How to Care for Strelitzia Nicolai

Written by diane dilov-schultheis
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How to Care for Strelitzia Nicolai
Strelitzia nicolai is related to the bird-of-paradise flower. (Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images)

Strelitzia nicolai is commonly referred to as white bird-of-paradise, bird-of-paradise tree or giant bird-of-paradise. This plant belongs to the same family as bird-of-paradise flower but reaches far above the 3- to 4-foot height of the flower. Strelitzia nicolai produces large 6 to 8 foot leaves on a banana-like trunk and can reach 20 to 30 feet tall with spreads up to 10 feet wide. This evergreen, native to South America, grows best in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9B through 11 and lives for years with proper care.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Shovel
  • Mulch
  • Fertiliser
  • Shears or loppers

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  1. 1

    Plant Strelitzia nicolai in a location with full sun and rich, well-draining soil. Select a planting site with afternoon shade and wind protection, if possible.

  2. 2

    Dig the hole the same depth and at least twice the width of the tree's root ball. Water the Strelitzia nicolai in the container before planting.

  3. 3

    Remove the white bird-of-paradise tree, and place it in the centre of the hole. Add soil a little at a time, and firm it around the root system until the hole is completely filled.

  4. 4

    Water the tree well to settle the soil and to remove any air pockets. Create a wall a few inches high surrounding the planting hole using the remaining backfill. The watering basin will hold water until it drains into the tree's root system.

  5. 5

    Fill the basin twice a week for a month and then weekly after that. Water more often during dry periods and less if it rains or after fall. Adequate water for the first six to 12 months is important to the successful establishment of the tree, but the bird-of-paradise does not do well in damp soil.

  6. 6

    Cover the area beneath the bird-of-paradise tree with a 3-inch layer of mulch. Keep the mulch at least 2 to 3 inches away from the trunk. Replace the mulch yearly as needed to maintain the same depth.

  7. 7

    Apply a balanced fertiliser as directed monthly during the growing period of the bird-of-paradise. Do not fertilise after fall, and discontinue fertilising once the bird-of-paradise tree reaches the desired height.

  8. 8

    Use hand shears or loppers to remove any dead leaves or spent flowers on the tree.

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