Bird of Paradise – Two Ways of Propagation

Although it comes from the tropical zone, Bird of Paradise or Strelitzia can be successfully grown as a potted plant outside its origin area. 

Caring for this plant is surprisingly simple, and with proper treatment, this long-lived plant will enliven your space for years with its amazing flowers. If you want to grow this plant at home, you can find everything about the conditions you need to properly care for Bird of Paradise.

Except for a little more space, this modest plant does not require much. It is easy to grow and even easy to propagate. Below are two ways you can propagate it, step by step

Plant Division

Even though it grows relatively slowly and takes five or six years to reach full size, birds of paradise will sooner or later outgrow the pot in which it is planted. It is true that the plant likes the compression of the roots in the container and that the lack of space stimulates the development of its aboveground part and more abundant flowering. 

Still, after two or three years, the lack of space becomes a limiting factor for its further growth. Then you have the choice to transplant it into a larger pot or take the opportunity and multiply it by dividing it into several new, smaller specimens.

The best period for this procedure is early spring before the new growing season begins, as the plant needs a little time to adapt to the new conditions. Here is how to do it:

  • Water the plant abundantly before the procedure to make it easier to remove from the pot. The soft, wet substrate also reduces root damage to a minimum while removing the plant.
  • Wait for ten minutes for the excess water to drain after soaking the substrate evenly, then carefully remove the plant from the pot. Clean all dirt from the roots and rinse it under a stream of lukewarm water. It is also an opportunity to inspect the root ball and remove any damaged, crushed, or unhealthy parts.
  • Leave the cleaned root in the air for fifteen minutes to dry or dry it with a paper towel.
  • While the root is drying, prepare new pots and fill them halfway with a fresh mixture of a similar composition to the one in which the plant previously grew.
  • Cut the rhizome root so that each part has several developed leaves, using sharp scissors or a knife that you have previously sterilized. The Bird of paradise cannot be propagated vegetatively. It means that you cannot get a new plant by rooting the leaves. Therefore, you need both leaves and part of the existing root for propagation.
  • Place each segment into the pot, add more substrate and lightly press with your fingers to make the plant stand upright. The new container should not be too large! If there is much space, the plant will expend energy on root development to the detriment of the leaf mass. Therefore use the pot that is just one or two inches larger than the root diameter.
  • Water the plant and add more mixture as needed so that the level of the substrate is two fingers below the edge of the pot. Then place the new plants in a warm, bright place without direct sunlight.

New plants that you get this way will not bloom until they reach maturity. Regardless of whether it was a mature plant, this division is not a natural way of propagation, so each newly grown part will need extra time to establish a rhythm and reach the metabolism of the adult plant.

Seed Propagation

Bird of Paradise propagation by sowing seeds is the way these plants reproduce in nature. Hard globular black seeds with orange tufts attract birds that then scatter them in the landscape.

However, Mother Nature is in no hurry, so growing from seed is a long-term process intended only for those who have enough patience to wait for the seed to germinate, which can take one month to one year! In addition, plants grown from seed need more than six years to reach maturity and bloom for the first time. Yet, if you would like to try growing the Bird of paradise plant from seed, here is the procedure:

  • Remove the hairy orange tufts. Except that they bait for birds, they have no role in the germination process.
  • Put the seeds in a bowl of lukewarm water and leave them for 48 hours to soften.
  • Plant the seeds in a moist substrate to a depth of one inch. You can plant them in individual small pots or, more conveniently, in a planter at a distance of two inches. 
  • Cover the pot with a plastic or glass cover and place it in a bright and warm place. Temperature and humidity play a key role in the germination process, so keep the planter at the temperature of 85 F / 30 C.

After that, you just have to wait! When the seedlings appear and grow enough to handle them, you can transplant the Bird of paradise babies into separate containers. If you have chosen small pots with individual seeds, do not move them until the roots have filled the pots.

Seeds in a plastic bag

Instead of planting the seeds in the soil, you can try an alternative method that speeds up the germination process.

  • Place two layers of kitchen paper on the bottom of the plastic box with the lid. 
  • Arrange the pre-soaked seeds on paper. 
  • Mist the seeds and paper and then cover with another paper layer, close the box, and place in a warm place. 
  • Occasionally lift the lid to ventilate the seeds and mist as needed additionally.

The advantage of this method is that you will see when a germ emerges from the seeds. Transfer the germinated seeds to a pot with a moist substrate and plant one inch deep.

Cover the pot with a plastic bag to prevent the soil from drying out and keep it in a warm place.

If nothing else, at least you know that the seed is fresh and that the process of developing a new plant has already begun. The rest is a matter of the rhythm that Mother Nature determines by its own rules!