By Susan Patterson, Master Gardener
Bird of paradise is a unique and brightly colored plant that is native to South Africa. The beautiful flower resembles a colorful bird in flight, hence the name. This interesting plant grows to a height and width of five feet and prefers day temperatures of 70 degrees F. and night temperatures of 55 degrees F.
Many people leave their plant outside in the warmer months but bring them indoors when temperatures start to drop. To keep these plants thriving, or simply start plants of your own, you can learn how to propagate birds of paradise. Propagating bird of paradise is a common practice that does not require any special skills or tools and may be helpful should the fear of winter survival be imminent.
How to Propagate Birds of Paradise
Bird of paradise propagation is not difficult and is most easily achieved by plant division. Propagating bird of paradise cuttings should take place in early spring by severing a piece of rhizome with a sharp, clean knife. Sprinkle some rooting hormone on the open cuts. Each division should have a fan with attached roots.
Put each division in a small and clean pot with high-quality planting medium. Although the temptation is to water the new division, it is best to let the cuts heal for a few days without water Begin a regular watering schedule after this time.
Provide a high quality, general plant fertilizer the following spring.
How to Grow Bird of Paradise from Seed
It is also possible to grow this lovely tropical plant from seed. Learning how to grow bird of paradise from seed isn’t difficult but may require some patience. It is imperative that bird of paradise seeds are dry and fresh for best results. Plant seeds as soon after harvest as possible.
Soak the seeds in water that is room temperature for three days to aid in germination. Change the water daily. Alternatively, you can scrape the outside coat of the seed with a file to break the seed coat.
Seeds should be planted one inch deep in moistened, high-quality potting mix. Locate newly planted seeds somewhere hot, at least 85 degrees F., with indirect light. Cover the pot with plastic to retain humidity and keep the soil moist.
The germination of bird of paradise seeds is slow, so be patient. It can take anywhere from one month to a year to see a sprout. It can also take the new plant up to ten years to flower. Timing is dependent on soil temperature and freshness.
Although a little patience may be necessary, bird of paradise propagation is a great way to grow additional plants, whether to add to your existing plants or to ensure their survival year after year in colder regions.