Bird of paradise – Strelizia alba – Strelizia alba – Garden plants – Bird of paradise – Strelizia alba – Shrubs

Strelizia alba is native to South Africa, it is a genus composed of 5 species of shrubs and palm trees, evergreen, with large leaves usually placed parallel to each other. The plant needs mild temperatures to survive, abundant watering, and a location not exposed to direct sunlight. The flowers are asymmetrical and have 3 small and 3 large petals, two of which are welded together.

The genus Strelitzia includes five species of herbaceous plants belonging to the family Musaceae (like the banana). They are all of subtropical origin, in particular they come from southern Africa.

They are also commonly called the “bird of paradise”, while the current botanical name was assigned to them to honor the bride of King George of England. III Sophia of Mecklemburg-Strelitz.

These are herbaceous plants without stems.

The leaves, in fact, sprout directly from the collar at ground level. The roots are impressive, sorted and very fleshy. In the open ground, and in their natural environments, they are able to develop to considerable depths in order to be able to obtain water and nutrients.

sterlizia fiore

General characteristics

sterlizia regina The species that is most easily found on the market is undoubtedly the reginae. This species of witchcraft alba is sold both as an indoor plant and as a cutting flower, as it can become part of beautiful compositions with a tropical flavor.

It is formed by a head of large leaves rather leathery and shiny, oval-shaped and up to 40 cm long. The central vein is in relief. The upper page is a beautiful bright green, while the lower one takes on glaucous shades due to the strong presence of bloom. The petioles, which sprout directly from the ground forming a large head, are very robust and can range from 70 cm up to even a meter and a half in length.

In our hemisphere these plants generally bloom in the middle of winter (i.e. from November to May at the latest). It should be noted, however, that in the places of origin in this period is at the height of summer.

The stems of the plant of the bird of paradise, of round section, can be of considerable size (even exceed one meter in length). At the top there is a green spathe suffused with red that, when it opens, lets out from 3 to 8 flowers. These are made up of countless bright orange tepals and three of a beautiful turquoise blue. Both the shape and the contrast of colours give life to a memorable show.

At our latitudes it is practically impossible that pollination takes place; in fact in nature it is operated by insects and especially small birds with which the plant lives almost in symbiosis. It is therefore rather unlikely to see the ripening of the fruits and then obtain seeds, if not in a controlled environment where pollination takes place at the hands of man.

In any case, the fruits are formed by three capsules placed in a triangle, from which, when ripe, come out the seeds, round, of a glossy black colour and provided with a thick orange-yellow plumage, very lively.

Family and gender

  Musaceae, gen. Strelitziae, 5 species

Type of plant

 Herbaceous, up to 10 meters high


 Very bright, no direct sun in summer


 Non rustic (can stand up to 5°C)


 Rich, but well drained


 Flowers are orange and blue, or white.


 Abundant and frequent, no saucer, frequent vaporization.

Non-calcareous water


 From October to March


 Weekly, good doses of nitrogen and potassium on young plants, then only potassium

Vegetative rest

 July and August

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The flowers

Strelizia Much used as a flower composition, the flowers of the bird of paradise are grouped within bracts. In temperate zones the witchcraft alba is cultivated as an ornamental shrub. Reproduction takes place by offshoot or gamically (from seed). Sowing must be carried out in spring, being careful to use a warm bed for at least the first three weeks.

Strelitzia reginae

Strelizia reginaNative to South Africa, it has a bushy habit that can reach a maximum height of 1.2 metres, with elliptical silvery leaves that reach 30-40 cm in length. The flower has orange-yellow sepals divided by blue joined petals.

Strelitzia dawn

Native to South Africa, this species has a tree shape and white inflorescences with few bracts.

Strelitzia nicolai

sterlizia nicolai Originally from South Africa, it has an erect posture with wooden stems that branch out from the ground. The plant reaches a height of up to 7 metres and has very large ovate leaves of a bright green colour. The flower is blue, lilac or white and is characterized by long dark red bracts.

Sterile Rusticity

Rusticità sterlizia As we have dettl’bird of paradise is a plant coming from subtropical areas. In most Italian regions, therefore, it can only be grown in containers and is considered a houseplant.

However, it should be noted that in various areas of our peninsula, especially in southern regions, islands and even some coastal areas of the north (especially the Ligurian Riviera) you can also try growing outside, in the open land.

