How to grow Bird of Paradise plants from seed

Written by jarrett melendez | 13/05/2017
How to grow Bird of Paradise plants from seed
The Bird of Paradise plant is native to South Africa. (Wikimedia Commons)

Unlike many flower and vegetable seeds, which you can simply plant and grow, Bird of Paradise seeds must undergo both stratification and scarification. Stratification involves keeping the seeds in cold storage to bring them out of dormancy, and scarification refers to breaking the outer husk of the seed to help the sprouts break through and grow. Bird of Paradise plants thrive in Ireland and the west coast of Great Britain, but you can also grow them indoors if you live in cooler climates.

Soak the Bird of Paradise seeds in a bowl of lukewarm water for 24 to 48 hours. Drain the water and wrap the seeds in a damp paper towel. Place the seeds in a resealable plastic bag and store them in your fridge for two weeks.

Remove the seeds from the fridge and remove them from the paper towel. Sterilise a sharp knife or razor blade with rubbing alcohol. Use the blade to nick each seed. This process, called scarification, allows them to germinate.

Fill small planting pots or a planting tray with a mixture of equal parts peat moss and perlite. Press one seed into each pot or tray section to a depth of 1.2 cm (1/2 inch). Cover the seeds with soil and water until the soil is moist.

Place clear plastic planting tray covers on the trays. If you used pots, wrap each one with a clear plastic bag or cover the tops with cling film. This helps retain moisture and heat, both of which are needed to get Bird of Paradise seeds to germinate. Place the trays or pots in a warm room with indirect sunlight.

Water the soil regularly to keep it moist while the plants are germinating. Transplant the seedlings to larger pots or to a permanent location outdoors after two to three months. If you transplant them outdoors, dig holes as large as the containers and space them about 60 to 90 cm (2 to 3 feet) apart. Fertilise the area with a slow-release, 10-10-10 fertiliser according to the instructions on the packaging.

Things you need

  • Bowl
  • Paper towel
  • Plastic resealable bag
  • Razor blade
  • Sharp knife
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Planting pots
  • Planting trays
  • Planting tray covers
  • Clear plastic bags
  • Cling film
  • 10-10-10 fertiliser

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