How to Remove the Roots of a Bird of Paradise Plant

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You can remove the roots of a Bird of Paradise Plant.
Image Credit: Phil Feyerabend/iStock/GettyImages

The fascinating bird of paradise (Strelitzia reginae, USDA plant hardiness zones 10 to 12) is known for two things: its striking flowers that resemble colorful bird heads, and its heavy, tuberous root systems. If your bird of paradise has died, needs to be relocated or is too large for its space, you have some effort ahead of you – the root systems can grow more than 2 feet long.


Removing Birds of Paradise

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Birds of paradise can get quite large: the giant bird of paradise variety (Strelitzia nicolai, USDA plant hardiness zones 9 to 10) can reach 30 feet high and 15 feet wide. For a plant like this, you will need a hand saw (or a chain saw) to cut down the plant, leaving about 1 foot above the ground. Then, use a shovel to dig out a circle about 1 foot to 1-1/2 feet around the plant until you can get the shovel under the rootball.

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Remove as much of the roots as you can. If necessary, use a pickaxe, reciprocating saw or a spade. You probably won't be able to dig up all the roots, but don't worry about that. You can apply an herbicide to prevent the roots from regrowing.

Removing the Rest of the Plant

When you have removed the roots, push the shovel under the bird of paradise and push down on the handle, using leverage to pull up the plant. Rock it back and forth a bit to help loosen it. If that fails, you can tie a rope around it, attach it to the back of a truck and pull it out that way.


When undertaking this sort of project, be sure to take the proper safety precautions. These include wearing safety goggles and work gloves, as well as being aware of your own limitations. Sometimes, a tree removal company will have to be called for exceptionally large plants.

Propagating Birds of Paradise

You can propagate a bird of paradise plant, but the process will likely keep it from flowering for the first two years. The plant must be at least three years old before propagation, as well. You will need to turn the plant on its side, so protect the floor with a towel or other covering.


You can start several new birds of paradise plants from the original plant, so get as many containers as you need, a clean, sharp pair of gardening shears, soil and a rooting hormone. Turn the plant on its side and firmly grasp the base of the stem (you may want to have someone help you with this). Carefully pull out the root ball, being sure you do not break the stem. Pull apart root stems for your new plants, ensuring that every stem has four or more rhizomes attached. These roots may need to be separated with garden shears.


Place the cut surfaces and the wounds on the main plant's cut roots in the rooting hormone. Fill your containers with fresh soil. Plant one bird of paradise stem in each pot. You can return the main plant to its pot, along with more soil. The cuts take a few days to heal; do not water them until this time. Keep the bird of paradise in a warm and humid spot that gets bright, indirect light.



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