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The Beautiful Bird of Paradise Plant | Strelitzia Nicolai

We’re so excited to bring you information and a care guide this week for the simply stunning Bird of Paradise plant. This giant among houseplants is a member of our big houseplant collection and even if we do say so ourselves, he’s a corker! The Strelitzia Nicolai is better known as the Bird of Paradise and sometimes as the Wild Banana Plant or the Crane Flower.

He is actually a cousin to the banana and sometimes the two plants are confused. There is a family resemblance between the leaves of the two plants. But when taking a closer look, you will notice that the leaf growth patterns are different. This tropical beauty grows naturally in the rainforests of southern Africa. He works perfectly as an indoor plant. With his gorgeous spray of giant, glossy, green leaves we can see why he’s such a popular choice for interior and plant lovers alike. Strelitzia Nicolai is particularly appealing, thanks to the ease with which he will grow and those beautiful, large leaves.

A Complete Guide to Bird of Paradise Plant Care

For a green beauty of such impressive size and stature, this epic plant is actually pretty low maintenance. In its natural, tropical rainforest habitat, the Bird of Paradise enjoys warmth, humidity, and lots of shaded sunlight. To keep your plant thriving in your home, it is best to try to replicate these tropical conditions. Don’t panic, it’s not as hard as it sounds, even in less than tropical Great Britain! Read on to discover all you need to know to keep your beautiful Bird of Paradise healthy.

Light and Position

Pop your tropical beauty in a warm spot in your home that benefits from lots of indirect sunlight. Whilst the Bird of Paradise enjoys lots of sunlight, avoid direct light as this will scorch those luscious leaves. Birds of Paradise will thrive best in a bright spot. These beauties need good light for 4-6 hours a day, he won’t thank you if placed in a gloomy corner.  To keep his leaves healthy and to ensure he doesn’t dry out too much, keep him away from radiators and out of draughts too.


Your Bird of Paradise will need water approximately once a week in the summer months and less frequently in the winter when the growth rate slows right down. It is good practice to check that the topsoil has dried out before giving your plant more water. Too much water will be detrimental to the health of your Bird of Paradise. To check whether your plant is ready for water push your thumb 2-3inches into the soil. If it’s dry you can give him more water. To avoid root rot, don’t let your plant stand in water.


A rainforest environment is naturally a very humid environment so your Bird of Paradise will benefit from some humidity in his indoor home. Spritz your plant with a mister on a fortnightly basis to keep him thriving.


During the spring and summer months when your Bird of Paradise is doing the most growing, he will benefit from a monthly feed with liquid indoor plant fertiliser. We use Plant Food from Plantsmith, Plantsmith Fortifying Houseplant Tonic – Online Houseplant Food. This will help to keep those leaves healthy and improve growth.

Leaf Care

Keep those green leaves gorgeously glossy with a little dust as needed. Use a mister and a microfibre cloth to gently wipe them down. Plantsmith Leaf shine, Plantsmith Beautifying Leaf Shine – Online Houseplant Food, keeps those leaves looking super healthy. While you are dusting those leaves don’t be scared to trim off any lower yellow or damaged leaves. This will keep this plant looking at its luscious best!

Don’t worry if your leaves have split, this is normal is a natural process to allow light to the lower parts of the plant. In order to achieve even growth, we’d suggest rotating your plant regularly to ensure all sides of the plants grow evenly.

Shop the Bird of Paradise at The Little Botanical

An indoor plant of this magnitude really does speak for itself in the style stakes. If you’re looking for a real showstopper to take your indoor greenery up a notch then the Strelitzia could be the one for you. With the potential to keep growing in height, this green beauty is one of the biggest in our range here at TLB and will really be something to behold in your home. Whether you choose this standout, tropical guy in our chic, hand-finished grey ceramic or our signature cotton and seagrass belly basket, he will make a beautifully eye-catching green feature.

