Strelitzias are also known as Bird of Paradise or Crane Flowers. There are five species, all from South Africa. We grow two of the species, as well as some variations of those two:
Strelitzia reginae is the most popular of the species as it’s upright leaves and striking flowers lend themselves well to modern and traditional gardens. It’s size too is very suitable, as it grows to about 1.5m. We also stock a dwarf form that reaches only 1m. The flowers of S. reginae are orange with a splash of purple, with the exception of a hybrid called “Mandela’s Gold” where the orange is replaced with yellow.
Strelitzia juncea, also known as the rush, reed or narrow leaved Strelitzia is also a compact plant, growing to 1–2 m high. It’s flowers resemble the S. reginae flowers, but it’s leaves are narrow and reed-like. It is said to be both drought and cold tolerant.
The other species are S. nicolai, alba and caudata. They resemble banana trees, with some growing over 10m.
In the garden Strelitzias are very tolerant of poor soil, although they do prefer good drainage. They have large succulent roots, making them awkward though not impossible to transplant. They can be grown in pots in any good potting mix.
Water and nutrition
In the garden Strelitzias generally don’t need added chemical fertilisers, although they will benefit from some compost, manure or other organic fertilisers from time to time. Potted Strelitzias should be given some extra fertilizer, as potting mixes quickly run out of nutrients. Most general purpose organic or chemical controlled release fertilisers are fine.
Whilst they are drought tolerant, they prefer to have plenty of water over the summer growing months and to be kept drier over winter.
Strelitzias can tolerate a wide range of temperatures but should be protected from heavy frost as it will damage the leaves. They do need sun to flower well, but a position where they get sun for part of the day and then periods of shade is fine.
Strelitzia reginae will grow to 1.5m, the exception being the dwarf variety “Minibird” that will only reach about 1m. Strelitzia juncea will reach about 1.5m to 2m. Allow about a 1.5m diameter for both.
Pests and diseases
Strelitzias tend to be disease and pest free. They can be troubled by fungal problems and root/crown rot if they are too damp and the soil is not draining well, and occasionally they can be attacked by scale insects, but both problems are rare if the plants are in a good free-draining soil or potting mix.