WHITE BIRD OF PARADISE (Strelitzia Nicolai)
ORIGIN : South Africa
LIGHT : Medium to high (part shade, full sun)
WATER : Moderate (plant has a structure that stores water)
GROWTH RATE : Moderate
HEIGHT : 30-35 feet
White Bird of Paradise, also known as Wild Banana or Giant Bird of Paradise, is a clump forming tropical plant native to eastern South Africa, with banana-like leathery leaves, arranged fan shaped and flowers which resemble an exotic bird in flight.
The White Bird of Paradise is a large upright plant. If planted in the preferred well drained, but moist, rich soil, it can grow 20 feet or more in height and spread over an area of 15 feet wide. The White Bird of Paradise tends to grow in clusters with multiple stems growing out of a single base. Clusters can have more than dozen stems. Controlling the height is only possible by completely removing the tallest stalks (pruning individual stalks only kills the stalk).
The large dark green, 4 feet long and 2 feet wide leaves spread out in two directions in a symmetrical manner. Winged stems are clasped to a trunk that is hidden until exposed as the plant ages and the older leaves fall off. If the leaves are splitting, the humidity level may be too low. Low humidity will also prevent the new leaf from unfurling on its own.
The foot long flowers appear between the leaves on long stems. They are carried by the mahogany-brown bracts and produce many petals. The plants need to be a few years old before they bloom. Once mature, they may bloom any time of the year but rarely in indoor light settings.
The fruit (yellow, orange and brown) is a three celled capsule which splits to expose large black seeds with an orange aril. The two primary methods for propagation are seeds and suckers (division). Propagation from seeds is slow but preferred while propagation by division takes time and the success rate is much lower.