HOW TO GROW BIRDS OF PARADISE
HOW TO GROW BIRDS OF PARADISE INDOORS
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If you've fallen in love with bird of paradise plants but live in a cold climate, you can grow these tropical beauties indoors as houseplants.
With enough sunlight and the right conditions, the plant will put on a vibrant display of flowers, bringing an atmosphere of tropical bliss to your home interior.
Here in Alaska, I sure could use a little tropical flair inside my home during the winter. Even if the flowers don't bloom as prolifically as they would outside, you've got luscious, green, banana-leaf-like foliage to enjoy all winter.
In this guide, we will share everything you need to know to successfully grow birds of paradise indoors.
The largest species like S. nicolai or S. alba They grow up to 30 feet tall, making them difficult to grow in your home unless you live in a mansion with a huge, well-lit lobby.
Since most of us don't have this luxury, be sure to choose the common bird of paradise, S. reginae , which only grows up to six feet tall.
If you buy a plant from the store that is in a nursery pot, the first thing to do is transplant it.
Find a pot that is at least 12 inches wide and deep if you have a smaller plant. For a larger plant, choose a container that is at least 34 inches deep and wide.
You will need to make sure there are holes in the bottom for drainage and since you are growing it indoors you will need a drain plate to make sure the water doesn't seep all over the floor.
To transplant, fill the container with two parts potting soil and one part perlite to improve drainage, carefully lift the plant from the nursery pot and place it in the new pot.
Don't plant your bird of paradise too deeply. Exposing the tops of the roots can help stimulate flowering.
After transplanting, water the plant until you see the drainage dripping into the drain pan and place it next to the sunniest window possible.
If you bring your plant outdoors indoors during the winter months, learn how to plant it in our guide to winter care for birds of paradise .
CARING FOR YOUR INDOOR PLANT
Bird of paradise plants will not tolerate oversaturated soils, so you will need to be careful with watering.
To avoid getting your feet wet, allow the top two inches of soil to dry out between waterings. During the winter months, the plant will be semi-dormant and less frequent watering is required.
And no matter what, avoid water that is high in salt content, as this can burn the leaves. If necessary, use filtered water or collect rain or snow water to melt.
When grown as houseplants, birds of paradise can be fertilized more often than plants grown in the garden.
You can fertilize every two weeks with a 10-10-10 balanced liquid fertilizer (NPK) in the spring and once a week in the summer. Don't fertilize them in the fall or winter, when growth slows.
In the summer, you can choose to move your plants outside to a sunny or semi-shady location when daytime temperatures consistently exceed 70 ° F.
Be careful to bring the plant into the sun gradually, or the foliage could get sunburned. Leave it outside for an hour the first day, two hours the next, over the course of a week or ten days until it is outside all day.
Bring the plant back in when daytime temperatures begin to drop below 60 ° F.
Turn it on for three hours in the morning before the sun rises and three hours after it sets, or it stops shining out the window. As well as keeping the plant happy, this gives it a better chance of blooming.
You can replace the top layer of soil annually and transplant into a slightly larger container if desired.
Keep in mind that mature bird of paradise plants tend to bloom best if they are loosely attached to the roots, so allowing them to stay in the same container for a couple of years can help them bloom. To replace the top layer of soil, gently remove the top two inches with a hand trowel and add two inches of fresh potting mix.
And one final note: do not use a leaf shine product on these plants. This could damage the natural finish of the sheets. To keep the sheets clean, wipe off the dust with a damp towel every week or two.
Be on the lookout for pests like mites or aphids . You can remove them by hand or use insecticidal soap or neem oil.
IMITATE A TROPICAL CLIMATE
Bird of Paradise is a gift to the world from South Africa and grows happily in Florida, Jamaica, Southern California and Hawaii.
If you live in a not so tropical place, you will need to imitate a hot and humid climate for your S. reginae .
Plants prefer night temperatures of 50-55 ° F and temperatures of 70-75 ° F during the day, so don't set your thermostat too low during the colder months.
They also prefer around 60 percent humidity, so you need to spray the plants daily, especially during the winter months.
AN INNER PARADISE
If you have trouble with the absence of greenery in your area during the winter, growing a bird of paradise (or two) indoors can remind you of warmer days and lift your spirits. Or maybe, like me, you just love the idea of growing a showy houseplant indoors year-round.
Especially when it blooms with those amazing bird-like flowers. That will enliven your interior decoration like nothing else.
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