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Coaxing Bird of Paradise into Bloom

Bird of Paradise

Few plants add the tropical look to the landscape as well as the bird-of-paradise. Regretfully they can also be a disappointment growing lots of foliage but no flowers.

Folklore says you may have to wait five to seven years for the first blooms - perhaps it just seems that long for anxious gardeners. It does appear the bird-of-paradise has to reach a certain stage of maturity before it begins to flower. In most landscapes it's more like a two or three year wait.


Gardeners can help their plants reach the blooming stage with some preplant preparation. Select a sunny site and enrich sandy sites with organic matter plus liberal quantities of manure. Then for the first year or two encourage growth by maintaining a moist soil and applying frequent but light feedings.

After a year or two of good growth use these tips to encourage flowering:

Maintain a 3- to 4-inch layer of mulch under the spread of the foliage.

Water weekly or when ever the surface inch of soil begins to dry.

Feed lightly with a blossom booster type product once in March, June and September.

Avoid dividing all but extra large clumps.

Control scale insects with soap or oil sprays as needed.

When you do get a flower don't be too quick to cut the old stem. Buds contain multiple flower portions that continue to show color even after some of the petals fade.