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Bird Of Paradise

Although sometimes considered an outdoor plant, the bird of paradise plant can also be grown indoors. These large, queenly beauties make an excellent tropical addition to any décor and, as a bonus, are easy to grow.

Bird of Paradise plant
  • Bird of paradise
  • Bird of Paradise
  • Bird of Paradise

Other names for this plant...

Crane flower Birds tongue flower

About Bird Of Paradise Plants

The bird of paradise is an easy-to-care-for, large plant with glossy, upright leaves that can grow and flourish in nearly any light condition. It can adapt to low and indirect light as an indoor plant but prefers bright locations with direct sunlight.

As an outdoor plant, the bird of paradise is known for its unique blooms that resemble a brightly colored bird. However, when grown indoors, the light conditions are rarely enough to promote blooming.

Bird of paradise
Photo: IndoorPlants.comThe bird of paradise is an easy-to-care-for, large plant with glossy, upright leaves

Even without the signature bloom, this tropical plant makes a dramatic statement with its long stems and foliage resembling a banana plant.

Botanical Name

Bird of paradise plants is part of the genus Strelitzia. There are five species of plants within this genus, two of which are often grown indoors - Strelitzia reginae and Strelitzia nicolai.

All bird of paradise plants have broad, evergreen leaves that grow upright and fan out as they grow. Under the right conditions, these plants will bloom like a brightly colored bird.

Plant Type

Birds of paradise are herbaceous perennial plants that grow from rhizomes. These are non-woody plants with greenery that go dormant each year, leaving only the root, or in the case of birds of paradise, the rhizomes.

Most herbaceous perennials will die back to the ground during the winter. However, the bird of paradise is an evergreen and will maintain its greenery during the winter months through its dormancy as long as it's cared for correctly.

Once the growing season resumes, typically early spring through summer, the bird of paradise will produce new growth. Each season, the plant's leaves will grow larger.


All species of the bird of paradise are native to South Africa. Each species is found in different areas of the country and has evolved to thrive in that particular area. However, they are considered subtropical plants and prefer warm, humid growing conditions.


Bird of paradise plants has a general resemblance to banana plants.

Their glossy, leathery leaves grow upright and are supported by long, fleshy stems. Leaves emerge alternately and will fan out from the crown at the base as they grow.

It's not unusual for an indoor bird of paradise not to flower. Bird of paradise needs direct sunlight for extended periods to flower. Most indoor environments are low-light and simply won't offer the proper lighting for the plants to flower.

When flowers are produced, however, they emerge from a rigid, pointed structure called a spathe.

The spathe will grow at a right angle to the stem, and as the flower blooms, the entire structure looks strikingly similar to a bird's head.

Bird of Paradise
Photo: IndoorPlants.comBird of paradise plants have large, tropical green leaves.

Types Of Bird Of Paradise Plants

The name bird of paradise can be applied to any species within the Strelitza genus. Each of the five species can be identified more specifically, however.

The five species of bird of paradise are:

  • Bird of paradise or crane lily (S. reginae). Best for indoor cultivation.

  • White bird of paradise or giant bird of paradise (S. nicolai). It can reach 23-26 feet.

  • White bird of paradise (S. alba). It can reach 33 feet or more.

  • Mountain bird of paradise (S. caudata). It can reach 20-24 feet.

  • African dessert banana (S. juncea). It has stalks rather than leaves and is similar in height to S. reginae.

Notably, the species of plants within the genus Caesalpinia are also often referred to as the bird of paradise. However, these plants are very different and are best grown in arid, desert-like climates.

Bird Of Paradise Plant Styling 

Large pots are the best way to grow bird of paradise indoors, but be careful that there's enough room in the pot.

Bird of paradise will grow quickly under the right conditions and can become root bound. If warranted, plan to repot your bird of paradise every other year or sooner. One clear sign that it's time to repot is when roots emerge through the drainage holes in its current pot.

Bird of Paradise
Photo: IndoorPlants.comBird of paradise will grow quickly under the right conditions


Plenty of bright light is best for the bird of paradise. Choosing a spot near a window that receives direct sunlight is preferable.

Low light will result in slower growth.


Birds of paradise are considered drought-tolerant plants and don't like over-watering or wet feet. Typically once every two weeks or so is acceptable.

You can check readiness by sticking your finger about an inch into the soil. If it's dry an inch down, it's time to water.


Bird of paradise is a tropical plant and prefers warmer temperatures. Keep temperatures between 65-85 degrees F. for best growth.


