Questions on Bird of Paradise

Norman123(6 NY)June 7, 2005

I have recently bought a BoP plant. It's rather big already (about 5') and I was told in the store that it would do very good by an eastern side window. Now I have it there. The problem is that it doesn't get direct sun rays for more than 2-3 hours top! Since we live at the third floor of an apartment building it is impossible to take full advantage of the eastern sunrise. I should also say that we live in Brooklyn, NY. It does get plenty of light thogh, but I have read that it needs DIRECT sunlight. Is this correct? I have no possibility to put a flourecent light by the plant, otherwise that would have been an option. I just talked to the florist and he said that it is OK to have 2-3 hors direct sunlight and the rest of the day simply light...

I also wonder how to keep the soil fluffy. It's not supposed to be compact, but after watering it for sometime it will become more compact. What can I do to avoid this?

And a last question. What kind of fertilizer should be used? I'd prefer organic, but I don't know if there is any good ones for this particular plant that has the long release effect.

Very thankful for any help.

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johnh_or(Portland OR Z8)

I really doubt it will do well in an Eastern exposure....probably it will just survive. Never flower. In Hawaii, they grow in full sun. Here is a link to an informative web-page. Hope this helps!

Here is a link that might be useful: BEE BOP A LOOLA

    Bookmark   June 7, 2005 at 7:17PM
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Well, I can't help you with all your questions, but I know the answer to the soil getting compacted! Water it from below. Top watering makes the soil compact and get saturated, it also washes excess plant food deeper in to the root ball. Watering from below keeps the soil evenly moist and light, which is ideal as plants like both air *and* water around the roots.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2005 at 7:32PM
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Norman, if you keep your BOP right up against the east window this will help..also, any artifial lighting works, too..Do you have an outdoor porch to set plant in summer?
I do bottom-water some plants, but only those in small pots. What size container is the bird in? If you decide to repot, use a mix of all purpose, sand, and peat..Birds prefer being a bit potbound, especially when it's ready to bloom.
The only organic fertilizer I know that works is Fish Emulsion, but I wouldn't use this for birds. I alternate plant foods monthly..One month all purpose (for leaf growth) and flowering (to promote flowers.)
I'm sure someone out here strickly uses organics and may have a better suggestion...Toni

    Bookmark   June 7, 2005 at 11:55PM
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Norman123(6 NY)

Thank you all.

Apparently there are very different information about this plant. Some websites claim that they need sun/shadow others very much sun (such as the one provided JohnH) others that it needs bright light (doesn't say anything about direct sun) etc. I wonder which is the correct one... I have now checked the placement of mine and it seems it has direct sun rays about 3 hours in the morning (7-10am) and after that it has a lot of light, but not direct sun.
I really hope that JohnH is wrong when he says that he doubt it will bloom... I also hope it is correct what they say that patience is a virtue. However I appreciate all the answers and if somebody find more information about it, please feel free to provide me with that!

Thanks a bunch!

Here is a link that might be useful: This link says sun to semi shade which is what I have...

    Bookmark   June 8, 2005 at 9:45AM
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I have a white bird of paradise nearly as tall as I am, and I've found that it likes bright light. Full sun does not seem necessary for foliage development, as its leaves are 2-ft long. As of yet it has not bloomed for me indoors, but I'm betting that it will within a couple of years. Patience is key with this one. Also it's important not to overwater, or to over-fertilize. I only water when the soil is mostly dry, and I fertilize once a year with half-strength time-released fertilizer.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2005 at 12:04AM
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Norman, a person can read 20 websites, and 30 books and come up with different
I've quite a few books and found common and botanical names differ w/the same plant.
I've 2 birds and in winter they're kept in gh w/direct sun, and summer they're set outdoors.
I think about moview made in Fl and Ca and birds are sitting out in full sun..
I'm sure a bird will survive in lower light, but will take longer to grow, and less chance to bloom. Even with all the light mine get, (for IL) I consider birds slow growers. Pehraps in Fl with proper light and humidity, they grow faster, especially those planted in the ground. Good luck, Toni

