The Strelizia sets the scene with unsurpassed elegance and tropical blaze of colour. Wherever she unfolds her orange-blue flowers, accompanied by boat-shaped, deep green leaves, she spreads a paradisiacal flair. Proper cultivation proves both exciting and challenging. It is up to you to decide whether the bird of paradise blossoms on the balcony in summer or ennobles the winter garden during the cold season. On top of that, the flower has the potential to create a holiday feeling in offices and living spaces all year round.
Table of Contents
- Popular species within the genus Strelitzia (Strelitzia)
- Name of the species: Strelizia reginae
- Trivialname: Paradiesvogelblume
- Native to South Africa
- Growth height 80 to 150 cm, rarely up to 200 cm
- Evergreen, herbaceous plant with a branched rhizome
- Orange-blue flowers either in summer or winter
- Minimum temperature: 0 degrees Celsius
- Other names: King Strelicia, Queen Strelicia, parrot flower
The choice of location essentially defines the time frame over which the blooming splendor of a Strelizia extends. The following overview provides all relevant general conditions with regard to light and temperature conditions:
Prerequisites for a summer flowering period
Although the Strelitzia can endure a short-term minimum temperature of 0 degrees Celsius, it only moves to its place outdoors when the temperatures constantly exceed the 10 degree mark. It is not uncommon for an adult plant to develop its first flower stalks as early as January. Nevertheless, be patient and do not expose the tropical flower to the Central European climate prematurely.
- From April/May on the sunny south-facing balcony or in the potted garden on the south side of the house
- Warm location, likes to be washed by the wind
- Summer heat build-up is tolerated
At this location, the flowers open in May at the latest and last until August/September or even October.
Conditions for a winter flowering period
So that a Strelitzia adorns the conservatory from August to February/March or ensures a motivating working atmosphere in offices, choose these location conditions:
- Sunny, very bright spot with at least 4-6 hours of sunlight daily
- Protect behind glass from the blazing midday sun with curtains or awnings
- Warm room temperatures between 20-25 degrees Celsius
On cloudy days, a plant lamp is ideally available to compensate for the lack of light. While appropriate lighting is naturally provided in offices, a light source should be installed above the light-hungry plant in the living room.
watering and fertilizing
The professional water balance of a Strelizia requires a sure instinct in the truest sense of the word. During the vegetation phase, the tropical plant prefers a slightly moist substrate with intermittent drying. Therefore, check the moisture content of the soil daily with a thumb test by pressing a finger into it. If the top 3-5 cm feel dry, there is a need for watering. Slowly pour the water onto the root ball until the first drops run out of the bottom opening into the saucer. Pour out the water collected in it after 10 minutes. The substrate should dry again before the next watering process. Only use soft water to keep the pH of the substrate at a low level.
Align the nutrient supply with the flowering period. If a Strelizie is in the limelight on the balcony throughout the summer, fertilize the plant every 14 days from April to October. If you prefer a winter flowering period, however, the flower receives a supplementary supply of nutrients every 30 days from November to March. Spare the sensitive bird of paradise flower from the concentrated nutrient load of a complete fertilizer. Ideally, you should use an organic or mineral-organic liquid fertilizer. Alternatively, specialist retailers offer special products in stick or powder form.
If possible, do not attack your Strelizie with scissors. The sensitive tropical beauty thrives magnificently without a care and maintenance cut. The only exceptions are withered blossoms and withered leaves. Parallel to the young leaves sprouting, the oldest specimens die off at the outer edge. Ideally, you wait until you can finally pluck them off. Experience has shown that a small amount of plant residue remains after a cut, which can cause rot.
While the Strelizia boasted its blooms on the balcony, terrace or in the garden throughout the summer, falling temperatures put an end to the spectacle. As soon as the mercury falls permanently below the 10 degree mark, admit the plant. It is an advantage if the bird of paradise flower can now rest for a while. Healthy hibernation is successful under these conditions:
- In the bright place at temperatures of 12-15 degrees Celsius
- The tropical plant does not survive a dark hibernation
- Water less and don’t fertilize
If no cool winter quarters are available, place the Queen Strelicia in a bright location with temperatures between 20 and 22 degrees Celsius. Under these general conditions, there is a slightly higher need for watering. Fertilizer is not given. Only if the plant stays in the tropically warm conservatory all year round does the normal care protocol continue seamlessly during the cold season; apart from a reduced application of fertilizer every 30 days.
Until a queen Strelizia has reached its final height, repotting is on the maintenance program every 1-2 years. Subject the root ball to an inspection at the end of the winter dormancy. When the bucket is fully rooted, the flower finally moves to a larger container. The top premise for a successful course is the largely intactness of the rhizomes. If injuries occur here, the bird of paradise flower indignantly refuses to flower this year. How to do it right:
- In the new bucket, create a drainage above the bottom opening using broken pottery
- Spread an air- and water-permeable fleece over it so that the material does not muddy
- Fill in a first layer of loose potting soil to make a well in it with your fist
- Carefully unpot the Strelizia and clean the discarded substrate
- Plant in the new pot while maintaining the previous planting depth
Fill in the gaps with fresh substrate so that a pouring edge of 2-3 cm remains. Finally, press down the soil with your hands or a stick. Water the plant with soft water until the tray fills up. In order for the King’s Strelicia to recover from the stress, it stays in a partially shaded location for the next 8 days. The nutrient reserves in the pre-fertilized substrate are sufficient for 4-6 weeks, so that the first fertilization is only carried out after this period has expired.
Propagation by Kindel
An adult and vital Strelizia produces leafy side shoots that are excellent for propagation. A good time for this measure is early spring, when repotting is on the agenda anyway. How to proceed step by step:
- Repot the plant to shake off the substrate or remove it with a light spray
- Use a sharp, disinfected knife to cut off side shoots with at least 2 leaves
- Plant each child in a pot with emaciated substrate
- Put the offshoots no deeper into the ground than before and water them
- Put on a transparent hood and place in a bright, not full sun location
The warm, humid microclimate under the cover promotes rooting. Keep the substrate constantly moist with soft water at room temperature. Once the young plant has fully rooted the seed tray, repot it into a larger pot of normal soil for adult Strelizia. Although the plant prefers full sun, it should be gradually acclimated to this light to avoid sunburn.
The cultivation of a Strelizia by sowing is undoubtedly one of the special challenges for a hobby gardener. The propagation technique itself is easier to master than having to wait for years until the first flowering. Strelizien friends who are keen to experiment proceed as follows:
- Soak the pea-sized seeds in lukewarm water or camomile tea for 24 hours
- Place a shard of pottery over the water drain in each growing pot as drainage
- Fill in the substrate up to a small pouring edge
- Press a seed 2-3 cm deep into the soil in each pot
Water each seed pot from below. To do this, fill a larger bowl with soft water and place the pots in it. Due to the capillary force, the water rises. If the substrate surface is moistened, take the vessels out of the water. For the coming weeks and months, place the seeds in a heated indoor greenhouse. For a successful course, continuous heat of 25-30 degrees is required, which, as a rule, is not guaranteed on the windowsill. Keep the substrate constantly moist without completely wetting it. After 8 to 10 weeks you administer a diluted liquid fertilizer for the first time and then continue this nutrient supply in a 2-week cycle. When a seedling has rooted through its pot, repot it in normal adult Strelizia substrate.
With breathtaking flower power, the Strelizia spreads paradisiacal flair on the balcony, in the conservatory or in living and working rooms. In order for the floral treasure to put on its tropical blossoms over many months, it needs a sunny, warm location, supplemented with a balanced water and nutrient balance.