The bird of paradise flower or Strelitzia Reginae is the most elegant and beautiful of flowers containing the colors green, orange, bright blue and pink. The flower resembles the head and beak of an exotic bird in shape, while the leaves are large and long on longer stems. It is truly a most striking plant.
If you think that such a beautiful plant must be rather temperamental to grow you would be wrong. The Strelitzia is quite hardy; its fleshy roots mean that it can tolerate drought conditions with ease. It will sail through light winter frosts without damage and is not particular as to the kind of soil it grows in. In fact it will grow quite well in soil that is rather impoverished. That doesn't mean that it won't respond to a good dose of fertilizer, though.
The plant will develop into a sturdy clump that can be divided if you possess the strength to cut down into the matted root system. It is just as happy growing in the lawn as a specimen, as it is in good garden loam with all the care and attention you can lavish on it. But in fact, you could possible kill it with kindness, as it doesn't like too much water.
Some people think that the plant will not withstand cold weather- or hot weather - but that depends on what sort of hot or cold weather they mean. In temperate climates the cold weather the plant will stand up to is about -5 Centigrade. In extremely hot conditions you may find a shady place is best for your bird of paradise, but generally they can stand sunny conditions of up to 35 degrees Centigrade or even more.
If grown from seed, the plant may take a few years to flower. Why worry about seeds when a piece of plant with a bit of root attached will grow and flower within a year? The flowers last for quite a few weeks, with new orange petals coming out over that time to replace those that have turned brown.
The cut flower will also last for ages in a vase. While the most frequently grown Strelitzia is the orange one, there is a new golden one that has now been developed. It is called Mandela's Gold and the plant grown from seed will flower in two years.
Strelitzia alba is the white flowering form that grows up to eighteen feet high while Strelitzia Nicholai is the giant of the family, with an actual trunk that can reach 20 feet high, the leaves adding another 10 feet to that.
Hans is writer at http://www.patio-furniture-ideas.com and is writing about biological vegetable gardening