White Bird of Paradise is named for it’s regal, white bird-shaped flower. This plant does well with lots of bright light indoors or full sun outdoors. Not prone to insects or diseases, it’s very low maintenance. Large palm shaped fronds taper down to thick green stalks that produce new leaves from the center of the plant. Typically, these plants are symmetrical, or very close to it. Flowers form when these plants are kept outdoors in full sun and are mature enough. White Bird of Paradise prefers to stay somewhat dry.
Growing Zone: 9-11
Mature Height: 8′ – 10′
Mature Width: 4′ – 5′
Classification: Green Foliage
Sunlight: Bright, direct light to Full sun (if outdoors)
Habit: Upright palm, narrow at base
Flower Color: Does not flower indoors, white and purple flower
Foliage: Green, glossy
Soil Condition: Likes to dry out occasionally
Water Require: Likes to dry out between watering
Uses: Houseplant for bright spaces
Does Not Ship To: AK, HI, CA, WA, OR, AZ
White Bird of Paradise is an elegant, graceful palm-like plant that gives vertical height and personality to any space, indoors or out. The large, lush green leaves have a very large spread and could serve as a focal point in an atrium or living room. White Bird of Paradise prefers to be given as much light as possible indoors, preferably nearby southern exposure or in a sunroom. Outdoors, these lush plants can be planted in full sun and where they have room to expand as they will grow about 20′ tall with a 6′ spread. Leaves are shredded when exposed to high winds, but tend to hold their shape and form better than bananas.
Light Requirement of White Bird of Paradise:
Indoors, White Bird of Paradise prefers to have as much light as possible. Large south facing or western windows provide enough light indoors to keep them happy. Outdoors, they can go in full sun or some light shade.
Watering White Bird of Paradise:
White Bird of Paradise likes to dry out occasionally between waterings. It does not like to stay or sit in water or get too dry. Plants that are watered too often usually get crown or root rot, meaning the plant will die at the soil base, or the roots will die first. This is a good reason to fill a saucer with pea gravel under the pot to allow excess water to completely drain from the pot after each watering. This also helps to raise the humidity level locally around the plant which White Bird of Paradise thrives in.
Fertilizing White Bird of Paradise:
Any all purpose, foliage fertilizer will work for White Bird of Paradise. Indoor houseplant fertilizers fall into two groups: water soluble quick release, and granular slow release fertilizers. Jack’s Classic Indoor plant food works well as a powder, quick release fertilizer that is mixed with water to quickly provide nutrients to a plant that has been in a container for an extended time. On the other hand, Biotone Starter or Osmocote Indoor/Outdoor is an option as a granular, slow release fertilizer that can be applied while potting and planting. Any type of fertilizer offers nutrients that help plants with the transition to a new environment. All of these fertilizers may be used when planting White Bird of Paradise indoors or outdoors.
Growing Soil for White Bird of Paradise:
White Bird of Paradise needs a very well draining soil, and prefer to have slightly dry conditions. Regular potting mix with compost works well for plants potted in containers. Try to avoid an area with clay soil if planting outdoors to encourage better drainage.
History and introduction of White Bird of Paradise:
White Bird of Paradise originates from South Africa, and the common name comes from the flower which looks like a bright tropical bird in flight. The large banana like leaves form above thick, upright stalks resulting in an attractive foliage plant. This lush plant lends a strong vertical form to any room inside the house, or vibrant personality to a yard outside. Although unlikely to flower inside, this is one of the few houseplants that can handle strong, direct sun for several hours a day.
Strelitzia nicolai is the Latin name for White Bird of Paradise. Strelitzia is derived from Queen Charlotte Mecklenburg-Strelitz, she named it after herself once her husband became king and had control over Kew Royal Botanic Gardens. The first White Bird of Paradise was brought over to England in 1773 and added to the collection at Kew. Nicolai is so named for the Grand duke Nikolai Nikolaievich the elder, third son of Czar Nicholas I of Russia.