeds for cultivation, they should first be washed well. Soapy water is best for this. This process removes the layer of wax that is on the surface of the seeds. Then the seeds are scalded with hot water to stimulate the germ and soaked in water for about twelve hours. Pretreated in this way, the seeds can be used. Certain criteria should be observed for optimal cultivation:
- Growth medium: Mixture of seed soil or sand with potting soil in a ratio of 1:1
- Temperatures: 24-25°C
- Keep heat and humidity even
The seeds are scattered on the moist potting soil and covered with a thin layer of substrate. The germination period is up to six weeks. During this time, care must be taken to ensure adequate watering. However, good drainage is necessary to avoid waterlogging. After germination, the seedlings are transplanted. Now the plant thrives best in a mixture of strong Mullerde, leaf compost and coarse gravel.
The propagation of the bird of paradise flower can also be done easily by dividing a plant. Spring is particularly good for this when the plant is being repotted anyway. Small saws are available for optimal division. Plant lovers in particular who do not want to wait several years for the bird of paradise flower to bloom prefer this type of propagation.
Numerous diseases that affect the bird of paradise flower arise due to care errors. For example, the leaves curl up if the plant is not sufficiently watered in summer. On the other hand, excessive watering in winter can lead to root rot. If such symptoms appear on the plant, the watering behavior must be adjusted immediately. Numerous hobby gardeners also complain about the lack of flowering. Various reasons can be held responsible for this phenomenon:
- Location too dark
- Location too cold during hibernation
- fertilization too intensive (especially with older plants); only leaf growth is promoted
- Injuring the root when repotting
If the roots were damaged during repotting, the bent areas should be cut off. A sharp knife is best for this, with which you can make a clean cut. The interfaces are then treated with charcoal powder.
In addition to diseases caused mainly by mistakes in care, the development of the plant can also be impaired due to fungi and pests. This includes, above all, the infestation of scale insects. The pest spreads particularly quickly if the plant is in a location with low humidity and if there is also a regular ventilation phase. The damage is characterized by cover- or cup-shaped circular shields that can be seen on the leaves between sticky honeydew. The female scale insects suck the sap of the plant, which can damage them. To ward off the pests, the shields should be removed with a toothbrush. Spraying with certain oils (e.g. paraffin oil or rapeseed oil) is also recommended.
In addition to the scale insect infestation, the bird of paradise flower often suffers from the damage caused by the harmful fungus Botrytis cinerea. Various symptoms present themselves as a harmful fungus, which can be summarized under the phenomenon of gray mold. A mouse-grey, heavily dusting fungus lawn forms, especially on the leaves, which softens the leaves. This can be remedied by a targeted fungicide. Affected plant parts must be removed immediately. However, targeted prevention is better, which can be done, for example, by administering horsetail extracts. In addition, attention should be paid to optimal care conditions; an airy location and a permeable location minimize the risk of the harmful fungus appearing.