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Strelitzia Nicolai, also known as the White Bird of Paradise or Wild Banana, is one of the easiest large indoor plants to grow. Its big and shiny leaves can transform your home into an urban jungle, making it a desirable addition to any tall houseplant collection. Some people mistakenly identify it as a banana plant, and they indeed look alike. However, the key difference is in the leaf growth patterns.

Strelitzia Nicolai can flourish indoors, growing from 3 to 8 feet in height, while it can reach up to 20 feet as an outdoor plant.

If you’re interested in learning how to care for and grow this amazing indoor plant, keep reading.

How to Care for Strelitzia Nicolai ?

Strelitzia Nicolai is indeed a low-maintenance houseplant. However, IT comes from the rainforests of southern Africa, and replicating tropical conditions in your home is key to keeping this large house plant healthy and growing.

tropical conditions might seem like a LOT OF WORK, but the truth is quite the opposite. just provide warmth, humidity, and shaded sunlight.

other NamesWhite Bird of Paradise or Wild Banana, crane flower 
Botanical NameStrelitzia reginae, Strelitzia nicolai
Mature Size4-6 ft. tall, 4-4.5 ft. wide
Sun Exposurefull and shaded sunlight
Soil Typewell drainage soil
Soil pH5-6 ph soil
Bloom TimeFrom March to late April
Flower ColorSouthern Africa
Hardiness Zones10-12 (USDA)
Native AreaOrange, white, blue, yellow
ToxicityOrange, white, blue , yellow

How much light does a Strelitzia Nicolai need?

Find a warm spot in your home with a lot of indirect sunlight for your Strelitzia Nicolai. The best locations are rooms with windows facing the west or east sides. rooms with north-facing windows are not ideal for the Bird of Paradise.

Ideally, the plant should receive 4 to 6 hours of bright light each day for optimal growth. avoid direct sunlight as it can cause leaf burn. Additionally, keep the plant away from radiators for healthy leaves.

What is the best soil mix for Strelitzia Nicolai?

As Strelitzia Nicolai has large roots, it’s better to use a premium soil mix.

You may wonder what a premium soil mix is.

It is typically a soil mix containing ingredients such as coconut coir, vermiculite, pumice, perlite, and activated charcoal. These components promote proper drainage, which helps prevent many root issues.

Additionally, use a pot with drainage holes to allow excess water to flow out of the soil. This helps maintain the ideal moisture level for the plant’s roots.

How much water do you put in Strelitzia Nicolai?

Strelitzia Nicolai is a large indoor plant that prefers the soak-and-dry method of watering. In other words, it’s best to allow the soil to dry out completely before watering again. Then, you can water it until you see the water draining from its drainage holes.

During warm seasons, water the plant once a week. In winter, when the growth rate slows down, less frequent watering is needed.

so when to water Bird of Paradise?

test the soil moisture by pushing your thumb 2-3 inches into the soil. If it feels dry, you can water it.

Overwatering can result in crunchy brown leaves, while underwatering may cause yellowing leaves.

What temperature is good for Strelitzia Nicolai?

After researching Strelitzia Nicolai, we found that it is from southern Africa, which is known for its warm temperatures throughout the year. Therefore, the best temperature ranges for these plants are around 18-27°C or 60-80°F. When kept as a large indoor plant, it’s better to avoid placing your Bird of Paradise near heating sources such as radiators or air conditioners, as sudden temperature changes can harm this houseplant.

What is the best humidity level for Strelitzia Nicolai?

Strelitzia Nicolai, originating from South Africa, needs high humidity to grow. To provide the best humidity for this large houseplant, placing it near a humidifier can help maintain suitable moisture levels.

Does Strelitzia Nicolai need fertilizer?

Like most houseplants, fertilizer is needed only during the Strelitzia Nicolai growing season. plus, White Bird of Paradise is a heavy feeder during warm seasons, as fertilizers help growth during these months. feed it once every two to three weeks with slow-release pellets or liquid fertilizer mixed with water.

However, in winter and autumn, it does not fertilize at all, as it gets into a state of dormancy. Over-fertilizing can lead to health issues such as root burning.

premium soil mix

Habitat Complete Blends Multipack

Rainforest Blend, a more acidic complete blend for your rainforest floor plants.

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Similar in function to perlite, pumice is a naturally-occurring volcanic rock that works to aerate and allow for drainage.

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Coco Coir (Shredded)

A natural byproduct of the coconut industry, coco coir is an ideal growing medium for plants. The natural pH is between 6-6.8, great for most plants.

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FINE Horticultural Charcoal

Use 5-7% charcoal in your soil mix to improve drainage and decrease soil funkiness. 

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Bug Shit!

One of our favorite soil ingredients, this blend of premium insect frass can be used just like worm castings. Superior to worm castings, insect frass contains chitin and has no chance of carrying fungus gnats.

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For moisture Level And Temperature

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Best Fertilizer for your Strelitzia Nicolai

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Strelitzia nicolai large indoor plant 01

White Bird of Paradise as a tall houseplant

Strelitzia Nicolai Pruning guide

Pruning Strelitzia Nicolai is not typically necessary as it is a single-leaf stem plant. However, sometimes pruning can be beneficial, such as cutting off dead or damaged leaves to keep the plant healthy.

