If you’ve fallen in love with bird of paradise plants but live in a cooler climate, you can grow these tropical beauties as indoor plants.
Given enough sunlight and the right conditions, the plant will put on a vibrant display of flowers, giving your home interior an atmosphere of tropical bliss.
Here in Alaska, I could use a little tropical flair inside my house during the end of winter. Even if the flowers don’t bloom as fast as they would outside, you’ll have luscious, green, banana leaf-like foliage to enjoy all winter.
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In this guide, we’ll share everything you need to know to successfully grow bird of paradise indoors.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
There are five species of bird of paradise in the Strelizia genus, and not all of them are suitable for growing indoors.
S. Nikolai or S. Larger species like alba grow up to 30 feet tall, which makes them difficult to grow in your home unless you live in a mansion with a huge, well-lit foyer.
Since most of us don’t have this luxury, make sure you choose the common bird of paradise, S. reginae, which only grows up to six feet tall.
If you buy a plant from a store that is in a nursery planter, the first thing you’ll need to do is repot it.
Find a pot that is at least 12 inches wide and deep if you have a small plant. For a larger plant, choose a container that is at least 34 inches deep and wide.
You’ll need to make sure there are holes in the bottom for drainage, and since you’re growing it indoors, you’ll need a drainage dish to make sure water doesn’t seep out onto your floor. .
12-inch ceramic planter
I love this 12-inch toffee-colored planter from Home Depot. It comes with a draining dish and matches a lot of decor styles.
To repot, fill a container with two parts potting soil and one part perlite to improve drainage, carefully lift your plant from the nursery planter and place it in the new planter.
Don’t plant your bird of paradise too deeply. Exposure of the tops of the roots can help encourage flowering.
After transplanting, water the plant until you see drainage seeping into the drainage dish and set it as close to a sunny window as possible.
If you’re bringing your outdoor plant indoors for the winter months, learn how to plant it in our guide to winter care for bird of paradise.
Caring for Your Indoor Plants
Bird of paradise plants will not tolerate overly saturated soil, so you will need to be mindful of your watering.
To avoid wet feet, allow two inches of soil to dry out between waterings. During the winter months, the plant will be semi-dormant, and requires less water.
And no matter what, avoid water with a high salt content, as this can burn the leaves. Use filtered water if you need to, or collect rainwater, or melt snow.
When they are grown as houseplants, bird of paradise may need to be fertilized more frequently than plants grown in the garden.
You can fertilize with a balanced 10-10-10 (NPK) liquid fertilizer once a week in the spring and every two weeks in the summer. Don’t fertilize them in fall or winter when growth slows.
In the summer, when daytime temperatures are consistently above 70°F, you may choose to move your plants outside to a sunny or semi-shaded location.
Be careful in introducing the plant to sunlight gradually, or the leaves may get sunburned. Set it outside for an hour the first day, two hours the next, over the course of a week or ten days until it’s outside all day.
Bring the plant back when daytime temperatures begin to drop below 60°F.
If you don’t have at least eight hours of sun shining through your window in the wintertime, you might want to invest in a quality light like this one from Home Depot, and hang it over the foliage.
LED Indoor Grow Light
Turn it on in the morning three hours before the sun rises and three hours after it sets – or turn the window brightness off. Besides keeping the plant happy, it gives you a better chance of flowering.
You can replace the topsoil annually and repot into a slightly larger container if desired.
Keep in mind that mature bird of paradise plants bloom better if they are slightly root bound, so letting it live in the same container for a few years may help it thrive. To replace the topsoil, remove the top two inches gently with a hand trowel and add two inches of fresh potting mix.
And one final note – do not use the Leafshine product on these plants. This can damage the natural finish of the leaves. To keep the leaves tidy, wipe away any dust with a damp towel every week or two.
Keep an eye out for pests like spider mites or aphids. You can remove them by hand or use insecticidal soap or neem oil.
mimic a tropical climate
Bird of Paradise is a gift to the world from South Africa and grows happily in Florida, Jamaica, Southern California and Hawaii.
If you don’t live somewhere more tropical, you’ll need to mimic a warm, humid climate for your S. reginae.
The plants prefer nighttime temperatures of 50-55°F and 70-75°F during the day, so don’t set your thermostat too low during the colder months.
They also prefer a humidity of about 60 percent, so you should spray the plants daily — especially during the winter months.
an indoor paradise
If you’re struggling with a lack of greenery in your area during the winter, growing a bird of paradise (or two) indoors can remind you of warmer days and lift your spirits. Or maybe, like me, you love the idea of growing an attractive houseplant within a year.
Especially when it blooms with amazingly bird-like flowers. It will spice up your interiors like nothing else.
Have you ever grown one of these tropical beauties indoors? Leave any suggestions or questions in the comments below!
And if you want to learn more about birds of paradise plants, check out these guides ahead:
© Ask the Experts, LLC. All rights reserved. See our TOS for more details. Product photos via The Home Depot. Uncredited photos: Shutterstock. With additional writing and editing by Helga George and Allison Sidhu.