White Bird of Paradise Plant (Strelitzia nicolai) Care, Propagation, Problems and Remedies


White Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia nicolai) or Giant Bird of Paradise Plant is perennial plant which bears paddle-shaped, grey-green leaves which are arranged like a fan at the top of the stems.

Giant Bird of Paradise is frost-tender below 00C and is suited for the warmer climates. In the US, the plant is a common landscape plant in California and Florida where there is no threat of frost. It is ideal for USDA zones 10-11.

In colder climates, White Bird of Paradise can be grown in containers which can be taken inside during the harsh winter weather where they can be sheltered from frost.

Giant Bird of Paradise can also be grown as an indoor plant if adequate light can be provided as it requires bright light with some direct sunshine to bloom.

White Bird of Paradise Plant is a clumping plant which requires a large space to grow away from buildings as the roots are invasive.

White Bird of Paradise Plant, Strelitzia nicolai

Botanical name: Strelitzia nicolai
Family: Streltiziaceae
Common names: White Bird of Paradise Plant, Giant Bird of Paradise Plant, Wild Banana

Origin

Strelitzia nicolai (White Bird of Paradise Plant) is native to the evergreen coastal forest and thickets of eastern South Africa, Mozambique, Botswana and Zimbabwe. It has been naturalized in eastern Mexico.

Size

Giant Bird of Paradise Plant can grow to a height of about 20-30 ft and 6-10 ft wide outdoors and in its natural habitat. Indoors, it grows to about 6-7 ft high and 3-5 ft wide. The evergreen leaves are about 3.5 ft wide.

Flower

Giant Bird of Paradise Plant inflorescence comprises of dark-blue bract, white sepals and a bluish-purple 'tongue'. The plant may take up to 4-5 years to mature and begin blooming. The flowers develop into triangular seed capsules.

The inflorescence is about 7 in. high by 18. long and is held at a point above where the leaf fan emerges from the stem.

White Bird of Paradise flower symbolizes joy, freedom, excitement, anticipation and paradise. The flower also represents love, faithfulness and thoughtfulness. It is the official flower of the 9th wedding anniversary in Hawaiian culture.

Toxicity

Giant Bird of Paradise Plant is mildly toxic to humans and pets. If ingested, it can cause mouth and stomach irritation. Keep the plant away from children and pets.

Related Plants

Strelitzia nicolai is the largest species in the Strelitzia genus. The related species include Strelitzia reginae (Bird of Paradise Plant), Strelitzia caudata and Strelitzia alba aka Strelitzia augusta.

Where to Buy

White Bird of Paradise Plants are a great addition to any plant collection. The Plants are available online. Below are our recommendations.

Strelitzia nicolai Care Indoors

White Bird of Paradise Plant (Strelitzia nicolai) flourishes in bright light with 6-8 hours of direct sunshine, average warmth, humid conditions and consistently moist, fertile, well-drained soil coupled with monthly feeding during the growing season.

Giant Bird of Paradise Plant requires repotting every 3 years when pot-bound as they bloom best when the roots are confined.

Pruning is needed to keep the plant neat and also discourage pest and disease infestations. Keep on reading for more on these growing conditions and how to achieve them.

White Bird of Paradise Plant, Strelitzia nicolai

Light Requirements

White Bird of Paradise Plant grows best under bright light with at least 6-8 hours of direct sunshine. Rotate the pot regularly to ensure that the plant receives light on all sides for uniform growth.

If the plant does not get adequate light, it will grow slowly and will not bloom. Therefore, place the plant next to a very bright window or a brightly lit place.

Where the natural light is too little, consider investing in a grow light. Check out these full spectrum grow lights on Amazon.

Outdoors Giant Bird of Paradise can be grown under direct sunlight but it needs to protected from too hot sunshine. Do not expose the plant to direct sunlight before acclimatizing it as it can lead to sunburn marks (brown leaf spots).

Water Requirements

Water White Bird of Paradise Plant deeply during the growing season and keep the soil moist while allowing the top 1-2 in. of soil to dry out between waterings.

Decrease watering during the cold season to maintain the soil slightly moist as growth is minimal at this time but do not allow the soil to dry out completely.

Use water that is at room temperature to water Giant Bird of Paradise to avoid shocking this tropical plant.

The water should also be chlorine-free as the plant is sensitive to chlorine and other chemicals dissolved in water and it responds with brown speckled leaf marks.

Make sure that the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy as it can lead to root-rot which is indicated by yellowing and droopy leaves.

Temperature and Humidity

White Bird of Paradise Plant thrives in average warmth between 18-270C with a minimum of 130C. Keep it away from both hot and cold drafts like air vents, radiators, heaters, windy doors and windows among others.