    Bookmark   June 11, 2005 at 12:22AM
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paul_(z5 MI)

I used to live in Hawaii --- don't ever recall seeing a BoP blooming , or growing for that matter, in any location that did not get at least 6-8 hours direct sun.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2005 at 11:18AM
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fluffygrue(z8 UK)

I've read just the same - lots of different places saying different things. In the end I decided on putting mine in bright light - but no direct sun. I water it a fair bit, though it's not very humid as it's currently in the kitchen. Seems to be doing okay, it's grown quite a lot since I bought it.

I wouldn't have thought it needed full sun, as it has dark green leaves which are fairly big/flat, which usually means the plant will do okay in shadier spots..


    Bookmark   February 16, 2006 at 8:05AM
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You probably don't want to hear my sorry BOP story. Hopefully my bad news will help you somehow.

I brought some mature BOP back from FL the day of hurricane Charley to my home in zone 5. (they were potted in full sun in FL) It did poorly as a houseplant over the winter and died by spring. I also received a giant bird of paradise (GBOP) pup about that time.

It has done well and still growing. It's in The South window (same is the ill fated BOP) It is happily growing thru it's second winter here and goes outside in the pot in full sun for the summer.

When it was in the ground in the pot for the summer the GBOP grew an enormous root out the drain hole which extended a couple feet into the soil. I had to lop that off to winter it inside. It didn't mind a bit.

Perhaps the GBOP is easier to keep as a houseplant than BOP or perhaps it's easier for them to survive if they are pups instead of mature. Not sure why one died (BOP) and one is happy( GBOP).

    Bookmark   February 17, 2006 at 10:50PM
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IMO, both BOP's should grow similar especially if placed in the same window.
I sometimes thing a plant will be defective and die despite what is done.
I agree, BOP's should be grown in full sun/direct sun and if possible summered outdoors.

As for the fertilizer, I guess you can try Fish Emulsion, (organic) but the best foods are all purpose one month, blooming the next. (Alternate) As a baby, all purpose is sufficient, but when it grows 7 leaves or more than it's time to alternate. Feed during growing seasons in spring and summer. BTW, keep plant away from squirrels..My bird was doing great until those darn furry rodents got to it..this was the larger of the two. They somehow knocked it down, then nibbled on leaves. They will eat any plant..they even got my Avacado, grown from the pit..even ate the pit which is toxic. Toni

    Bookmark   February 19, 2006 at 7:49PM
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watergal(z6/7 Westminster, MD)

Large plants often have a harder time acclimating than young ones. A large plant definitely would have trouble adjusting from full Florida sun to an indoor houseplant.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2006 at 10:25AM
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Watergal, I agree with you about buying a smaller plant so it acclimates to lower light..the problem is, stores like HD sell taller Birds. Perhaps it's best buying one in spring when daylight hours are longer. Summering outdoors will help too..then once fall comes, gradually bringing a plant to a shadier spot will help the plant overwinter.
It's common knowlege, a shady spot outside is brighter than the brightest window in most homes. Toni

    Bookmark   February 20, 2006 at 5:47PM
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vilcat(z4b NH)

I got a baby white BOP several years ago that was knee high to a grasshopper or about 2' (says something about our grasshoppers huh?). I put it outside in bright shade, which is under my south facing, second-story greenhouse during the summer and put it in the greenhouse in full sun for the winter (which up here is quite long with really short days). I water often in the summer, and sparingly in the winter. It has grown to be about 8' and has formed offshoots but no flowers yet. I love it for what it is...a huge tropical green leafy thing that brings me joy, and even if it never gives me a flower, it is one stunning plant! And the looks it gets from my fellow New Hampshirites?, New Hampshirians?, well, whatever we're called, are worth a million bucks!


