Giant Bird of Paradise
If you are looking for a brilliant foliage plant, Strelitzia nicolai with its huge leaves is certainly one that will impress.
Strelitzia nicolai are the ‘Giant Bird of Paradise’ plant, reaching up to 10m, native to South Africa. These are really a great plant in any tropical themed garden if you have the room.
In Australia Strelitzia nicolai will grow as far south as Melbourne the main requirement being a frost free position.
They have the same large ‘bird like’ flowers as their smaller relatives Strelitzia reginae, not as neat, but spectacular. Large tropical look foliage, looks a lot like a banana foliage. Remember that in time these plants can get to a height of 5m +.
Strelitzia nicolai Planting suggestions and care
Happy in a large container or in the ground, these plants do have a fairly vigorous root system. They are best planted where they have a little room to grow, away from building foundations, paths and fences. They are sometimes grown indoors in shopping centres. Protection from winds will help keep foliage in excellent condition.
Coping well with full sun to part shade, as long as drainage is good they will be strong growers in a humus rich soil. We have seen them growing in the foothills of Dandenong ranges outside of Melbourne where they flower happily.
Watering will depend on location and climate. We do have one growing that we have actually never watered, so we are guessing that water only when dry in the answer to that.
In poorer soils fertilize with an all purpose slow release type fertilizer . Water young plants with a liquid seaweed fertilizer. Growth rate is reasonably fast but will depend on climate and conditions. Little care or pruning is needed other than the removal of old foliage to ‘tidy up’ the plant. As the tall stems age, they will need to removed and the new growth allowed to take over.
Propagation of Strelitzia nicolai is from seed (very slow to germinate) or by carefully removing the offsets or suckers. These can be placed directly into the ground or into containers. Water in well with your favourite seaweed fertilizer.
Strelitzia nicolai are available for sale from the following nurseries.
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