White Bird of Paradise Plant requires humid conditions inorder to thrive. Set the pot on a wet pebble tray or use a cool mist humidifier to raise humidity as low humidity will result in brown, crispy leaf tips and edges. Read more on how to raise humidity for houseplants.

Once in a while, clean the leaves by damp-wiping with a soft cloth to get rid of dust to ensure adequate surface area for light absorption and also minimize pests infestation.

Potting Soil

The best soil for White Bird of Paradise Plant should be acidic, rich in organic matter and free-draining to prevent it from getting soggy while providing the required nutrients.

Most multi-purpose potting mixes are ideal for this plant. Buy quality Potting Mix from Amazon.

Fertilizer

Feed Strelitzia nicolai with a phosphorous-rich, water-soluble fertilizer monthly during the growing season to promote flowering.

Do not feed Giant Bird of Paradise during the cold season as growth is minimal at this time therefore the plant does not need it. Excess feeding can result in brown speckled leaf markings.

Regularly, flush out accumulated salts (which may have arisen from the water or fertilizers) from the soil by running for a few minutes a steady stream of water through the soil until it comes out through the drainage holes. Repeat the process several times.

Repotting

Repot the young White Bird of Paradise Plants at the beginning of the growing season in a pot one size larger than the current one to provide adequate space for growth.

The mature Giant Bird of Paradise Plants require repotting every 3 years as the plant prefers to be root-bound to enhance flowering.

Ensure that the pot has a drainage hole and that the soil is free-draining soil to prevent it from getting soggy as it can lead to root-rot disease. Take a look at these Pots with Multi Mesh Drainage Holes on Amazon.

White Bird of Paradise Plant Outdoor Care

White Bird of Paradise can be grown outdoors in the warm climates (USDA Zones 10-11) where there is no threat of frost, though it can tolerate upto -20C for a short period without much damage.

Grow White Bird of Paradise Plant in full sun to light shade. However, protect the plant from harsh hot sunshine to prevent scorching (brown leaf spots).

Where the summers are very hot, grow Giant Bird of Paradise Plant in a shaded spot or in containers which can be easily moved to a shaded area when the sun is too hot.

Plant the White Bird of Paradise Plant in a sheltered place away from strong winds as they cause the leaves to be torn and ragged.

Ensure that the soil is well-drained and rich in organic matter. Avoid heavy clay soils as they retain too much water which can lead to root-rot and death of the plant.

Keep the soil moist through out the growing season while allowing the top 1-2 in. of soil to dry out between waterings for optimum growth but avoid soggy soil. Cut down on watering during the cold season as growth is reduced at this time.

Fertilize White Bird of Paradise Plant with a phosphorous-rich, fertilizer monthly during the growing season to enhance flowering.

Withhold fertilizer during the cold season as growth is reduced at this time and excess fertilizer can lead to brown speckled leaf markings.

Provide adequate space for Giant Bird of Paradise Plant as it is a large clumping plant. Keep it away from buildings as the roots are invasive.

Pruning

Pruning White Bird of Paradise Plant involves removal of dead blooms and yellow leaves to maintain the plant neat as well as discourage pest and disease infestations. Cut the dead leaves at the base with sharp knife or a pair of scissors.

Always use sterilized tools to prune your plants to minimize cross-contamination. Ensure that the cutting tool is sharp enough inorder to make clean cuts to avoid unnecessary injuries which can lead to disease infestations.

Propagation

White Bird of Paradise Plant (Strelitzia nicolai) propagation can be done at the beginning of the growing season from seeds or by plant division at repotting time.

How to propagate White Bird of Paradise Plant from seeds

Sow the White Bird of Paradise Plant seeds about 0.5-1 in. deep in moist free-draining soil.

Cover the set up with clear polythene to create warm and humid conditions to hasten germination and establishment of the plants.

Place the set up in a warm, brightly-lit place and maintain the soil moist thorough out and avoid soggy soil as it can cause rotting.

Germination should occur in about 8 weeks. Allow the Strelitzia nicolai to be well established before transplanting after which you can begin routine care.

How to Propagate Plant White Bird of Paradise by plant division

During repotting, divide the mother White Bird of Paradise Plant into several sections while ensuring each divison has some roots to hasten establishment.

Pot the sections in moist, free-draining soil in individual pots.

Place the set up in a well-lit place and maintain the soil moist until new growth emerges on the sections.

Ensure that the crown of the sections is above the soil level to avoid rotting.

Allow the new Strelitzia nicolai to be well established before transplanting after which you can begin routine care.

