This tropical plant in the same taxonomic order as the banana tree loves being the center of attention, but is surprisingly low maintenance. Bill “Farmer Bill” Tall has seen them grow impressively large all across San Diego in his 48 years as owner of City Farmers Nursery. Here, he fills out our tip sheet on growing a bird of paradise outside.
Green Thumb: Optional
This plant gets very wide, so you must install it with room to grow. Large species like Strelitzia nicolai can grow upward of 20 feet tall, while small species like Strelitzia reginae top out around five feet. Patience is essential to growing this plant and maintenance mostly entails trimming dead branches for aesthetics.
Full sun is the way to go if you want your plant to grow the biggest and fastest, though it can withstand partial shade, and smaller varieties don’t mind growing inside. The less sun it receives, the narrower it will be.
Whenever the soil’s dry is when you want to water your bird of paradise, usually every one to two weeks. Farmer Bill’s pro tip: Dig a trough or moat around the root ball and fill it with water and fertilizer to encourage the roots to reach for their drink.
It all starts with the soil, and yours should be equal parts compost, clay, and organic matter. (City Farmers Nursery offers free soil testing!) When you transplant a bird of paradise into the ground, make sure to mix a bit of soil from the nursery pot with the ground soil to ensure an easy transition.
From $10 for a one-gallon pot
3110 Euclid Avenue, City Heights