All about the Strelitzia
The Strelitzia boasts a deluxe display of broad, glossy banana-shaped leaves that creates a rich, graceful statement at your home with a touch of tropical flair. In nature the plant gets intense orange-yellow and blue shade flowers between its robust leaves. They stretch towards the sky and capture everyone’s attention.
Due to its unique leaf shape and vibrant flower colours, the Strelitzia goes by many names. It is commonly known as ‘bird of paradise’ or ‘bird of paradise flower’ because its blooms are made up of three bright orange petals and three blue petals fused together to form a single bud. It is also known as Crane flower and Orange strelitzia.
Different types of the Strelitzia
Strelitzia is a member of the Strelitziaceae family and comprises 5 main species in the Strelitzia genus. These include:
- Strelitzia Alba
- Strelitzia Caudata
- Strelitzia Juncea
- Strelitzia Nicolai
- Strelitzia Reginae
Origin of the Strelitzia
Strelitzia originates from South Africa, where it’s commonly known as the Crane flower, and has been growing at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, South Africa, since 1773. It can also be found in Florida, southern California, and other tropical to semi-tropical realms. The Strelitzia came to Europe in the 18th century as a mere ornamental plant then reached Germany at the beginning of the 19th century.
The name, Strelitzia, was given after Queen Charlotte, the Duchess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz by Sir Joseph Banks, the director of the royal gardens.
How to take care of the Strelitzia
Strelitzia’s leaves emit enough moisture, which is why they need a lot of water, especially in the growing summer and spring seasons. A consistent watering schedule will help you in this regard. It won’t tolerate wet feet and overwatering causes it to develop crunchy brown leaves.
Consider using rainwater, when possible, or distilled water for this plant as water containing high salt content could burn its leaves.
- Sunlight exposure: Being tropical in nature, the Strelitzia loves the sun and can stand direct sunlight. As a houseplant, windows facing east or west are the best spots for Strelitzia.
- Soil necessities: A well-drained organic soil is ideal for your Strelitzia. When potting, use well-drained potting soil with an addition of compost to ensure fertility.
- Temperature requirements: Keep the temperature as high as 18° - 21°C during daytime and 10°C during nighttime for the healthy growth of your Strelitzia.
- Humidity preferences: Strelitzia prefers high humidity, hence allow daily misting, which will also help remove dust from its glossy leaves. Keep it away from air vents and drafts.
Strelitzia is a hungry plant and requires nutrition to boost its growth. Fertilize your Strelitzia with a liquid fertilizer diluted to half-strength monthly in the growing summer and spring seasons. There’s no feeding required in the dormant winter and fall seasons.
It grows very quickly and demands lots of food for the production of healthy foliage. Underfeeding can damage the general appearance of this plant. Overfeeding it will lead to more foliage with little or no flowering.
Along with its stunning visual appeal, the Strelitzia has a tremendous advantage of cleansing the surrounding air. Its slender green leaves allow air circulation and purification and contribute to providing a healthy environment for you and your loved ones.
The Strelitzia is mildly toxic. The plant itself is considered a caution, but the flower is highly toxic to everyone. However, it rarely blooms flowers, so its toxicity level won’t be as high as compared to the garden Strelitzia.
Upon ingestion, it can cause nausea, vomiting, and drowsiness in cats and dogs, and dizziness, vomiting, diarrhea, and drowsiness in humans if swallowed in large amounts. Also, the juice of the plant can be mildly irritating.
Propagation of the Strelitzia
A Strelitzia can be propagated by two methods: division and seed germination. Here’s some details of these methods:
Propagation through division
Division is an easy method for the propagation of a Strelitzia. However, this process can disrupt the normal growth cycle of the parent plant, resulting in a year without blooms.
Separate a shoot from a mature plant that has at least three leaves. The larger the plant, the quicker it will bloom flowers. Be cautious in this process to avoid damaging sensitive roots. Place the division in a small, clean pot with a high-quality soil. Let the cuttings heal for a few days, then allow a round of thorough watering.
Propagation through seed germination
This method can take a lot of time to show results. Since the germination ability of Strelitzia decreases rapidly with time, the seeds should be germinated as soon as possible.
The seeds can be bought or gathered from a mature plant. Wash them with water and place them in warm water for 12 hours to 2 days to allow swelling. Finally, press the seeds 2-3 cm into soil located in a pot and put more soil on them. Cover the pot with a transparent bag to increase temperature and reduce evaporation, removing it regularly for ventilation. Remove it permanently once a shoot is visible.