The Best Time To Fertilize Your Bird Of Paradise Plant (And What To Use)

Some people imagine a bird in flight, others see a regal head plume when spying a bird of paradise plant. With an exotic look like that, these plants have got to be hard to grow, right? Not necessarily. In the right conditions, they can flourish, even in container gardens, and they'll share their showy blooms with you if you treat them right. Part of that babying includes fertilizing them regularly during their growth season from about March to October. There are actually several different types of bird of paradise plants and the fertilizing schedule is a bit different for each one.

It's hard to know everything about bird of paradise before planting them, since there are nuances to work through in every climate and growing situation. But the bird of paradise is indeed a good plant for indoor growing or outdoors in USDA zones 10 to 11. With some practice-makes-perfect experience, you can nurture your own bird of paradise to enjoy for both its beauty as a plant and as a source for cut flowers to use in arrangements. Learning when and how to fertilize them will yield healthy plants and the most colorful blooms.

More on when to fertilize bird of paradise plants

The colorful variation most people associate with the name bird of paradise, Strelitzia reginae, has orange and purple flowers and foliage with a bluish green tinge. This particular variety should be fertilized once every three months during its peak growing period if planted outdoors, but every two weeks if kept indoors. Scale that back to once each month in the winter. Mandela's Gold is a hybrid of Strelitzia reginae that has yellow flowers instead of orange. These equally pretty plants require fertilizer every two weeks during growth periods and once a month in the summertime. 

Lastly, if you're growing Strelitzia Nicolai, the tree version of bird of paradise with lovely white blooms, be prepared to fertilize your plant once a month when it's young. These trees don't need fertilizer when they're mature unless you're purposely aiming to grow a humongous one.

What to use to fertilize your bird of paradise

One of the things to keep in mind about bird of paradise plants is that they tend to like formulas with a 1:1:1 ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. With Mandela's Gold, however, you may need to tweak the fertilizer to a 3:1:5 gradual releasing formula every other month if you can't get your bird of paradise to bloom.

One natural type of fertilizer providing a perfect 1:1:1 blend is cow manure widely available where gardening supplies are sold. This, along with blood meal, makes a good top dressing for bird of paradise plants. You can also use granular landscape fertilizers when growing these plants indoors or out in your garden following package directions. One thing you'll want to remember is to water the plants not only after you apply the fertilizer, but before you begin, too. Take care not to get fertilizer on the leaves or blooms as well. If you start to notice leaf burn on your plant or the growth seems to grind to a halt, those are both signs of too much fertilizer. A layer of white dust, essentially salt, on the top of the soil is another indicator. If you see any of these warning signs, flush the plant with water, allow more time between fertilizing, and cut away any burned leaves as a recovery measure. Keeping these fertilization tips in mind, you too can grow a healthy bird of paradise in your home or garden.