Grow bird of paradise (Strelitzia reginae) indoors in a container to bring the tropics inside year-round. This dramatic, flowering, evergreen perennial has lush leaves and will produce striking orange flowers if you give it the right care. The flowers, which resemble a tropical bird with bright plumage, bloom in fall and winter. Bird of paradise grows 3 to 4 feet tall and grows outdoors in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 through 12.
This plant needs a lot of light. A sunroom or sunny bay window that faces south is best for a bird of paradise. If you have an atrium or a greenhouse, this tropical is a natural fit.
Light and Temperature
Grow bird of paradise where it will get direct sun through a window or door. If placed in a west of south facing window during summer, the bird of paradise might require protection from the hot and intense rays of sunlight by using some type of screening like a sheer curtain. In summer, keep the growing area between 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Ideally, in winter, reduce the temperature to between 50 and 55 F. Keep nighttime temperature at or above 50 F year-round.
Icy winter drafts from doors and windows and dry heat from heater vents can damage bird of paradise. Keep it in a protected area away from potential drafts.
Container and Drainage
Use a container that has one or more holes in the bottom to provide enough drainage. The drainage hole is critical. Without it, excess water collects at the bottom of the pot potentially causing root rot problems.
Grow bird of paradise in a planter 1 to 2 inches larger around than the nursery pot, filled with well-draining potting soil or potting mix.
Instead of repotting every year -- bird of paradise blooms best with the root are crowded in the planter -- scoop off the top 1 to 2 inches of potting soil once a year and replace with new potting soil. The bird of paradise usually won't bloom until it's at least 3 to 4 years old.
Fertilize once a month through the winter. In spring and summer increase to twice a month. Use 1/2 teaspoon of water-soluble houseplant food, such as a 24-8-16 formula, diluted in 1 gallon of water. Feed the bird of paradise by saturating the soil with the diluted fertilizer mix. After fertilizing, add water if necessary to dampen the soil all the way through.
Water when the surface of the potting starts to look slightly dry through the summer to maintain continuously moist soil. Use enough water each time to dampen the soil all the way through. A good sign you've watered enough it when a little extra water drips out of the hole in the bottom of the pot. In winter, allow the soil to dry out 1 inch deep between waterings.
Place a waterproof saucer or drip tray under the pot to catch excess water, but make sure you empty it after watering. If you use a terra cotta tray under the planter, set a plastic liner inside or under it. Terra cotta, made from unglazed clay, is porous so moisture in the saucer can damage furniture and floors under the tray.