Strelitzia

Strelitzia

Strelitzia or “Bird of Paradise” is one of the most unusual herbaceous perennials in the world. The homeland of the plant is Madagascar and Zimbabwe. Strelitzia got its name in honor of the wife of King George III, Princess of Mecklenburg, Charlotte Sophia Mecklenburg-Strelitz. The queen was removed from public affairs, but all her life she patronized the sciences and the royal botanical garden in London. The plant has a very beautiful flower, unusual fruit and stem shape.

Description of Strelitzia

Strelitzia
Strelitzia

Strelitzia looks most beautiful during flowering. The orange flower is similar to the body of an exotic bird, and the green leaves resemble wings. You can also find strelitzia with blue, blue and purple inflorescences. The roots of the plant are pivotal and go deep into the ground. The bud is collected in a bunch, which from afar can be mistaken for a beak. Leaves are leathery, oval in shape with a light blue bloom, their length can reach 200 cm. In one bud there are up to 10 melliferous flowers. Flowering lasts up to six months in natural conditions. If the strelitzia is cut and placed in a vase, it does not fade for up to a month. With proper care of room strelitzia, it will delight the eye with its flowering for a long time. In the open field, the plant is able to survive only in its homeland, in Africa. In our latitudes, flower growers grow strelitzia at home or in indoor greenhouses.

Types of strelitzia

Strelitzia is an evergreen herbaceous perennial. In total, there are 5 types of strelitzia in the world (royal, mountain, reed, white and Nicholas). Only two of them are considered indoor species: royal strelitzia and Nikolai’s strelitzia. Many experienced and novice growers want to grow strelitzia at home because of the incredible decorative properties of the flower. Despite its tropical origin, the plant takes root quite well at home.

Strelitzia reginae

Strelitzia reginae
Strelitzia reginae

The very first strelitzia species known to science was brought to Europe by the English scientist and botanist Francis Masson in 1773. Since then, the plant has gained immense popularity in Western Europe, and in the United States, Strelitzia was made the official symbol of the city of Los Angeles in 1953. If grown in a pot and planted in urban areas, it reaches 1 meter in length and tolerates air pollution and lack of watering. Flowers are oval, up to 40 cm in length, with a hard root. The rhizome is very strong and powerful, and you can even propagate a flower with it. Inflorescences with brown bracts and bright orange petals are similar to some flowering cacti.  Flowers may not fade for more than a month, and with proper care they will bloom constantly. The plant also reacts firmly to periodic pruning.

Strelitzia Nicholas

Strelitzia Nicholas
Strelitzia Nicholas

The species is named after the Russian Emperor Nicholas I, who in the 19th century was the curator of the St. Petersburg Botanical Garden. In its natural environment, this strelitzia can reach 6 meters in length. Grows well in gorges, rainforests and mountainous areas. The most widespread in South Africa in the Cape Province. The plant is so similar to a banana that the locals call it “wild banana Natalia”. The leaves are very large, shiny and green. Strelitzia Nicholas is not suitable for home conditions due to its enormous size, to which it grows due to a long period of growth. The trunk is covered with scars from fallen leaves.

Mountain strelitzia (Strelitzia caudata)

Mountain strelitzia (Strelitzia caudata)
Mountain strelitzia (Strelitzia caudata)

This huge tropical plant can safely claim the laurels of large tropical trees. The mountain strelitzia grows up to 10 m in length, and its trunk is bare, which makes the perennial look like a palm tree or a banana. The white flowers are very large (up to 45 cm) and resemble a boat in their shape. The bracts of the plant are red, and the inner flowers are blue. Stipules cover the fused corollas. It is a very rare tree-like species.

Strelitzia Augustus, or white strelitzia (Strelitzia alba)

Strelitzia Augustus, or white strelitzia (Strelitzia alba)
Strelitzia Augustus, or white strelitzia (Strelitzia alba)

A beautiful perennial, also called Strelitzia Augustus. The leaves reach 1 meter in length and are elliptical. The plant has axillary peduncles and hidden lanceolate bracts. The petals are white, flowering from May to July. When the petals wither, they release a special box in which the plant’s seeds are stored. Filaments of stamens are small, only up to 3 cm, together with anthers – up to 5.5 cm. Unfortunately, the species is on the verge of extinction and is listed in the Red Book of African Plants. Florists also bred a hybrid of royal and white strelitzia.

