One of the quickest ways to add the tropical look to your landscape is with a bird of paradise planting. Just the leaves are unusual taking a spear shape and a blue green color. But what most gardeners enjoy the most is the blossoms that resemble a bird in flight.
Here lies the problem. The bird of paradise is a reluctant bloomer at least at an early age. You are probably not going to find them in bloom at the garden centers. In fact many add an artificial flower just to remind you of the real beauty. One bit of folklore says you have to wait five to seven years to get your first bloom but you can rush this along a little.
The plants do need time to mature so don't expect the first blooms for at least a year or two after planting in a full sun to lightly shaded location. It's best to keep them well fed with a general fertilizer application every 6 to 8 weeks during the warmer weather. Also maintain a moist soil and add several inches of mulch to the plantings site.
After the bird of paradise produces lots of new growth it's time to put it on a lean diet to encourage blooms. Coax out the flower with these tips.
- Reduce waterings to when the surface soil begins to dry to the touch.
- Feed once in March, June and September with a blossom booster fertilizer.
- Avoid disturbing the plants by forming divisions or moving them to a new location.
- Prune out dead shoots and trim back other nearby plants that might be affecting growth.
- Control white scale insects on the foliage with an oil spray.
When the buds do appear get ready for weeks of great color. Each bud consists of up to six blossoms. Pick off the faded blooms but don't remove the flowering stalk until it begins to decline.