Because it prefers tropical conditions, birds of paradise will do best in higher humidity of 60% or more.

In areas where this level is a challenge, the following tips can help:

  • Use a humidifier in the room where you keep your tropical plants.

  • Place a tray containing rocks and water under your plant.

  • Keep your plants grouped, especially the tropical plants, so their collective respiration increases the humidity.


Birds of paradise need well-drained soil that's kept moist but not wet. Standard potting mix can be used, but to manage moisture levels, consider combining 1/2 peat moss and 1/2 potting soil.


Pruning can be done selectively to remove dead or yellowing leaves. It can also help prevent the greenery from becoming overly crowded.

Be sure to prune leaves from the bottom, nearest to the crown.


Fertilizing is best done monthly during spring and summer and not at all during fall and winter. Choose a balanced 1–1–1 NPK ratio and apply it directly to the soil, not the leaves.

Height & Growth

Birds of paradise are known for their impressive height and beauty. Because of their size, not all bird of paradise species are good choices for indoor growing.

If you're growing a bird of paradise as a house plant, S. reginae is your best choice. While some species of bird of paradise can reach 30 feet tall or more, S. reginae will top out at a modest 6 feet.


If consumed, it is mildly toxic, causing gastrointestinal distress, vomiting, and drowsiness. The flower is the most poisonous part of the plant, and the primary threat is to animals and children who may find the exotic flower enticing.

Although toxicity is low, if ingested by humans or animals, consulting a medical professional is advised.


Bird of paradise plants are toxic to pets.

Common Problems 

  • Yellowing leaves. If the leaves of your bird of paradise are yellowing, it likely means your plant needs more light. Try moving it closer to a window where it can receive full sun.

  • Scale. Scale are small, flat insects that can cover the stalks of your plant. They will cause your plant growth to slow and leaves to droop.

The soft-scale species excrete a substance that attracts ants and can cause mold. The armored (hard) scale doesn't, but it can still cause problems.

If the infected area on the plant is small, pruning can solve your problem.

If a larger area is infected, neem oil and additional sunlight will work.

  • Mealy bugs. These nasty little bugs are tiny (less than 1/5 of an inch) and are covered in a waxy substance. They tend to clump around new shoots and at the base of the stalks.

Left untreated, these bugs can cause shoots to die and leaves to drop. Physically removing them, spraying with a water-isopropyl alcohol solution, or wiping with horticultural oil will help.

  • Spider mites. If you see little white dots on the leaves or stalks of your bird of paradise, you're probably dealing with spider mites. Wiping the leaves with neem oil is recommended.

  • Leaf curl. Generally a result of low humidity and underwatering. Misting and a more conscientious watering schedule will help.

How To Propagate Bird Of Paradise

Birds of paradise grow from rhizomes. This makes propagation particularly easy.

Propagation is best done in the spring as the dormancy period ends. Doing so requires just a few simple steps.

  1. Remove the plant from its pot and clear any excess soil from the rhizome.

  2. Separate the foliage and split the rhizome so that each section has an ample portion of the rhizome attached.

  3. Repot the new plants in their own containers.

Bird of paradise rarely bloom indoors unless they have year-round ideal conditions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can the bird of paradise be grown indoors?

Yes! Bird of paradise can make a beautiful house plant and add a tropical feel to your living space. Just ensure you have enough room and get the proper species of bird of paradise. S. reginae is the appropriate bird of paradise plant, and the mature plants can be up to 6 feet tall.

What's the difference between an outdoor bird of paradise plant and an indoor one?

The primary difference between an indoor bird of paradise and an outdoor one is the size. Most birds of paradise can grow up to 30 feet at full maturity.

S. reginae, however, will only reach about 6 feet and makes a perfect house plant.

Does a bird of paradise require a lot of water when grown indoors?

Bird of paradise is a drought-tolerant plant and doesn't like wet feet or to be overwatered. Once the soil is dry about an inch down, or roughly every two weeks, it's time to water again.

How big will an indoor bird of paradise grow?

At full height, S. reginae, an appropriate indoor bird of paradise, will be approximately 6 feet tall.

Will an indoor bird of paradise bloom?

It's possible if given enough direct sunlight. But flower production heavily depends on light exposure, and many indoor environments don't have enough light to inspire flowering.

That doesn't mean your bird of paradise won't be beautiful, however. The tall, green foliage is striking and makes quite a statement on its own

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