Today I have decided to start a new project – in hope that soon it will be spring. As the title says my project will be to start Bird of Paradise (Lat.: Strelitzia reginae) from seed!
It is a bit risky project, because it might sound easy for the first try, but where I live the weather conditions are not the best for this plant. In case you are not familiar, let me introduce you to this plant.
Strelitzia reginae is a monocotyledonous flowering plant indigenous to South Africa (the Cape Provinces and KwaZulu-Natal). Common names include strelitzia, crane flower or bird of paradise, though these names are also collectively applied to other species in the genus Strelitzia. Its scientific name commemorates the British queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. The species is native to South Africa but naturalized in Mexico, Belize, Bangladesh, Madeira Islands and Juan Fernández Islands off the coast of Chile.
The plant grows to 2 m (6.6 ft) tall, with large, strong leaves 25–70 cm (9.8–27.6 in) long and 10–30 cm (3.9–11.8 in) broad, produced on petioles up to 1 m (39 in) long. The leaves are evergreen and arranged in two ranks, making a fan-shaped crown. The flowers stand above the foliage at the tips of long stalks. The hard, beak-like sheath from which the flower emerges is termed the spathe. This is placed perpendicular to the stem, which gives it the appearance of a bird’s head and beak; it makes a durable perch for holding the sunbirds which pollinate the flowers. The flowers, which emerge one at a time from the spathe, consist of three brilliant orange sepals and three purplish-blue or white petals. Two of the blue or white petals are joined together to form an arrow-like nectary. When the sunbirds sit to drink the nectar, the petals open to cover their feet in pollen.
So after this basic and general introduction, let me explain what I will do as a start. It is very important when you acquire your seeds to check the date. The fresher the seeds are the better, and germination has a higher chance.
As a start, you need to pinch off the orange top from the seeds.
Now you have 3 possibilities:
1. Put it in soil
2. Soak it in warm water for couple of hours
3. Soak it in warm water for 24 hours (I choose this)
After 24 hours, you can take out the seeds from the water and plant them in moist but well-draining, fertile soil. Bare in mind that we are talking about a slow growing plant, so germination can occur between 1-6 months! The plant likes warmth and sun, although at the beginning phase keep it in a warm (about 20 °C) and dark area. The plant loves water! Keep it moist, all the time – but does not like to swim in water. When you see the plant emerging from the soil, you can put it to a sunny location. During summer you can give it direct sunlight – imagine it can be found in Africa, where it gets pretty strong sunlight, so do not worry. It will not burn. The other key ingredient the plant needs is fertilizer. As often as possible, fertilize it (dosage can be found on your fertilizer product’s label, but usually every 2 weeks you can fertilize it during the growing period and once a month during winter)!
Finally what you will need is a lot of patience. As I have written earlier it can take months to germinate, and you will not see flowers for a while. It takes 2-3 years to get the beautiful and unique flowers, until then the plant is focusing to produce more and more leaves.
It is a great challenge for me, and I am looking forward to keep you updated. It will be a long journey, but I hope one day, I will see the result and I can share it with you!