STRELITZIA — Bird of Paradise Flower
A group of tender perennial plants, only one of which is commonly grown. This is Strelitzia Reginae, which has large ornamental leaves on long strong petioles (leafstalks), and bears brilliant orange and purple flowers, several together within a large bract, on stems 3 ft. or more high in spring. It is a native of South Africa and belongs to the Banana family, Musaceae. The name commemorates Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.
A Remarkable Plant
This is one of the most remarkable exotic flowering plants and is magnificent in full bloom. It thrives in a greenhouse where a minimum temperature of 50-55 degrees is maintained and may either be grown in large flowerpots or in a prepared bed of soil on the greenhouse floor. The plants must be exposed to the sunshine and free ventilation is needed during warm summer weather. At that season, the plants require a good deal of water, and the soil must be kept moist; in winter, the soil should be watered only when it is fairly dry.
Planting may be done in autumn or early spring. The most suitable soil consists of loam, two-thirds, with one-third of peat and leaf mold and a free scattering of sand. If Strelitzia is grown in a bed of soil, care must be taken that it is well drained. If the plants are grown in pots, those 7, 8 or 9 inches wide are suitable. Early spring is the best time to repot those plants which need this attention.
In climates with little or no frost, as in California and Florida, Strelitzias may be grown outdoors. They thrive in any good soil and need liberal amounts of water during their active growth season. Established plants benefit from an annual application of fertilizer. Mulch from compost or other organic material is of benefit.
Propagation and Kinds
The simplest way of increasing the stock of Strelitzia is to detach the small side shoots or offsets when the plants are repotted. If seeds can be obtained, they should be sown in a warm greenhouse in pots of sandy soil in February or March.
- In addition to
- Strelitzia Reginae the following kinds are sometimes cultivated: Strelitzia augusta, which has a distinct trunk and attains a height of 18 ft., flowers white;
- Strelitzia kewensis, a hybrid between Strelitzia Reginae and Strelitzia augusta that is intermediate in appearance between its parents and has pale yellow flowers with lilac-pink markings at the bottoms of its petals;
- Strelitzia Nicolai, similar to Strelitzia augusta but usually larger and with the inner segments of the flowers blue instead of white;
- Strelitzia parvifolia, like Strelitzia Reginae a trunkless kind, 3-4 ft. tall, flowers purple and yellow. All, except the artificially produced hybrid, Strelitzia kewensis, are natives of South Africa.