Strelitzia reed (Strelitzia juncea)

Strelitzia reed (Strelitzia juncea)
Strelitzia reed (Strelitzia juncea)

It grows in the east of South Africa, but is very different from its relatives in its appearance. Reed strelitzia tolerates cold, drought and temperature extremes well. Outwardly, orange flowers strongly resemble royal strelitzia, but they cannot be confused. Needle leaves with a waxy bloom grow up to 2 meters in length and are devoid of leaf plates. This tropical beauty is also on the verge of extinction due to its immense popularity in the world. Professional florists are now trying to preserve the species and are engaged in artificial breeding and pollination of the plant.

Reproduction of strelitzia

Kinds

Many species of the Bird of Paradise are on the verge of extinction, and strelitzia in flower shops is very difficult to find. This is why plant propagation skills come in handy. You can get your own copy of tropical exoticism both by sowing seeds and using vegetative division. All types of plants are not very well suited for keeping in an ordinary apartment due to their large size, but this does not bother flower growers. Before purchasing seeds, it is very important to look at the date of collection and make sure they are in good condition. Purchased seeds are often not suitable for planting. They can also deteriorate during transport. Only reed strelitzia does not propagate by bush crushing, but even it can be tried to propagate by division. Strelitzia, like other flowering houseplants from the tropics, reproduces best in conditions close to natural.

Growing strelitzia from seeds

Growing from seeds

Before buying seeds, you need to look at how much time has passed since they were packed. If they are older than 6 months, then seedlings may not be. It is better to buy seeds in large services and carefully familiarize yourself with the sowing material. It is better not to consider wet, dirty and heterogeneous specimens so as not to waste money on the wind. Strelitzia can be planted at any time of the year, the main thing is to observe the temperature regime and the necessary conditions.

To live in open soil, you need a special soil and a greenhouse, because temperatures below +10 degrees are destructive for the plant. The greenhouse must constantly maintain high humidity, a temperature of at least 22 degrees and 12-hour lighting. The best time to plant in a greenhouse is the end of May. When it’s warm outside, the greenhouse can be opened to let the strelitzia breathe.

Seed preparation

Training

The seeds must be prepared for planting and soaked in warm water for two days to stimulate their activity. After the seeds have swollen, the remnants of the fruit must be removed from them. Confident and experienced growers can try special phytohormones. It is necessary to use such additives only after carefully reading the instructions and preferably after consulting with specialists. Special phytohormones for strelitzia are best suited. But be prepared for the fact that both methods do not guarantee 100% seed germination.

Soil preparation

It is better to purchase the soil in specialized stores, but you can do it yourself. To prepare the necessary substrate yourself, you will need peat, compost and sand. Mix all the ingredients in a 1: 1: 1 ratio, 500 grams of each ingredient. For more nutrition, you can add a little peat bog and don’t forget about drainage.

Pot for strelitzia

You can make a container for strelitzia yourself, but store-bought pots are also great. In the store, you should choose a small pot, from 200 to 300 ml. The main thing is that there is a drainage hole in it, otherwise the water will stagnate and the roots will rot. Strelitzia can be safely put in a regular plastic cup. Fill it ⅔ with the substrate and make some holes at the bottom to drain the water. To grow an adult plant, you will need a large pot, because strelitzia is a very large crop that is unlikely to fit in an ordinary apartment without special conditions.

Sowing

Sowing

Before sowing, it is necessary to moisten the soil with boiling water. Fill the substrate with water and wait until it flows out through the holes or is absorbed into the drain. Then wait until the soil has cooled down a little and pour a thin (no more than 2 cm) layer of sand on top. The seeds should be planted in this layer of sand. If you are not sure about the quality of the planting material, you can plant up to 3 seeds in one container.

