Why You Can’t Get Your Bird Of Paradise To Bloom

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Why You Can't Get Your Bird Of Paradise To Bloom

The Bird of Paradise plant is a native of South Africa and is known by several names, including Strelitzia, Crane Flower, and its scientific name, Strelitzia reginae. Its flowers are a beautiful combination of orange and blue, resembling a bird in flight, which is how it got its name. However, if your Bird of Paradise plant fails to flower, it can be disappointing. This can happen due to several reasons, such as insufficient light, improper repotting, or incorrect watering practices.

It is common for modern living rooms to lack the ideal conditions for this tropical plant. Before giving up, it is important to understand the plant’s natural growth cycle. Birds of Paradise do not follow our human desire for instant gratification; they have their schedule. The plant typically blooms in late fall and continues until late spring, depending on its variety, native climate, and latitude. However, it can take three to four years for the plant to bloom for the first time. But what if it doesn’t bloom even after this period?

Why your bird of paradise is not blooming

bird of paradise plants

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The glorious bird of paradise is a suitable plant for indoor spaces that thrives in a sun-drenched environment, demanding four to six hours of full sun or direct indoor light to unveil its captivating blooms. Limited sunlight means throttled photosynthesis, which is a life-sustaining process that transforms sunlight into chemical energy crucial for growth and, more importantly, mesmerizing blooms.

Bird of paradise plants have a Goldilocks-like watering requirement. Overwatering is a sneakier villain than one might assume, suffocating roots by displacing oxygen and offering an open invitation to root rot. On the contrary, underwatering weakens your plant’s vitality and extinguishes the spark necessary for flowering.

Now, onto nutrition. Similar to a bodybuilder in the peak of training, the bird of paradise devours nutrients with an insatiable hunger, turning them into fuel for growth and blooming. Irregular fertilization, an incorrect fertilizer, or subpar soil compromises this vital nutritional inflow. Remember, certain external conditions like a cold winter could trigger a dormancy phase where the plant conserves its resources, resulting in a brief hiatus from flowering. However, worry less; the performance will resume with warmer days. Lastly, repotting a mature bird of paradise (older than four years) might seem like a caring gesture, but this typically halts the flowering cycle in its tracks.

How to get your bird of paradise to bloom

watering blooming bird of paradise

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When faced with a bird of paradise that refuses to blossom, it’s time to start sleuthing and figure out the cause. If your indoor plant is sun-starved, opt for a relocation. A south-facing window often does the trick. And for house layouts devoid of sunlight? Grow lights can help. This houseplant abhors the idea of moving home (aka repotting) but benefits from an annual top-dressing with high-quality compost. That said, watering a bird of paradise plant has an uncanny resemblance to Goldilocks’s adventure — it should be just right. You must not drown it in excessive liquid love, nor should you leave it aching in a parching thirst for attention. When the top two inches of its soil feels dry, make it rain.

Bound roots are every indoor plant parent’s recurring nightmare. Contrary to popular belief, however, mature bird of paradise plants are outliers; they enjoy their root-bound status. Stir her out of coziness, and you may witness a heart-wrenching delay in flowering by three years.

Your endeavor to encourage flowering should extend to fertilization. Imagine a balanced diet; too many vitamins in a day can be a bad thing, right? According to the University of Florida, a quarterly dose of fertilizer during growing phases fits the bill. Osmocote Smart-Release Plant Food on Amazon is a worthy option here.

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Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.