Thursday, February 22, 2007

Bird of Paradise

Bird-of-paradise (Strelitzia reginae) is a native of South Africa and one of the most unusual and attractive members of the banana family. This plant bears a unique flower that resembles a brightly colored bird in flight, giving it the common name, bird-of-paradise.

In contrast to the banana, the bird-of-paradise is trunkless. The foliage resembles small banana leaves but has long petioles. Leaves are thick, waxy, and glossy green, making it a very attractive ornamental. Leaf blades are 6 inches wide and 18 inches long. The plant usually reaches a height of 4 feet.

Bird-of-paradise thrives in most soils, but does best in rich loamy soils with good drainage. For good flower production, place plants in sunny or partially shaded locations.

For best growth and flowering, bird-of-paradise requires fertilization. Slow-release fertilizers, such as sewage sludge and bloodmeal, or an inorganic complete fertilizer such as 12-4-8, can be used.

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