Strelitzia

Common name: Bird of Paradise

Strelitzia reginae is a native of South Africa and was introduced into Britain in 1773 by Sir Joseph Banks, who named it Strelitzia in honour of Queen Charlotte, wife of George III and Duchess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.

The horizontal green and pink boat-shaped bracts that look like the crest on a bird's head give this flower its common name.

It is a tender evergreen rhizometous perennial that grows to about 900mm (3ft) high and requires indoor cultivation in the UK as it requires a minimum temperature of 10°C to survive.

The flowers appear from late April to May.

Light shade during the summer will prevent scorching of the leaves, and when the temperature reaches 18°- 21°C (65°-70°) ventilate the greenhouse.

The plants should be watered regularly during the growing season, gradually decreasing the amount from September onwards.

Keep the plants virtually dry through the dormancy period.

Cultivation

Week 8: Sow seeds sown in trays/pots of seed compost and germinate at a temperature of 21°- 24°C (70°-75°F)

Prick off the seedlings, when large enough to handle, singly into 75mm (3") pots of potting compost.

Pot up into larger pots as necessary.

Seed-raised plants may take two to three years to reach the flowering stage, some even longer!

Because of this new stock is usually propagated by dividing the plants or by using suckers produced at the base of the plant/s

Week 10: Pot up new stock singly into 250mm (10") pots of John Innes potting compost No. 3 or in the greenhouse border.

Maintain a minimum temperature of 10°C (50°F) in winter.

Week 18: Apply a liquid feed at two week intervals from now until September.

Week 26: Flowering can be encouraged by keeping the plants slightly pot-bound.

Because of this it is advisable to carefully re-pot established plants every two or three years.

Take great care when re-potting to avoid damage to the fleshy roots.

This task should be done after flowering.

Divide/detach rooted shoots and pot up into John Innes potting compost No. 3.





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