Bird of Paradise Plant Care


PRO TIP: Trim away older leaves on the bird of paradise, as they droop over time and develop more splits. New leaves always emerge from the center and keep the plant full and balanced.

The Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia nicolai) boasts a stunning display of large tropical leaves that stand anywhere from 3’- 8’ tall. Choose a location away from air vents and drafts where the plant will get at least four hours of southern, western, or eastern exposure. Though they can tolerate lower light conditions, the Bird of Paradise will not thrive long term without adequate sunlight and we recommend always placing them in bright light.

If you are unsure about lighting conditions in your home or office, we have a guide for how to measure light in your space.

Bird of Paradise Plant Leaf

Bird of Paradise plants are often confused with banana plants, but while bananas grow from a central stalk, Bird of Paradise plants have many leaf fronds.

Routine Maintenance

PRO TIP: In the winter months when the sun is further from earth, Birds of Paradise go through a “resting” period and require less water. October – February you can dial back the amount of water given provided you don’t have the plant near a dry heat source. In general it is better to adjust the amount of water given rather than the frequency of watering.

Always be sure to assess your plants watering needs upon receiving it. Before giving your plant a drink, it is best to check the moisture level in the soil first. Bird of Paradise like to dry out slightly between waterings, so always feel the soil a few inches down to ensure it isn’t moist right beneath the surface, before giving your plant a drink. Birds of Paradise enjoy moist (but not soggy) soil. Try not to let the soil dry completely through the pot, but also avoid over watering. These plants do particularly well in our self watering containers. Consider aerating the soil of your plant before the initial watering. We compact the soil to avoid shifting during transit, so aerating can help the soil breath and allow for moisture to be released.

The splits in the leaves of the Bird of Paradise are natural, and allow light to access the lower portion of the plant. Keep your plant away from drafts, and apply extra humidity with a humidifier or pebble tray, to keep the splitting at a minimum.

For regular upkeep, dust the leaves often so the plant can photosynthesize properly. When dusting, take the opportunity to inspect the underside of leaves and keep an eye out for pests. Using fertilizer spring through fall will enhance your plants foliage and promote new growth. Rotate your plant periodically to ensure even growth on all sides.

Remember each plant is a unique living thing and may have varying needs, especially in their individual locations. Pay attention to the condition of your Bird of Paradise and its watering needs and you will have a long and happy relationship.

Standard Planter Instructions

There are two types of standard planters offered by Greenery NYC, those with drainage holes, and those without. Within those two categories are an array of sizes and styles to choose from. All these factors play a role in the quantity and frequency of water given to your plant.

Plants purchased in a pot without a drainage hole, have been set up with a built in drainage system. A layer of hydro stones (porous, absorbent material made of recycled glass) has been placed beneath the soil to act as a reservoir and retain any excess water that flows through the soil. You will need to be slightly more cautious not to pour too much water into these containers as there is no way for the water to escape. We suggest pouring small amounts of water in bit by bit, until you have reached the desired moisture level in the soil.

Always be sure to assess your plants watering needs upon receiving it. Refer to the routine maintenance section for moisture requirements.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are the leaves of my Bird of Paradise splitting?

  • Splitting leaves on the Bird of Paradise is totally normal and natural. The splits allow for light to reach the lower portion of the plant. Over time, older leaves develop more splits and can be pruned as new leaves emerge and fill out the plant. If you notice the plant is developing splits rapidly, check that it is removed from hot/cold air vents, and that it is receiving adequate light and water.

Will my Bird of Paradise flower?

  • Most often, Bird of Paradise will not produce flowers indoors. Only in their natural habitat and high light conditions will the circumstances arise. The variety Greenery NYC provides is the white flowering giant Bird of Paradise, as the leaves are much larger than that of the common orange flowering variety.

What is this spear emerging from the middle of my plant?

  • A new leaf! New leaves always come from the center of the plant, and shoot out tightly wound into a spear. Over the course of a few weeks the leaf will slowly uncurl and reveal a brilliant, bright green, shiny new leaf. Although tempting, do not assist the leaf to open as this could cause damage to the leaf.

How often should I fertilize my plant?

  • In general, house plants will thrive when they are fertilized spring through fall. Fertilize once a month with an organic houseplant fertilizer, following the package instructions for dilution and administration. Greenery NYC uses an organic potting mix with a slow release fertilizer in the soil so your plant will not need fertilizer within the first 6 months of receiving it.

How often does my plant need to be repotted?

  • For larger floor plants, we suggest repotting every 18-24 months. Although the bird of paradise prefers to be slightly pot bound so you can hold off on repotting for 28 months, if the plant is in healthy condition. Typically you want to choose a potting vessel 2”- 4” larger in diameter to allow for growth. Don’t choose a pot much larger than the previous as this could drown the plants roots. If you prefer to maintain the current size of your plant, repot it into the same vessel, providing new soil and trimming away some roots and foliage. Repotting in the spring or summer is ideal.

Additional Care Guides