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Strelitzia reginae is commonly known as the bird of paradise flower. This south African native has glaucous banana-like leaves and bright architectural flowers. It makes a striking addition to your conservatory.
They require regular watering during spring and summer to maintain constant moisture, without saturating the potting media; this should be then gradually reduced during the autumn. From the end of November the root zone should be allowed to become fairly dry between watering. These plants require regular feeding during growing season (April until September in Britain). Apply a liquid feed, sold for using on houseplants, fortnightly.
No pruning is needed, but you can tidy up the plant by cutting off spent, old tatty leaves in the spring. These should be taken back right down to the base with a sharp pair of secateurs.
Strelitzias can be grown from seed, however, it does require a lot of patience.
Propagation from division should produce flower plants much more quickly. This can be done by dividing mature plants or removing rooted suckers and offsets in late February and March.
Strelitzia reginae ‘Kirstenbosch Gold’ (syn. ‘Mandela’s Gold’): This is a rare yellow flowering form that was cultivated and released into the trade by Kirstenbosch National Botanic Garden, south Africa. Height 1.5m (4ft) Spread: 1.5 (4ft)
S. nicolai: Known as the giant white bird of paradise, which reaches giant heights and is only suitable for a conservatory Height: 10m (33ft) spread: 3.5m (12ft)
S. alba: The blooms are completely white as the name suggests and lack the blue flash found on other species. Height 10m (33ft) Spread: 3.5m (12ft)
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Leaf browning and lack of flowering Slow growth, browning of leaf-tips and edges, leaf deformities and failure to flower are all signs that the growing conditions are not suitable. Check that there is suitable humidity and that the plant has been regularly watered and fed.
Leaf shredding When growing specimens outside ensure that they are placed in a sheltered spot. In a windy site the leaves will become shredded and tatty.
Pests Strelitzia’s suffer from the typical glasshouse pests including scale insect, glasshouse red spider mite and mealybug. There are plenty of places for these pests to hide within the crown and the leaf axils, so regularly check for them.
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