August 2, 2019
By H.I. JEAN SHIELDS - Garden Club of Cape Coral (email@example.com) , Cape Coral Daily Breeze
I am seeing a lot of the hardy and exotic bird of paradise plants blooming well. They do like full sun and good watering.
We certainly have that right now.
This plant will tolerate some high shade or dappled shade as long as it gets at least 4 hours sun.
You will probably want to plant this one as a specimen plant or at the back of the garden. Planting within 2 feet of a wall or fence will be troublesome over the years as it grows out and about slowly.
You usually buy this plant already in a black nursery pot. Pick one with a flower already blooming if possible. Without a flower, it may take a year to get blooms. It blooms regularly and beautifully for many years without much care.
The 5-foot-tall green, leathery, pointed leaves will surround the regal looking brilliant flowers it produces.
Bird of paradise flowers grow on tall, round, firm stalks that hold the sturdy, large, colorful flower head firmly upright. The brilliant orange fan of flower flares out of the top of a large beak-like body.
There are slender, delicate, blazing blue sections spiking out at the top, like a crown.
After all, Strelitzia Reginae, was named after the wife of King George 111, Queen Reginae.
When buying this plant, especially without flowers, buy Reginae. You do not want the huge bird of paradise that grows 30 feet. It also has a flower, white, that you have to cut off with a saw.
The flowers always stand tall and regal just above the leaves. When they have faded, just cut them off about halfway down the stem. The stem will die and you can usually just pull it out.
This beauty can be cut with enough stem to be placed in a nice single vase, without any water. It will live for at least a week. You could do several in a larger vase, but kind of awkward with so many beaks.
Soil does not need to be special as long as it drains well, and it does want to get watered well and drain well.
Our watering systems will do fine. Curling leaves will tell you that it needs more watering in a drought situation.
I had a large clump for over 15 years and was not bothered by any pests. I did take the hose to it once in a while to freshen it up during the summer. I always liked watering with the hose in the morning, just me and the flowers and fauna.
We do not do that in the Cape nowadays. During the summer, of course, we always watered only once a week, because our lawn was well established and I was always planting something new so I rationalized I should be watering new, etc.
We had a great lawn man and nothing ever got over the seawall into the fresh water lake, because of him. However the bug men did not always understand the 10-foot limit for spraying near the seawall.
You can divide a large clump of the bird, however it will have a large tough root ball after several years and will be hard to dig up.
Next week I will mention a smaller distant cousin plant, with many hanging brilliant orange/red bracts - a different look altogether.
Stay cool and dry and hydrated, a good gardener knows when to hang up the towel. You know, that sweaty ol' gardening towel.
Happy gardening till we meet again.
H.I Shields is Past President of the Garden Club of Cape Coral.
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