Warm and nutritious soil will be the ideal support for the plant. After all the actions, you need to be patient. Usually, the first shoots appear in 3-5 months, but there were cases of active growth even 9 months after planting. If the material is of poor quality or the soil was prepared incorrectly, you can not wait for seedlings. After the seeds have been planted, the container is covered with glass or plastic and placed in a well-lit place with diffused light.

Seedling care and transplanting

After germination, the plant is transplanted into a larger pot, but before that, the soil must be frequently and abundantly moistened. You need to water strelitzia with warm, settled water. There is no need to feed before transplanting, since at this stage the plant receives everything it needs from the substrate. The “Bird of Paradise” is transplanted into a larger container with a margin, so that when the plant grows up, it does not rest against the walls of the container. If the strelitzia grows well, then it needs to be replanted once a year. When transplanting, try to carefully handle the root system, since, despite its apparent strength, it is very fragile. The east and west windowsill are the perfect place for an exotic beauty. The first flowering can be expected for several years.

Vegetative breeding method

Vegetative

Strelitzia is also propagated by dividing the root and dividing the shoots. Once flowering is complete, it is the ideal time to reproduce by dividing the root. Above all, you need to prepare spacious pots with a good drainage system. The part to be divided must be healthy and at least 20 cm long. The substrate is needed exactly the same as for seed propagation. For side shoots propagation, remove an adult strelitzia from the ground along with an earthen clod and carefully peel the roots. Cut off diseased or dry parts, choose the healthiest plant shoot, cut it off and treat the cut points on both the mother plant and the daughter plant with fungicide or coal chips. It is desirable that the root has several shoots. Transplant part of the plant into a separate pot and store at a temperature not lower than + 22 degrees.

Strelitzia care

Care

The plant is not too difficult to grow at home, but a few basic rules are best to remember. The bush needs diffused sunlight, so oriental windows are best suited for it. When transferring to another place, make sure that the direction of the light is the same as the previous one. You don’t have to rotate the pot to “find the shadow side of the light”. This will only aggravate the situation and may lead to leaf collapse. Strelitzia is not only good for the difference between night and day temperatures, but also accelerates its growth because of this. In winter, you need to insulate the pot with polystyrene or “cover” it from the cold, if the room is poorly heated.

Direct sunlight can damage it, as can strong winds. Water the plant sparingly, but often enough so that the substrate does not have time to dry out. A periodic warm shower will remind Strelitzia of warm tropical monsoons and will not harm the plant in any way. In winter, the frequency of watering can be reduced slightly, and the humidity can be left unchanged. Never leave the bush near the battery. In the morning, you can wipe the dust off the leaves and additionally moisten them with a small spray to keep them dry in the evening.

Once every 10 days, Strelitzia is fed with organic and inorganic additives. During winter and dormancy, feeding is stopped, and a temperature close to that of a tropical winter is organized for the plant. After wilting, the peduncle must be removed on its own in order to stimulate the appearance of new buds. Of course, if you are not going to pollinate the plant yourself. There should be a lot of light after removal, and let the relative coolness remain in the house (not lower than +12 degrees).

In winter, in our latitudes of Strelitzia, artificial lighting will certainly be needed, for example, fluorescent lamps. In its natural habitat, the plant receives light 12 hours a day, and with a lighting frequency of 6-7 hours, strelitzia will begin to hurt and may even die. If you want to quickly see beautiful flowers, but they still do not appear, a gentle shake can help. Reduce watering by reducing the amount of light, or try drastically changing the environment and moving the arrow to a different window. This should only be done if you are sure that the plant is completely healthy.

Pests and diseases

Strelitzia Nicholas

The bird of paradise is a fairly resistant plant and is not susceptible to disease, but some pests or improper care can lead to undesirable consequences. The main enemy of strelitzia, like many other ornamental plants, is the spider mite. Its presence can be noticed with the naked eye: cobwebs appear on the leaves, they look unhealthy and pale. Also on the list of enemies are the scale insect and mealybug. All growers are advised to deal with them with acaricidal agents. If the leaves are covered with a layer of sticky white mucus, then a scabbard has started up on them. But you can quickly get rid of it with a sponge, Aktar and a solution of laundry soap.

