The Giant Bird of Paradise is a tropical-looking plant from Southern Africa. They are widely cultivated around the world as an indoor plant, and are used frequently in warmer climates as garden plant. In fact, they are somewhat of an iconic Californian species, along with Washingtonia palms. They are drought-tolerant despite their lush appearance, and have few pest and disease problems.
We do not, however, generally recommend this plant for outside in the garden. There are a few reasons for this. The main reason is that it’s a trashy, messy beast! In the ground this plant will grow up to 8m or more, and will sucker from the base to form a serious clump. The plant tends to hold onto old flowers and leaves, leaving a very untidy appearance. Similarly, the leaves split easily in strong winds and get brown edges. If you are going to grow it in the garden, we recommend removing the oldest stalks every so often and letting the suckers fill back in. Once the plant is over 3m tall it is difficult and impractical to keep tidy.
As an indoor plant though, this species is one of the best. It leaves are tough and durable, coping well with heating, air-con and being brushed past all the time. They can also handle going a long time between waterings, meaning you can happily go away on holidays and be assured that your plant will be alive when you get back.
Like most indoor plants, Giant Bird of Paradise does best when in a bright spot inside the house. Although tough, they are unlikely to remain vigorous if kept in very dim conditions. Feed with a low release fertilizer, and give regular foliar feeds to encourage new leaf growth.
Easy to care for. Giant Bird of Paradise needs a bright spot, ideally close to a window, if grown as an indoor plant. Insufficient light makes it vulnerable to rotting off. If grown outside, Giant Bird of Paradise can be adapted to full sun or part shade. Strelizia nicolai will tolerate some frost periods. It is capable of growing back from the roots if completely decimated. Regular fertilizing with products such as Troforte and Organic Link will produce lush, healthy growth and many flowers.