    Bookmark   February 22, 2006 at 1:34PM
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I recently bought a white bird of paradise. It has been doing well so far--until today. I set it out on my back deck to get some direct sunlight. It was not a hot day either. Two hours later, I found the plant with the most ofleaves rolled up. I know that I had just watered the plant hours before setting it out and it looked fine. What do I need to do? Was it damaged or harmed? Will the leaves return to normal? I thought it could take direct sunlight, no?

    Bookmark   April 10, 2006 at 7:11PM
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Any help would be appreciated. I recently moved into a home (South FL) that has a large BOP outside. It apparently was the center attraction until Hurricane Wilma whipped it up pretty badly last year. There is a lot of new growth now but overall the plant looks very wild and unruly. There are the remains of 2 blooms (that never opened) as well. Does anyone know how to safely cut this plant back? Many thanks!

    Bookmark   June 1, 2006 at 9:36PM
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I have a similar problem as "terrannavigator". I bought a Bird of Paradise in Florida three years ago and brought it back to Syracuse, New York. In the winter I keep it indoors with grow lights on it and in the summer I bring it outdoors. All the leaves are rolling up on it and I don't know if it's too much sun (Which I doubt because I see them thriving outdoors in Florida all the time) or maybe it's getting too much rain. Any suggestions?

    Bookmark   July 2, 2006 at 4:41PM
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hi norman and everybody,
wish i could give you tips for indoor growing but since i only have experience with growing them in the garden, here is what i CAN tell you:

re fertilizing-i fertilize 2-3 times tops all sp. - fall.
at the beg of spring i feed each one 1 heaping tsp of 20-20-20 diluted in a big 20 litre bucket, dump all around base, refill with just water, dump again.
once or twice i give them liquid bio-fertilizer with seaweed extract N-P-k: 4:6:8 diluted at a bit less than half strength in a 10 litre watering can, pour that all around the plant then fill it up again- only water. imp to shritz the lower part with water after words as well.

they get drip irrigation twice a week and occasional 'showers' to cool them off (and so they can remember the jungle!)but truthfully, not a lot of water all in all and the temp here is 100 +/- 10 give or take all summer/part of fall and they are in fullll sun.
during the winter i never water - only rainfall.
so, my conclusion is: try and take them outside and if you get rain, go very easy on the watering.
hose down occasionally- they enjoy it!
not too much fert.sometimes leaves just get brown, crack, die but there are always more! I think they like it best when i just let them do their own thing.

here r 2 these BoP as a housewarming gift nearly 20 yrs ago....every few years i prune back (dig up parts) and give away plants... there are always leaves to be cut down to the ground as well as cutting off dead flowers- also to the ground and when the leftover stem dries out i just pull it out!
good luck:)

    Bookmark   July 3, 2006 at 11:38AM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

That plant is stunning!

I've only grown them outdoors in Phoenix AZ where they want morning sun but if I were asked about indoor growing I'd say as much sun as possible, including direct sun and don't keep the soil moist and don't fertilize much or repot often. If possible I'd put outdoors in summer.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2006 at 1:21PM
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I realize this is an old thread but was wondering about my Bird of Paradise. I live in Houston, Tx and when building a new fence, was forced to cut a huge trunk off the BoP. This one piece of the plant is approx 12 feet tall and looking at the base (like tree rings) which I had to cut off in 3 sections, I found numerous little pups or nodules around the last 2 feet of the base section. I've stuck these large cross sections of the trunk in the ground with the pups exposed. Will they grow or am I wasting my time? We've been real sucessful in transplanting by cutting off or seperating a small clump of base leaves but not anything from a pup like this. Am I planting them correct, is there a secret to planting the small pups or should I dig up my mess and toss?