White spots on the leaves are a sure sign of thrips. In this case, you need to remove the diseased and affected leaves, carefully wipe the healthy ones and treat the entire plant with an insecticide. Treat the leaves with Aktara and repeat the procedure after 2-3 weeks. Too concentrated a solution will only harm, so carefully follow the instructions on the package. If you water the plant too often or put in poor drainage, the roots will rot and a characteristic odor will appear. Yellowed foliage is a signal of low room temperature, lack of light and fertilizers.

If the plant grows too slowly, check the pot, maybe your pet is just cramped. The edges of the leaves often dry out, which means that the room is too dry. Place a humidifier near the bush or remove unnecessary heat sources from the room. Darkening of the roots is also possible, which can be caused by a fungus. In this case, adjust the watering regime: the colder it is outside, the less watering. You can try to remove inorganic fertilizers from the diet for a while. Do not move the plant away from a fixed light source during bud formation. This can lead to the death of the bud, which will then need to be removed on its own.


Top Asked Questions

Why do strelitzia leaves curl?

Move closer to the light, strelitzia is light-requiring, you only need to protect a little from hot summer direct sunlight. And be sure to provide an influx of fresh air, otherwise, it will be hit by a tick, which can cause yellowing of the leaves and their curling.

Why is my strelitzia leaves turning brown?

Brown spots in strelitzia appear both from severe dryness and waterlogging. The second is more likely and may appear from a lack of light and too frequent watering.

They love the light of strelitzia, far from a window, even a southern one, in Russian climatic conditions it is not worth it. Strelitzia will receive bright diffused lighting in spring-summer 1-1.5 meters from the window at the level of the window sill without the presence of tulle/blinds and a balcony/loggia. This plant is afraid only of the scorching, scorching sun and high temperatures on the windowsill behind the glass without additional air ventilation. With the onset of autumn, the plant is transferred to the lightest window or artificially illuminated for up to 12 hours a day.

Watering is carried out after the soil dries out about half a finger in-depth, provided there is good lighting. The less sun the plant receives, the deeper the soil should dry out. Strelitzia does not like constant dampness and complete dryness; when caring for this plant, it is necessary to find a middle ground in the watering mode.

Increase lighting, adjust the watering frequency.

Why is my strelitzia not flowering?

When transplanting plants into a pot, there will be no larger flowering volume until the roots have almost completely occupied the entire volume of the soil.

There will also be no flowering if the lighting is insufficient, if the plant is not receiving nutrition. Keep the arrows near the west or south window. You can hang a phytolamp over the plant.

Fertilize with fertilizer for flowering indoor plants in the spring and summer 2-3 times a month, in the fall and winter once a month.

You can use drugs that stimulate flowering – Pollen, Ovary, Bud.

Strelitzia when do they flower?

According to the seed producer, Strelitzia grown from seed blooms for 3-4 years. If the strelitzia is planted from the mother plant, then flowering occurs in 4-5 years. Although Strelitzia tolerates shading well, it still grows best in bright light. She needs the soil very nutritious and the pot is spacious.

Comments

  1. M

    Michelle on December 2021

    My strelitzia, grown from seeds, is 5-6 years old. It has not bloomed yet!

    1. L

      Linda on December 2021

      At home, Strelitzia grows during the dry season. It lasts 3-4 months.
      It is during this dry time that flower buds form in the plant.
      Therefore, an artificially created drought is an indispensable element of plant care. For flowering in summer – arrange a period of drought in winter. Want to bloom in winter, dry in summer. Well dry, that doesn’t suggest it dry to death.

  2. E

    Eva on January 2020

    If you decide to transplant Strelitzia into a spacious pot, then be careful with the roots. They are fleshy, but very fragile. If you damage the roots during transplantation, then the flowering period will be postponed for another year or two, while it will recover.

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