Style him on his own to take absolute centre stage or make him the showstopping centrepiece in your indoor jungle. Either way, he’ll be a huge green hit! However, you choose to style him though, remember, he’s big and his leaves have the potential to grow rapidly. Maximise his impact by popping him in a spacious, well-lit spot so he has the room to spread his wings!

Fun Facts about the Bird of Paradise

The botanical name for the Bird of Paradise is Strelitzia Nicolai which was coined by the botanist Sir Joseph Banks. The genus Strelitzia was named after the Duchess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz in the 18th century. She was known to be very fond of plants and flowers; obviously a woman of exceptional taste!

If the botanical name for this tropical specimen is Strelitzia Nicolai, are you wondering where the more commonly used Bird of Paradise comes from? In its natural habitat, this beautiful plant will produce flowers in vibrant shades of orange and blue that look like a tropical bird in flight – just stunning. Sadly, it’s very unlikely that your Bird of Paradise will produce these flowers when grown indoors. These plants require at least 6 hours of sunlight a day in order to bloom. Even in the height of summer, this feels like wishful thinking here in the UK!

If you are already the proud owner of a beautiful Bird of Paradise plant you might have noticed its most unusual feature. This tropical beauty doesn’t actually have a trunk. Its large leaves grow directly out of the soil, expanding up to a staggering 45cms long. Hence why this green beauty needs plenty of space to make sure he can reach his full impactful potential.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Bird of Paradise

My Strelitzia Bird of Paradise arrived and it’s enormous! Is there any special care I need to give it to make sure it remains big and healthy?

This gorgeous plant sure is a big beauty, to keep him that way, make sure you position him in indirect sunlight. He doesn’t like to be overwatered so check that the soil is dry beneath the surface before giving him a drink. To check, push your thumb about 2-3 inches into the soil and if it is dry, give him some water. To help your plant to grow evenly on all sides, rotate him regularly. And gently dust those luscious green leaves to allow the plant to photosynthesise.

Where did the Bird of Paradise get its name from?

The Bird of Paradise name comes from the stunning flowers that the plant will produce in its natural habitat. The flower is made up of six petals; three are bright orange and three are vibrant blue. As the flower blooms and each gorgeous petal reveals itself, the unique shape that emerges resembles a tropical bird in flight – simply stunning!

Why are the leaves of my Bird of Paradise turning brown?

The most likely cause of brown leaves on your Bird of Paradise is both not enough light and underwatering. The Bird of Paradise thrives in a well-lit spot.  It also requires quite moist soil, although do make sure the top 2-3 inches of your Bird of Paradise soil are dry before watering again.  Note this can take much longer in the winter months.

However, if the soil has completely dried out, pop your plant into a sink of water and let it saturate for about 45 minutes. Once you have done this, check the soil weekly and water as normal each time the top 2-3 inches of soil has dried out.

Watching out for underwatering and ensuring he is getting a good continuous light source. This might mean moving him a metre or 2 in the winter, these top tips should keep your plant happy and prevent any further browning of the leaves.

Why are my Bird of Paradise leaves splitting?

The splitting of the leaves is a natural and normal process for this beauty and nothing at all to worry about. The splits occur naturally when the plant is growing in the wild to make the plant more aerodynamic. This helps to protect the plant from natural elements like strong winds, preventing the leaves from becoming sails. It also helps the lower parts of the plant to receive light. As the plant grows, more splits will develop and don’t be scared to prune those older leaves as new leaves grow.

If you are concerned by how quickly splits are developing on your leaves check that your plant is not positioned in a draught and make sure it is getting sufficient light and water.

Will my Bird of Paradise plant produce flowers?

Although this tropical beauty will flower when the plant is growing in its natural, tropical habitat, it is very unlikely to bloom in a domestic environment. The Bird of Paradise requires at least six hours of sunlight a day to produce flowers which is very difficult to provide when indoors in the UK.

We hope you’ve enjoyed learning a little more about this big beauty. Of course, if you’ve still got questions, we’d be more than happy to hear from you, please do drop us a line at [email protected]. We’ll see you next time for some more green inspo, until then, take care plant people.

Lots of love

Team TLB xx

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