Bird-of-paradise plants (family Strelitziaceae) bear flowers that closely resemble a group of bird species called birds of paradise. The plants can grow more than 2 yards tall and 4 to 5 feet in diameter. These slow-growing perennials mature slowly, so they don't require regular pruning. Cut the dead stems, flowers and leaves from your birds-of-paradise two or three times a year. Over-pruning seriously damages the plant and can cause otherwise healthy stems to wither and die.
Things You'll Need
- Gardening gloves
- Pruning shears or scissors
Examine your plant for dead or dying growth once every two to three weeks. Search for withered flowers several times a week when the plant blooms in spring and summer. The plant does not shed dead flowers on its own, and removing them stops the plant from propagating.
Clean residue and dirt from your pruning shears and gloves. Infectious disease can spread to freshly-pruned plants because their interior circulatory system is exposed after cutting. Garden gloves are not necessary for handling birds-of-paradise plants, but offer protection from the sharp shears or scissors.
Trace dead stems and leaves to their source before deciding on a cutting location. Cut small or thin branches close to a thicker stem, even if there is some healthy growth remaining on them. Cut larger dead stems near the ground. Pick locations that allow for the lowest number of total cuts possible.
Grasp the main (larger) stem at an intersection with the dead branch. Grab the base of the plant if you are cutting an entire shoot. Hold the plant steady, but don't bend or squeeze healthy growth.
Clasp the dead stem with the pruning shear's blades as close to the intersection as possible. If you are cutting an entire stem, place the shears 3 to 6 inches above the ground at the stalk's base. Squeeze the shears firmly to prune the stem. A quick, clean cut reduces the chances of infection.