    Bookmark   April 4, 2007 at 9:06AM
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I planted a couple of very small BoP plants in a bed in my back yard about 3 years ago. The bed is on the south side of the house and gets a lot of sun. So, the plants have done very well. In fact, that's the problem! They have done sooo well that they have overtaken the bed, which happens to be just outside my screened in back porch. As beautiful as they are, I'm about ready to dig them all up and start over with something else in this bed. Can BoP plants be cut down and then the plant still survive? If so, what is the proper way to do this and should I thin out the "herd" if you will. They literally have taken over this bed that is about 4' wide by about 10' long. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2007 at 10:00PM
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I have some BOP pups and the leaves are kind of yellow. Can anyone help me I am new to these plants. East West South nobody seams to grow them the same. Seems full sun is the best. I had them in the East window out of direct sumlight. I will move them to the south then outside. Can someone help me with my yellow leaves. I put epsom salt on plumies to green them up will that help?

    Bookmark   April 16, 2007 at 6:26PM
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I have some BOP pups and the leaves are kind of yellow. Can anyone help me I am new to these plants.

East West South nobody seams to grow them the same. Seems full sun is the best. I had them in the East window out of direct sumlight. I will move them to the south then outside. Can someone help me with my yellow leaves. I put epsom salt on plumies to green them up will that help?

    Bookmark   April 16, 2007 at 8:26PM
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I have my white BOP in a south window (back about 5ft where it gets some hrs of direct sun, the rest of the day very bright light. It gets watered only when dry and feed a diluted amount of fertilizer in the spring and summer months. The leaves are big and gorgeous, but I doubt it will ever flower indoors (not enough light) but I don't mind, I bought the plant for it's leaves anyway.

If your going to put your BOP outdoors this summer, DON'T put it FULL SUN right away, or the leaves will roll up and burn like I am reading has happened to a few of you already. Any plant going outside in the sun needs to get used to the heat and suns rays gradually, moving it to brighter and longer intervals of direct light over time.
You know what happens when you stay in the sun too long trying to get your very first tan of the season right?

Billy Rae

    Bookmark   April 16, 2007 at 11:10PM
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Thanks Billy Rae,
I will do that and see if it helps. The seedlings did not come in the best looking shape either. The new growth looks to be alot better.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2007 at 10:40AM
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Valeri, thts just what my bop plant looked like when i ordered from Gurneys. Yellow, spotty, and smaller than i expected. new growth shows promise, but i let them know the condition of the plant on arrival....

    Bookmark   April 23, 2007 at 7:56AM
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Spiritual, did you leave feedback on gardenwatchdog? Gurneys is a great place to buy perrenial/annual/seeds, and even some outdoor trees/bushes, but I don't think they're the best place to purchase houseplants including citrus. Toni

    Bookmark   April 23, 2007 at 2:57PM
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Hi Hopeful,

I left a grade of Neutral cause they offered to replace the plants (4 BOP)and Im waiting to recieve the replacement plants.

The ones i ordered were really moldy on arrival. The company gets poor reports but I couldnt resist buying them though as BOP are really hard to find in my area and ive been wanting this plant for a really long time. Im trying for a Giant Bird of Paradise.

I havent done well with seed germination on this one type of plant.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2007 at 5:45PM
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Hi Spiritual,
Do you have a nearby Home Depot? My HD sells tons of Giant Birds..They range from 9.99-16.99..Depending on the nursery they deal with..
Hopefully the replacements will arrive in better health. Did they ask you to send back the orignal Birds? If not, and you kept them, remove mold and allow soil to dry out between waterings..You never know..Since you're in z7 it might be warm enough to set the first batch outside starting out in a shady/safe location..Birds and strong winds do NOT go togehter..all you'll get are torn leaves..Anyway, I hope the newer plants are to your liking..Toni

    Bookmark   April 25, 2007 at 4:14PM
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i have a gbop which i mistakenly repotted and almost killed a few years ago. it is finally coming back with some strong tall leaves. can i cut back the small old leaves? they are pointing down and some have brown edges. i don't want to hurt it again! thanks in advance and happy friday!

    Bookmark   April 27, 2007 at 12:00PM
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watergal(z6/7 Westminster, MD)

Sure you can cut off the old leaves.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2007 at 1:46PM
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I just got two BOP plants and live in an apartment. I get sun on my side of the building pretty much all day. I have the plants on the other side of the room but they get plenty of indirect bright sunlight. Of course since I was told here they like direct sunlight I move them from time to time infront of the window so they get their direct sun fix. So far so good. One even has two new leaves coming in. The second one hasn't sprouted anything new yet but I am hoping it will too. Good luck to everyone with their BOP I really like mine!