Pruning during the growing season allows the plant to recover quickly. Pruning in the dormant season may cause health problems.

When pruning White Bird of Paradise, follow these steps:

  1. look for dead or damaged leaves and flowers. not only do they ruin the appearance but they also attract pests and diseases.
  2. Using sterile shears, carefully cut the targeted leaves from the base of the plant. the shears should be cleaned to prevent the spread of any diseases.
  3. target overgrown leaves to prevent the plant from developing a leggy appearance.
  4. Then, shape the plant by cutting off any unsightly or unwanted leaves. Always aim to cut at the base of the leaf stalk, as there’s no need for a stem without a leaf.
Strelitzia nicolai trimming

trimming White Bird of Paradise for a better look

How you propagate a Strelitzia Nicolai?

When it comes to propagating Strelitzia Nicolai, there are two methods:

  • stem division
  • sowing seeds.

I prefer stem division each time as it’s easy and quick, and it allows you to gain a year or two of waiting time.

To propagate your large houseplant through stem division, follow these steps:

Prepare your tools for stem division. The tools you’ll need depend on the size of your houseplant. For larger, more mature plants that have been blooming for three to four years, you’ll require bigger tools such as a shovel and a saw.

However, for smaller plants, a sharp knife will be enough.

Make sure your tools are sharp and sterilized before starting with the propagation process. Start by carefully removing the plant from the pot. Be gentle during this process to avoid damaging the roots.

Identify mature, healthy stems on the plant. Carefully separate the desired stems from the main plant, ensuring clean cuts and avoiding damage to the plant tissue. This process should be relatively easy, even for beginners.

Now, all that’s left to do is to plant the divided stems in a well-draining soil mix.

bird of paradise plant care

Should You repot your Strelitzia Nicolai?

Every houseplant lover should know how to repot their plants, and Strelitzia Nicolai is no exception. Due to its fast growth, it’s recommended that it be repotted every couple of years.

The best time to repot the Bird of Paradise is in spring, typically from March to the beginning of May. Repotting is advised once you notice roots starting to show out of the top layer of soil. When selecting a new pot, opt for one that is slightly larger. Using a pot that is too large may result in excessive leaf growth and fewer flowers.

Carefully remove the plant from its container with the twist and squeeze method. Gently shake off as much old soil from the roots as possible. If necessary, you can use water to help loosen the soil from the roots. Be gentle to avoid damaging the roots during this process.

Place a drainage layer, such as small rocks or pebbles, at the bottom of the new pot. This layer will help ensure proper drainage for the plant. Then, add a layer of soil on top of the drainage layer.

Place the plant in the center of the new pot, positioning it vertically. Fill the gaps around the plant with soil, ensuring that the roots are completely covered. Press the soil down gently to fill any empty spots and secure the plant in place.

Choose a high-quality potting mix specifically designed for tropical plants or create a custom mix using ingredients such as perlite, coarse sand, and peat moss to promote excellent drainage.

propagating the houseplant

repoting White Bird of Paradise

best tools for successful pruning

FELCO Classic Manual Hand Pruner

  • Comfortable, lightweight, sturdy aluminium alloy handles
  • High quality hardened steel blades, forged aluminium alloy handles, wire cutting notch

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Hassle-free propagation tools 

AIRAJ 27-41'' Extendable Anvil

  • Strong and Labor-saving: Scientific and labor-saving design, handle opening and closing angle and head cutting angle are designed in strict accordance with scientific lever system design,long working hours without fatigue.

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Things you need to repot your Bird of Paradise

LE TAUCI 12 Inch Pot for Plants

  • Ideal Size: At 12 inches in diameter, this planter is the perfect size for your indoor plants. Its spacious size allows you to grow larger plants or multiple smaller plants, adding life and greenery to your space.

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Premium Potting Soil

  • READY TO USE MIXTURE – The same formulation as used by professional growers
  • PROMOTES ROOT GROWTH – Our special mix provides excellent rooting and growth of your plants, flowers, and garden
  • PROVIDES AERATION AND MOISTURE RETENTION – Contains peat moss, perlite and vermiculite for optimum control

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UPINS Repotting Mat

  • Keep Clean and Tidy: The plant repotting mat is specifically designed for garden enthusiasts, can effectively capture soil and humidity, keeping your indoor space clean and stain free, so you don’t have to worry about dirtying your home floor when changing soil

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wintering Strelitzia Nicolai

Strelitzia Nicolai is a tropical plant, so freezing winters can kill it. If your plant is outdoors and you can bring it inside, it’s better to do so to protect it from cold temperatures.

If you live in a zone like USDA 9 and the temperature dips for only a short time, your Bird of Paradise plant can survive outdoors. However, it’s crucial to protect your plant from these temperature drops to ensure the plant’s survival.

To protect your Bird of Paradise during winter, cut leaves and stems above 12 inches long.

