bird of paradise flower
"Bird of Paradise Flower" - Wikimedia Commons

May is spring's final exit and summer is anxiously waiting in the wings eager to ride the heat wave of flamboyance.

by Sharon Asakawa

Basking in summer’s warmth, there are few flowers more alluring in form and color than the bird of paradise, Strelitzia reginae with its pointed waxy beak, three erect orange petals, and blue spiked corolla resembling a royal crown of tropical plumage.

Where temperatures remain mild year-round, this South African native proclaims its bold presence in tropical settings. It also makes a superb cut flower because of its longevity and its spectacular form, especially in highly stylized arrangements such as Ikebana displays. Another plus is when the cut flower’s initial bloom is spent, simply remove the withered flower, reach in, and carefully lift the new flower out of the beaked sheath.

Even when not in flower, this clumping, herbaceous perennial shows off its impressively large, deep green, glossy leaves that are three to four feet long with distinctive midribs. Display these royal “birds” in large pots or plant directly in the ground and use them as colorful architectural focal points in the patio, poolside, or entryway provided there is full sun.

Although it does not tolerate cold, it is still an easy plant to maintain in mild winter areas since it withstands drought, heat, and wind. For regions with frigid winters, grow in pots so they can be moved to more protected areas or indoors where there is bright light until spring’s warmth returns.

For June, the Bird of Paradise is the stuff of flamboyant summer dreams. Don’t try to resist, just give in to its tropical allure and find paradise!

Plant Care 101: Bird of Paradise