Can a Bird of Paradise Grow in Water? Or Only Propagate?

The Bird of paradise is a tropical, evergreen plant that originates from South Africa. It’s known for its large, dramatic leaves and unique flowers. They resemble tropical birds, which is where they get their name from.

Can a Bird of paradise grow in water?

With some plants, such as the ever popular Monstera and Peperomias, leaves and stems are capable of forming their own root systems, thus becoming their own plants.

This is a useful adaptation in the wild as it allows any broken part of the plant to save itself. This, however, does not apply to all plants, and sadly, the Bird of paradise isn’t one of them.

In order to propagate your Bird of Paradise, you need to include a section of rhizome.

Once settled, additional rhizomes and stems will begin to grow, creating a whole new plant.

Can a Bird of paradise be propagated in water?

The Bird of paradise is unable to grow any roots via its stem, flower, or leaf. If you put a cutting in water, it won’t be able to get the nutrients it needs to grow, and it will eventually die.

The Bird of paradise can not be propagated in water, but there are other successful methods to propagate your Bird of paradise.

How to successfully propagate your Bird of paradise?

The Bird of paradise has thicker and rounder roots than most common houseplants. These are called rhizomes. The rhizomes technically aren’t roots, but rather stems.

They function, however, like roots and allow the plant to absorb nutrients and water. During a drought, the plant is able to store water in the rhizomes, which is why it is able to tolerate drought.

In mature plants, the rhizomes somewhat resemble potatoes and are pale and fleshy. Smaller tube-like structures, which resemble more traditional roots, are attached.

Due to their sturdiness, the rhizomes are able to tolerate being split quite well. They also have the added benefit of being able to store extra nutrients in them, which reduces stress because the plant is still being fed.

This will enable you to split your plant multiple times throughout its life, creating multiple new plants.

In order to survive division and have a successful propagation, a piece of rhizome must be included when you select which part of the plant to slice off.

The age of the plant you have selected for division is important. The older the plant, the more time it has had to develop a strong root system. Immature plants may suffer shock when being divided and may need more time to recover.

What is the best propagation method?

The best propagation method is up to one’s own needs and personal opinion. The Strelitzia, or Bird of paradise as it’s more commonly known, can be propagated via division, or via being grown from a seed.


Division allows you to create a new plant almost instantaneously. You get the added benefit of already having a new plant of the same size as opposed to starting out small from seed.

There is the element of instant gratification that comes with division as well. For most people with a love of gardening, division is the fastest and thus most practical method.

Division is also a fantastic method if your plant has suffered damage or an infestation. By dividing your plant, you will potentially be able to cut off any damaged parts, saving the remainder of the plant.


While division is fast, there is no doubt that growing from seed is a labor of love. It will take 8 weeks for your seeds to sprout.

For the first year of their lives, any baby plants will be extremely fragile, and you will need to control their environment to ensure their best chance of survival.

While the process is very slow, and your growing seedling will require lots of attention and dedicated care, it goes without saying that one will almost certainly be rewarded with a beaming sense of pride if you take on the task of growing this beauty from scratch.

If you’re in it for the long haul, you can find my How-To guide on growing a Bird of paradise from seed here.

Steps for propagating your Bird of paradise

Propagation through division

  1. Observe your plants’ overall health. Pick a section that looks healthy. It should be firm to the touch, dark green and smooth.
  2. Avoid any part of the plant that is yellow, soft, or shows any signs of potential damage or pests.
  3. Remove your Bird of paradise from its container. Some of the plant’s rhizomes will be visible. If any parts appear to be naturally separating, you can try to gently pull apart the cluster.This will give you the best chance of not damaging your plant.
  4. If the plant is compacted tightly, you will need to cut a piece of the rhizome off using something sharp. New roots and stems will grow from the cut piece of rhizome.
  5. Your new Bird of paradise plant can be potted in well-draining soil. Your plant may experience a slight shock, but should recover and perk up within a few weeks.

How does the Bird of paradise multiply in nature?

While division is a very common and effective way to propagate your Bird of paradise, they also produce seeds. Pollination of the plant in South Africa is typically done by sunbirds.

Growing a bird of paradise from seed is a long process, and it can take your plant several years before flowering for the first time. 

Young plants are also much weaker, making them more susceptible to damage if given incorrect growing conditions.

In conclusion 

If you have the right climate and patience, then growing a Bird of paradise from seed can be a highly rewarding process.

For those who prefer instant results, you can easily create two or three new plants since propagation through division gives almost instant results.

With a bit of love, care, and lots of sunlight, your new Bird of paradise plants will be pushing out plenty of new growth and you’ll feel like you live in a tropical jungle!