Bird of Paradise…and a bit of Aloe!

With the exception of yesterday’s perfect beach day, our recent weather has been consistently humid and intermittently overcast with skies that look like this:

It might rain….or the sun could come out…who knows? 😉

On Sunday, rather than dodge sporadic 10minute monsoon-style rains, I opted to garden inside. 🙂 I organized my March and April plant photos into a bloom gallery you can see by clicking here.

By suppertime, the threat of rain was long past, so I went out to look around.  Evenings like this are my favorites: no watering involved, just an after-supper wander in quiet, pleasant contemplation.

Early Evening, August 12, 2012What you’re seeing in the foreground are fully opened racemes from a summer flowering, spotted aloe. Despite significant time spent in research, I’m still uncertain which of 500+ varieties my pass-along plant might be!  I did, however, find a wonderful 5 page article to share with any interested readers: Aloe ID from A to Z. Check it out for lots of facts and photos!

At the Cutting Garden, I received a surprise 2 years in the making! The tiny 2.5″ potted Bird of Paradise ordered in 2010 from directgardening.com finally matured enough to spike an infloresence!

Strelitzia reginae aka Bird of Paradise

For as far back as I recall, Birds of Paradise have been among my top tropical plants. When I lived in the north–with no chance of growing them outdoors–I made up for it by insisting they appear in EVERY floral arrangement I’d order for special occasions.  Needless to say, I was thrilled to discover they’d thrive in my Florida yard and seeing this first flower spathe was a Red Letter Day!

Bird of Paradise Spathe

You might be surprised at how hard to the touch this beak-like spathe feels!  Note the hint of orange at the angle near the stem. This is the first of 3 brilliant orange sepals and 3 bright blue petals that will emerge one at a time, to form a flower structure that looks like a crest on a bird’s head. The individual flowers open in slow succession, with each lasting approximately a week.

Supposedly, Strelitzia grown in partial shade are said to be talller, with larger flower heads on longer stems, than their full-sun counterparts. Mine seems to be developing in the opposite pattern ➡ although the Cutting Garden is very shaded, this Bird is fairly short. Time will tell if it’s due to immaturity or perhaps a different factor.

Because Strelitzia are rhizomatous, propagation can be done via division or by seed, although I’d not recommend the latter!  Growth from seed is very erratic and may take up to 18 months to germinate. Also, this species blooms best when crowded, so when growing via containers, re-pot only when super-necessary. FYI, Bird-of-Paradise tends to produce more flowers along the outside stems, so don’t be alarmed to see little (or nothing!) happening in the middle of the plant!

Until next time….

🙂 Happy Gardening!

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8 thoughts on “Bird of Paradise…and a bit of Aloe!

  1. How wonderful to grow Bird Of Paradise !!
    and this will make you laugh, when I saw your words “sporadic 10minute monsoon-style rains” I remembered going to Florida for the first time, in fact it was my first time outside of Europe, I was a baby 17 yearold and remember my first Florida rain. I was out on the Keys and wow, it rained, but while everyone else ran for cover I danced about in the street – you see the rain was WARM, a total novelty for this British kid 🙂

  2. What an informative post! I love seeing the plants that I grow inside thriving in a natural environment. I traveled to Grand Turk Island several years ago, and was amazed that the “grass” in their cemetery was actually the “houseplant” I call Mother-in-Law’s Tongue! Thanks!

  3. The Bird of Paradise flower hold a special place in my heart. You have some really exotic and amazing flowers and plants. 🙂

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