    Bookmark   May 5, 2007 at 12:30PM
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BT, did you buy the same types of Birds? You mentioned living in an you have a balcony you can set plants out in summer? Toni

    Bookmark   May 6, 2007 at 4:09PM
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Hi Toni

Sorry I have no idea what kind they are. The sticker on the pot just says Asst. Fancy and I doubt thats the type. LOL I don't have a balcony for them. I just play musical spots. I move them from their corner over to the window. Luckily the sun rises and sets on my side so they can get sun all day. After two or three days of that its back to the corner for indirect light and an organized livingroom. So far so good. In the winter the sun will be lower so I won't have to move them so far the sun usually comes all they way across teh room. I've one sprout that was coming out when I brought it that is fully out and ready to start uncurling and another small new one from another one. They do grow fast!

    Bookmark   May 7, 2007 at 12:44PM
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My bird of paradise for some reason keeps developing leaves that split on the tips, and sometimes a couple of inches down the leaf... How can I prevent this... Is it because the air is too dry?

    Bookmark   November 1, 2007 at 10:48PM
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It's January 19th and the snow against the hayfield fence is waist high. It's minus 22 Celsius. A woman I drove gave me her B.O.P. She says a friend gave her a seed brought from Spain which she planted. The Bird too a bit of a frost licking this fall after a summer outside facing due west. I now have it inside in a small entrance way facing north. Three new shoots have started and I apparently need one more before it flowers( apparently needs 10 to flower). This summer I shall place it outside facing west which means a lot of late noon and afternoon sun. I have not fertilized since I brought it home in October. Ron0

    Bookmark   January 20, 2009 at 10:53PM
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Oh it's a heliconia?

    Bookmark   January 21, 2009 at 1:58AM
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Hi there,

I bought BoP last Nov. I kept it as a house plant all winter long and this June I set it out on my patio. The plant has loved it so far. Except this week I have noticed the my normally flat leaves are starting to roll up (all of them old and new alike). I mean it has been in the same spot since Jne so its not sun. The leaves are still dark green and get watered reg and Fertilized about 1 month. Any ideas on what might be the cause?


    Bookmark   August 12, 2009 at 10:36AM
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WOW! This is an old post! Anyway it's normal for the leaves to split on the ends, mine also has the splits. It helps the leaves from shredding to bits (like palm trees) in high winds where BOPS naturally grow.

Leaves that roll up can either mean the soil is too dry, too much sun, severe cold, or pest.

Billy Rae

    Bookmark   August 12, 2009 at 10:06PM
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    Bookmark   August 24, 2009 at 6:21PM
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Alright I bought a BOP from lowes for 6.99. I planted it next to two palm trees (Is that ok?) Also it's within 1-2 ft. by my pool. I planted it facing sideways, so it grows sideways and not into the pool.( If that makes sense lol)also on the bucket it shows just a label of BOP and not a white,giant and or Orange. So my question was from reading other forums will the roots over take my palm trees? Will it possibly crack the concrete? Can it handle Zone 7-9. Thank you very much :)

    Bookmark   April 8, 2010 at 10:13PM
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5-7 weeks ago i planted two Bird of Paradises about 2meters apart. One has new growth on it (Its currently Spring in Australia) and the others leaves are curling up.
Is this too much water or not enough water?
See photo below:

When i first planted them i watered it each day with about 2ltrs (0.5gal) of water, then i only watered it every second day for the second and third week.
For the previous two weeks i have not watered it. and it really hasn't changed.
when i put my finger in the soil its damp, but i wouldn't say moist.

Any ideas on what i am doing wrong?

Here is a link that might be useful: Curled up bird of paradise

    Bookmark   October 10, 2011 at 4:04AM
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