Saturday, March 20, 2010

Bird of paradise

In my opinion, no tropical garden should be without the Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae). Although native to South Africa, this plant species has managed to thrive well in humid, tropical conditions.

The foliage alone is enough reason to grow this plant in the garden. But the flowers should be the ultimate goal. They are handsome in stature, uniquely shaped, like the head of a proud crane bird sporting a colorful plumage. No wonder its also called "Crane Flower".

The foliage and blooms of the Bird of Paradise are prized items in the cutflower industry. Floral arrangements which include them do not come cheap. After all, apart from their beauty, they have an exotic appeal as well.

We have several clumps of this plant in the garden nursery. Although already mature when we first bought them and have been in our garden nursery for over a year now, they have never graced us with even a single flower. Nevertheless, the foliage are healthy and they are thriving well where they are planted.

It is just lately that I found out that they should be placed in bright sun for the flowers to develop. And if foliage is what you desire, plant them in the shade. Aha! So that's why ours have great foliage but no flowers.

When the time comes to relocate them to their more permanent location I will have them placed in an area where they will get the most sun exposure. Then we'll see if flowers will develop. For now they will remain in the nursery, safe from the harsh heat and drought brought by 'El Niño'.