Protect the remaining stem and rhizome by applying a layer of mulch, followed by leaf litter and straw. Cover the entire area with breathable row cover material and secure it with stakes. Remove the coverings as soon as spring arrives and the threat of the last frost has passed.

wintering Strelitzia nicolai

White Bird of Paradise blooming as an outside plant

how make your Strelitzia Nicolai Blooming

If you want to understand why the Bird of Paradise plant gets its name, you need to witness its stunning bloom. Unfortunately, this spectacle is rare unless the plant is around 5 to 6 years old. However, if your houseplant is mature enough, follow these steps to encourage blooming:

  1. Light: Ensure the plant receives adequate sunlight by placing it under direct sunlight for 6 hours a day.
  2. Nutrients: Establish a routine for feeding the plant with a balanced fertilizer to provide essential nutrients for blooming.
  3. Water: During the summer months, water the plant regularly to maintain consistently moist soil. However, allow the soil to dry out between watering sessions to prevent overwatering.
strelitzia nicolai flower

strelitzia nicolai flower | Image by Freepik

Pests and diseases

Strelitzia Nicolai can be targeted by various pests, including aphids, scales, and whiteflies. Therefore, it’s important to inspect the plant regularly for signs of infestation.

If you encounter pests, you can apply a simple treatment. Options include using alcohol or insecticidal soap applied to the undersides of the leaves.

Or you can use some gnat traps. I recommend the one that Oh Happy Plants offer, or to make pest control a hassle-free process, think of investing in a cleaning kit 

plant cleaning kit

Plant Bath Kit

Contains a 16oz Oh Happy Plant Bath sprayer, plus a bottle of concentrate that will refill your sprayer 16 or more times!

Also included:

Fungus gnat traps (you can never have too many)

Washable drop cloth to keep Plant Bath off furniture and floors (it shouldn’t damage home furnishings but it makes floors slippery; so we use a drop cloth every time)

Lambswool plant duster (to dust plants between baths)

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gnat traps

Fungus gnat traps

Are fungus gnats bothering you? Use these houseplant-sized traps to catch them so they stop flying in your face! Simply peel off the sticky backing on one side and place on the surface of the soil, sticky side up. Re-use the same trap when it’s full by peeling off other side and turning over.

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Additionally, Bird of Paradise plants can be susceptible to grey mold, which is dark spots on the flowers and leaves. To prevent its spread, start by cutting off affected parts of the plant. Afterward, expose the plant to sunlight for 6 hours a day for three days.

What is wrong with Strelitzia?

Overall, Strelitzia Nicolai is one of the easiest large indoor plants to care for and grow. If you stay consistent in providing optimal conditions, it will remain healthy and strong for many years. However, neglecting any of its required conditions can lead to problems.

Why are your Strelitzia Nicolai leaves browning?

Strelitzia’s worst enemy is root rot, which is often caused by overwatering. This leads to soggy soil conditions that promote fungal growth and damage to the roots. To prevent root rot, it’s crucial to allow the soil to dry out completely between waterings. If you notice wilting or browning leaves, root rot has likely developed. Another sign will be a bad rotting smell coming from the roots.

To treat root rot, follow these steps:

  1. Remove the plant from its container.
  2. Trim off any blackened or moldy parts from the roots and rhizome.
  3. Apply a fungicide to help combat any fungal infections.
  4. Clean and sterilize the pot thoroughly before repotting.
  5. Use fresh, well-draining soil mix when repotting the plant.

Why is your Bird of Paradise leaves curling?

If you notice that your plant’s leaves are curling, it means that you may be underwatering your plant. To fix this issue, you should maintain a proper watering routine. Ensure that water is freely passing throughout the soil to hydrate the plant adequately.

Strelitzia Nicolai curling and turning yellow?

There are two possible reasons for your plant’s leaves turning yellow. The first reason is the most logical: aging. As plants age, older leaves naturally turn yellow and eventually drop off.

The second reason could be due to a lack of proper care. This could include low humidity levels, insufficient nutrients, or underwatering. To identify the cause, you can systematically test each factor.

Start with humidity. Mist your leaves and observe the results over a week or two. If there’s no improvement, try increasing the amount of water you give the plant during watering sessions. After two watering sessions, if the yellowing persists, consider adding liquid fertilizer to boost the plant’s nutrient intake.

By testing each factor, you can find the cause of yellowing leaves and take the best action to treat it.

Why is your Bird of Paradise leaves curling and splitting?

If your plant’s leaves have some breaks and splits, it’s quite normal and not a cause for concern. These breaks and splits allow for air circulation around the leaves and roots, which is beneficial for the overall health of the plant. While you may perceive this as a problem, it helps prevent mold from developing and discourages pests from settling in the plant.

Can Strelitzia Nicolai be in direct sunlight?

Strelitzia Nicolai can handle some direct sunlight, but it’s best to avoid harsh, intense rays to prevent leaf damage.

Why are my Strelitzia leaves turning brown?

Brown leaves on your Strelitzia may indicate overwatering, lack of humidity, or too much direct sunlight. Adjusting watering and light levels can help.

What are the best conditions for Strelitzia nicolai?

Strelitzia Nicolai thrives in bright, indirect light, well-draining soil, and regular watering when the top inch of soil feels dry.

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