Orange Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae)
Exotic egret head in profile shaped flower of vibrant orange, purple, and red. The blossom is large measuring 4-5 inches tall and long. Its long stemmed dark green leaves resemble the shape of a banana plant. All growth starts at the base, the flowers are on their own stiff stalk. What a show stopper, any ornithologist would take a second look! You can see this non winged wonder in bloom at the Botanical Gardens of the Sanibel Moorings.
Blooming, this tropical plant is a must for cut gardens, with flowers off and on thru out the year. The large substantial flowers are held above the leaves by long stiff stems. They are an explosion of feather shaped color. Petals are dark blue, sepals are bright orange, and they emerge from a vivid canoe shaped bulge at the end of the stem. All over the world, florist love to utilize our star in really beautiful arrangements. In the garden our plant is a naturally shaped shrub with banana shaped leaves and lovely birds peeking thru. The most common question I receive about our star is why isn’t mine blooming? Here are some considerations: at least 4+ hours of sunlight with regular watering, doesn’t like continual wet feet, and it takes around five years for a plant to mature and bloom. Otherwise, they are easy to care for, everything connects at the base in a clumping manner, which can grow wider or be divided by a shovel and a little muscle. After blooming be sure to clean out the old blossoms, which will start to smell if left unattended. Maximum height for this slow grower is 5-6 feet tall, which makes it perfect for patios with a view. You may plant in full sun or filtered shade, and well drained soil. It is a non invasive exotic with little or no pests or diseases. Great habitat plant because, birds drink from the flower bases. They are enjoying the collected water and the flowers nectar. Bird ala bird!
Pros: Great low growing shrub – Does well in wet areas – Likes full sun – can be divided and planted other places or share with neighbors – non invasive – May have bird watcher in your garden – Salt tolerance – Will fill in unsightly areas with little effort – Birds love it!
Cons: Needs to be separated periodically – Can get dead foliage/ trim away – Need to trim away spent blooms – Not good unless watered regularly – Annoying when they don’t bloom – Non native.
Conclusion: Bring out those binoculars-there are birds blooming in the bushes. No need to worry, they won’t fly away in our tropical eye catching garden. Don’t wanna miss this bloomer!