California Gardens - The Year Round Gardening Site

Strelitzia nicolai - Giant Bird of Paradise

Strelitzia nicolai can make a spectacular statement in the garden. The striking white and blue flowers are usually about a foot but can be as much as 18" wide, but they are not around for long. The main reason to plant the Giant Bird of Paradise is for the large tropical leaves, Strelitzia nicolai will survive a Summer in most coastal gardens without extra water. The large succulent roots will keep this small tree going for months without rain once the Giant Bird of Paradise plants have been established. Each year a few shoots start up from the base. At first this is nice, but in all but the largest gardens eventually some have to be cut back. Strelitzia nicolai will grow to 20 feet or more in full sun or light shade. The older trunks will eventually break off. I try to keep clumps of the Giant Bird of Paradise limited to 5 or fewer trunks. I allow one of the young shoots to grow expecting a trunk will come down before long. They usually just bend over and don't cause catastrophic damage to the garden and it is nice to have a ready replacement already started. I thin out the older banana-like leaves every month or two to keep the Giant Bird of Paradise looking fresh. Strelitzia nicolai is frost tender and will be severely damaged if temperatures dip into the mid-20°'s F

High resolution photos of Strelitzia nicolai are part of our garden image collection.

Strelitzia nicolai, Giant Bird of Paradise