Bird of Paradise is an unmistakable plant. While most have the crane-like blooms in hues of orange and blue, Mandela's gold flower is brilliantly yellow. Native to South Africa around the Cape region, it requires warm temperatures and high humidity. If you are considering growing Mandela's gold, it has a wide range of hardiness from USDA zones 9-11.
Most gardeners can enjoy a hardy bird of paradise plant either indoors or out. It is a striking bush with characteristic flowers. Mandela's gold bird of paradise has the added appeal of lemon yellow sepals flanked by bright blue petals, with the classic beak-like sheath. The Mandela's gold plant adds vertical interest with its large banana-like leaves.
About Mandela's Gold Bird of Paradise
Mandela's gold plant can reach heights of up to 5 feet ( 1.5 m) and similarly wide. The bluish green leaves grow up to 2 feet ( 0.6 m) in length with a prominent pale midrib. Mandela's gold flower springs from a grayish spathe, unfurling its 3 golden sepals and the classic 3 blue petals. Each spathe contains 4-6 flowers with each emerging separately. The genus, Strelitzia, was named for Queen Charlotte who was also Duchess of Mecklenberg-Strelitz. Mandela's was bred in Kirstenboch. This new cultivar is rare in its flower color and hardiness and was released under its name in 1996 to honor Nelson Mandela.
Growing Mandela's Gold Bird of Paradise
Bird of paradise can be grown as a houseplant but does require very bright light to bloom. In the garden, choose a sunny location with protection from the wind, which tends to tatter the leaves. In cooler regions, plant near a north or west wall to protect against frost. Strelitzia need rich soil with plenty of humic matter and a pH of 7.5. Mix bonemeal into the soil at planting and water in well. Top dress with well-rotted manure or compost. Once established, Mandela's does fine with very little water. This is a slow growing plant and will take several years to bloom. Propagation is through division.
Caring for Mandela's Gold
Fertilize Mandela’s gold plant in spring with a 3:1:5 formula. Potted plants need to be fed a dilution of fertilizer every 2 weeks. Reduce watering in winter and suspend feeding.
This plant has few pest or disease problems. Mealybugs, scale and spider mites might take up residence. If they do, wipe the leaves off or use a horticultural oil. Move potted plants indoors for the winter in cold climates, and water rarely.
Bird of paradise likes to be crowded but when it is time to repot, do so in spring. You can choose to remove spent flowers or just let them wither off the plant. Remove dead leaves as they occur. Mandela's gold needs very little maintenance and will live for years, often outlasting its owner.
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Bonnie Grant is a professional landscaper with a Certification in Urban Gardening. She has been gardening and writing for 15 years. A former professional chef, she has a passion for edible landscaping.
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