A Gardening Journal

Today in the Garden of a Lifetime: Yellow-flowered Bird of Paradise

The regular orange-petaled form of bird of paradise is a space-hogging cliché, but I happily tend an ever-increasing clump of this rare yellow form, 'Mandela's Gold'. With "birds," the flowers are the thing. More is definitely more—and more, more often, the ultimate fantasy. I'm never less than thrilled when a bloom spike appears but, as below, in April in the greenhouse? No one but me sees it first-hand.

 

Strelitzia reginae Mandelas Gold 041515 640

 

True, the peak bloom season for bird of paradise is Winter through Spring. For this clump to not begin flowering until April, then, is already an impressive delay. But established clumps can be in flower at almost any time, year round. Perhaps the blooms of a clump that flowers June through September, when the plant has been brought out to the garden, aren't produced as a result of delaying tactics at all. Maybe they're additional spikes, not long-held-back Winter and Spring ones. For Summer flowering, does Strelitzia reginae need nothing more than hearty encouragement?

 

If this is the case, I'll want to change how I've been handling my clump. Until now, I had stopped watering almost entirely from December through February; but, instead, I could water once or twice a month. I'd placed the container of 'Mandela's Gold' right on the gravel floor of the greenhouse; but I could elevate it into the somewhat warmer middle range. It has always received reasonable sun in Winter; but by elevating the pot, the plant wouldn't be shaded by adjacent plants in early morning and late afternoon. 

 

One thing I won't have to try is to repot my clump in a larger container. In the garden or in a container, bird of paradise flowers best when it's well established—when the roots are profuse and extend deep into the soil. Repotting is often necessary only when the slowly-expanding clump fractures its container. What I could do, though, is sink the bottom of the container a few inches into a garden bed each Summer, so that, at least for those warm months, new roots could extend through the pot's drainage holes into the surrounding soil. Plus, I'll fertilize liberally with fish emulsion at each Summer watering: Strelitzia is reported as responding very well to heavy feeding when in active growth.

 

Stay tuned, I hope, for a post of this clump in full flower in August.

 

 

Here's how to grow bird-of-paradise.

 
 
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