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Plant profile: Strelitzia parvifolia var. juncea

Far less well know than Strelitzia reginae (regular orange) or Strelitzia nicolai (giant white), Strelitzia parvifolia juncea bears the characteristic orange or yellow bird of paradise flowers amid a profusion of reed like leaves. Its an eye catching feature plant for dry, difficult areas.

Many people don't realise that juncea seedlings look similar to reginae seedlings. It is only as the plant gets older that the characteristic broad leaf tops become smaller and then often only at about 3 or 4 years old do they loose their paddle shape and become spear shaped.

Perhaps to make them tough enough to withstand drought, junceas tend to put most of the energy in their early years into producing a ball of succulent roots. If you purchase a juncea in a 200mm pot you will notice that it does not have many leaves, but the roots are likely getting too big for the pot already.

Junceas are significantly slower growing than reginae, making them more expensive to produce. However, their appeal lies in how architecturally striking each plant is and in their amazingly beautiful, prolific flowers. Unlike nicolai, they form a very tight clump so are unlikely to get too big or untidy to manage. Like most strelitzia, you will find that the finished plant height can vary slightly as all strelitzia are seed grown and unique. They are not produced by tissue culture.

If you're looking for a hardy, unusual plant for a sunny dry area, Strelitzia juncea may be the perfect choice.

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