White Bird of Paradise Plant, Strelitzia nicolai

Strelitzia nicolai Growing Problems

White Bird of Paradise Plant (Strelitzia nicolai) problems include brown leaf tips and edges, yellow leaves, drooping, leaf spots and marks, lack of blooms, pests and diseases among others. Read on for more on these problems and how to fix them.

No blooms

There are two possible causes of lack of blooms in White Bird of Paradise Plant. One possible cause is too little (inadequate) light as it blooms best under bright light with 6-8 hours of direct sunlight.

Move the Giant Bird of Paradise to a brighter spot where it will receive bright light with 6-8 hours of direct sunshine but away from harsh direct sunshine. If the natural lighting is not adequate, instal grow lights to supplement it.

The second possible cause of lack of blooms in White Bird of Paradise Plant is underfeeding. Feed the plant monthly with a phosphorous-rich, water-soluble fertilizer during the growing season to promote flowering.

Drooping leaves and stems

There are four possible causes of drooping leaves and stems in White Bird of Paradise Plant. One possible cause is too dry air (low humidity).

White Bird of Paradise Plant grows best in humid conditions. Set the pot on a wet pebble tray or use a cool mist humidifier to raise humidity.

The second possible cause of drooping leaves and stems in Giant Bird of Paradise Plant is incorrect watering; either underwatering or overwatering.

Maintain the soil moist during the growing season while allowing the top 1-2 in. of soil to dry out between waterings.

Cut down on watering during the cold season to keep the soil slightly moist but do not allow the soil ball to dry out completely.

The third possible cause of drooping leaves and stems in Giant Bird of Paradise is too high temperature due to exposure to direct sunlight or hot air (hot drafts).

Shield the White Bird of Paradise Plant from direct sunlight by use of a light curtain to filter the light and keep it away from hot air vents or any heat source.

The fourth possible cause of drooping leaves and stems in Giant Bird of Paradise Plant is pests and diseases infestation.

Regularly inspect the plant for diseases and pests and take appropriate control measures for these pests and diseases.

The common pests in White Bird of Paradise Plant are Spider Mites, Aphids, Whiteflies, Mealybugs and Scales.

Isolate the affected plant to prevent spread to other houseplants and treat it appropriately for the pests. Read more on how to identify and get rid of pests in houseplants.

Diseases

White Bird of Paradise Plant is prone to root-rot disease which is promoted by soggy soil brought about by poor drainage of the soil.

Ensure that the pot has a drainage hole and that the soil is free-draining to prevent it from getting soggy.

Cut down on watering during the cold season to maintain the soil slightly moist as growth is minimal at this time. Learn more on how to treat root-rot in houseplants.

Yellow leaves

There are two possible causes of yellow leaves in White Bird of Paradise Plant. One possible cause is soggy soil (too wet soil) due to poor drainage.

Ensure that the pot has a drainage hole and the soil is free-draining soil to prevent the soil from getting soggy.

In addition, reduce watering during the cold season to maintain the soil slightly moist as growth is reduced at this time thus the plant does not require much water.

The second possible cause of yellow leaves in Giant Bird of Paradise Plant is cold drafts resulting in too cold temperatures.

Keep the Strelitzia nicolai away from cold drafts like windy doors and windows, air conditioning units among others to avoid sudden changes in temperature.

Brown and crispy leaf tips and edges

Brown and crispy leaf tips in White Bird of Paradise Plant are caused by too dry air (low humidity) as it thrives in warm, humid conditions.

To increase humdity, set the pot on a wet pebble tray or use a cool mist humidifier. Read more on how to raise humidity for houseplants.

Brown leaf tips and edges

Brown leaf tips in White Bird of Paradise Plant are due to soggy soil (too wet soil). Ascertain that the pot has a drainage hole and the soil is free-draining soil to prevent it from getting soggy.

During the cold season reduce watering to maintain the soil slightly moist as growth is minimal at this time, therefore, the plant requires very little water.

Brown leaf spots

Brown leaf spots in White Bird of Paradise Plant are sun scorch marks caused by exposure of the plant to direct hot sunlight before acclimating it.

Gradually acclimate the plant before exposing it to the hot direct sunshine outside. Move it to a slightly brighter spot every so often until it can withstand direct sunlight.

Brown speckled leaf markings

Brown speckled leaf markings in White Bird of Paradise are caused by accumulation of salts in the soil from the water used or from overfertilizing. The plant is sensitive to excess salts in the soil.

To get rid of these accumulated salts, flush (leach) them out occasionally by running for a few minutes a steady stream of water through the soil until it comes out through the drainage holes. Repeat the process several times.

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