To regulate ourselves on this opportunity we keep in mind that the minimum temperature for continuing a vegetative growth (even minimum) is 13 ° C. However, the plant can survive outside even with temperatures around 6 ° C, provided they are not too prolonged. In case of doubt (or if the winter is particularly cold compared to the average in the area) it is advisable to cover the plant with several layers of non-woven fabric and create a thick layer of mulch around the foot.

The ideal, both inside and outside, is to oscillate between 14° and 21°C.


To grow and flourish at their best, strelitzias always need a lot of light.

If kept in an apartment, they should be located in the vicinity of a lighted window for most of the day. When summer arrives, however, especially if we live in the southern regions, it is advisable to move them to a slightly more sheltered area (especially during the middle hours of the day) because the intensity of the light could cause leaf burns.

Moreover, these plants do not like the stagnant air. It is therefore advisable to ventilate often the room in which they are placed, avoiding only the cold air currents.

For this purpose, from spring to autumn (as long as temperatures allow) it is always recommended to move the pots of the bird of paradise outside, on a balcony, terrace or directly in the garden. We will see significantly increased vegetative growth (except in July and August). In order not to expose them too much to light, it is best to place them under a pergola or in the shade of a deciduous tree.

Soil sterility

strelizia The ideal soil for dawn witchcraft must be very rich, but also has excellent drainage capacity. As it often has to be irrigated, problems of stagnation and consequently rottenness can arise.

You can safely use the compost for flowering plants, mixing a handful of manure floured well seasoned and at least 1/3 of coarse sand. To further improve the drainage of the water we can also insert a little ‘agri-perlite.

It is extremely important to create a very thick draining layer of expanded clay, gravel or glass beads at the bottom of the paradise bird container.

Let’s remember that in any case the use of saucers is not recommended and containers made of natural materials (such as terracotta) are always preferred because they favour transpiration.

Repotting, cleaning and pruning sterility

Rinvaso sterliziaThe repotting of the bird of paradise, on young plants, must be done every year, at the beginning of spring. We will choose a slightly larger container than the previous one.

When the pot has reached a considerable size (more than 35 cm) we can limit ourselves to replacing the superficial layer of soil, possibly making cores with a transplanter along the circumference.

Pruning is not necessary. Only the basal leaves must be removed as they age and will inevitably have to be removed. It may also be necessary to cut damaged or diseased leaves. In any case, remember to use tools that are well sharpened and disinfected by flame or bleach.

Sterile Division

The division by multiplication of the bird of paradise is the only method of propagation that can be done at home. It is done in June, before the vegetative rest, extracting the set of roots and dividing them with a sharp knife so that each section is equipped with at least one leaf. They should then be dusted with a fungicide product and placed in individual jars kept moist, in a bright but sheltered position.

Sterile irrigation

Irrigazione sterlizia This plant has great water needs. The substrate, therefore, must always be moist: let’s irrigate every time the surface is dry. An excellent method is also to immerse for about 30 minutes in a basin full of water. The plant will absorb autonomously what is necessary and will be completely rehydrated.

However, it is very important to remember that the witchcraft has the opposite seasonal cycle to ours. It enters into vegetative rest in the middle of summer (July and August, when, in its places of origin, it is winter). In this period it is very important to stop almost completely the watering.


Like all plants from rainforests or tropical areas, it is of fundamental importance for both growth and flowering that there is always high ambient humidity. This helps to avoid both leaf burns and drying out, which sometimes occurs as temperatures rise.

It will be useful to intervene several times a day by vaporizing the leaves, possibly with rainwater or demineralized water. Let’s always avoid, however, to wet the flowers, seen that they spoil very easily.

Another possibility is to place under pots full of wet expanded clay near the pot.

Sterile fertilization

strelizia Fertilization should be carried out weekly from mid-September to June, therefore during the entire growing season.

If our plant is young, it is a good idea to use a product with good amounts of nitrogen and potassium: in this way both vegetative growth and flowering will be stimulated.

On adult plants, on the other hand, it is better to administer nitrogen in very low doses and concentrate more on potassium.

Sterlizia flowering

Fioritura sterlizia It usually blooms in the middle of winter. However, we must bear in mind that it is extremely rare to see young plants blooming. Generally, to get the first flowering you have to wait until the strelitzia has reached at least 4 years of age. It is therefore necessary to have some patience.

Bird of paradise – Strelizia alba: Variety



Flower color

Leaf shape




 Orange and blue-violet


 Up to 1.5 meters

 Southern Africa


 White with dark green spathe


 Up to 6 meters

 South Africa


 Orange and blue


 Up to 2 meters

 South Africa


 Light blue, white, light purple

 Very large, banana-like

 Up to 8 meters

 South Africa

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