Most commonly used varieties: Strelitzia reginea
These beautiful giant boat-leafed plants grow with elaborate striking flowers. The leaves are rolled in their bud stage and unfurl in a fascinatingly unique way. The species most common to interiorscapes is the White Bird of Paradise, eventually growing to 15–20 feet tall in well-lit interiors, producing white flowers with a pale blue throat. They have a large, thick root system that will fill the grow pot to its max over time. As they grow, healthy plants will send off new offspring from the base.
They need at least 200fc to remain good looking through the years. With less light they become weak and flopsy, drink little water, develop leaf spots and in general do poorly.
Because of their need for high light and their big root system, these plants need a good drink of water on a regular basis. In strong light, check the soil moisture to make sure the soil has dried to slightly moist, and then water all the way through to the saucer. This may take two or more gallons of water. They need a good drenching weekly. Well-established plants in good light will benefit from a shallow reserve of water to drink up.
Signs of overwatering are yellowish mottled foliage that turns a wet brown color especially at the edges of the leaves. On chronically overwatered birds, the soil will start to stink and smell like an outhouse. Underwatering symptoms include droopy fronds with crispy brown edges and tips. The oldest leaves will turn yellow.
All Strelitzia enjoy the warmth of the indoor environment and need good humidity to keep the leaves from splitting and browning at the edges. In low humidity the new foliage will also have trouble opening and may need a bit of help from you. Use your fingernail to slice along the emerging leaf edge.
Birds will benefit from regular feedings of a complete fertilizer three to four times per year. Over-fertilizing will cause the leaf edges to curl and brown. To keep them healthy and clean, wash or wipe the leaves using mild soap and water. Try using white gloves or tube socks for a quick wipe down.
Strelitzia are prone to mealybug and, to some degree, scale attacks. Be vigilant when overseeing this plant variety for insects. Once a Strelitzia has a full-blown mealybug attack with every crevasse of its make-up mealybug infested, it is very hard to treat. Spray/wipe the plant down with Brand X®. At the same time, put a systemic in the soil. Be persistent with spraying to eliminate the pest population. Pay attention to the changing water needs of your infested bird. It will drink less water when it is being overrun with insects.