Can a Bird of Paradise Live Outside? [Outdoor Care Guide]
Allowing your plant to spend some time outdoors can help it achieve its full potential.
The best growing conditions for any plant will mimic its native habitat. The Bird of paradise is considered a tropical plant and is native to South Africa. For your plant to grow well, you will need to give it bright, indirect light and a climate that is always warm and moist.
Can I grow my Bird of paradise outside during the summer?
If you live somewhere where these conditions are warm year round, then it may be possible to grow your Bird of paradise outside permanently. Your plant will get more nutrients from the soil outside, and it will also get water from the rain.
Outside of semi-tropical climates, it is rare to see a Bird of paradise thriving outdoors since the overall health of the plant requires certain conditions such as continuous warmth and the correct moisture amount.
In locations that experience colder winters, it is advised that you grow your Bird of paradise indoors during the cold months, and move it outside for the hot and humid months.
This gives you more control over your plant’s environment and makes it less likely that the cold or lack of humidity will hurt your plant.
Benefits of growing your indoor Bird of paradise outside during the summer
While some plants may be too fragile to do this, the Bird of paradise is considered a hardy plant. Allowing your plant to grow outside can also add organic matter to your soil, improving its nutrients.
Additionally, your plant will benefit from receiving rainwater as it lacks the chemicals that often come from tap water.The natural introduction of these additional minerals is generally seen as safer than adding fertilizers.
Keep an eye on your plant, especially on cooler nights. Any extreme weather, such as excessive rain or drought, will negatively affect your plant.
How to transition your Bird of paradise outside
Sudden changes to your Strelitzia’s environment can cause your plant to suffer from shock. When your plant is suffering from shock, it will appear limp, with slow growth. Your plant may also lose some leaves until your plant has adjusted.
To prevent this, introducing your plant slowly to its new conditions slowly is recommended.
Consider moving your plant to a bright window, or sunnier spot than where it currently stands.
After several days in this position, move your Bird of paradise outdoors. Place it in a position that is shady. After several days outdoors in the shade, you can move your plant into the sun.
Sun, however, is not the only thing to bear in mind. Once your Bird of paradise is outdoors, you will need to adjust your plant’s watering schedule.
The increase in the amount of light, faster evaporation through wind, and change in humidity are some factors that will influence your plant’s new watering needs.
While the Bird of paradise is not prone to many pests, being left outside can introduce insect issues to your plant.Not only are these harmful to your plant, but they can also damage it, leaving holes in the leaves and discoloring them.
Should you find yourself with a pest problem, I’ve written a guide on how to get rid of them and nurse your plant back to health. You can read about it here.
Can I grow my Bird of paradise outside during winter?
Strelitzias can withstand temperatures as low as -4 °C (24 °F) for a short period of time. However, anytime the plant is exposed to temperatures below 32°F, it can result in damage to the flowers and developing buds.
Your plant will die if exposed to such low temperatures for an extended period of time.
Being a tropical plant, the Bird of paradise enjoys temperatures ranging from 15–30 °C (59–86 °F). If your winters are very cold and wet, it is recommended you bring your Bird of paradise inside for the duration of the cold months.
Indoors, always try to keep the temperature above 10 degrees where possible.
Remember when it is time to move your plant back outdoors, you will need to slowly reintroduce it to the new light intensity, or it may suffer from scorch marks.
What happens if it gets too cold?
The most obvious sign your plant is getting too cold is the leaves turning yellow and becoming torn. The plant will begin to look ragged from this and will require pruning to tidy it up. Damage may appear on your plant’s stem in the form of brown or black spots. Your Bird of paradise will also begin to droop.
Will they come back after a freeze?
This is dependent on the conditions your plant was exposed to and for how long. The Bird of paradise is not cold hardy and just a few hours in freezing temperatures will cause damage.
Drooping stems, wilting leaves, and soft spots on your plant’s stalks are signs to act fast.
Leaving your plant in such conditions may cause it to die completely. It is recommended that preparation be done during the fall, to avoid running into this risk.
Preparing your Bird of paradise for winter
If you live in a colder climate, the good news is that if you can keep your plant above 1 °C in winter, then it should be just fine.
Be sure to watch for extra cold nights; it only takes a short amount of time for your plant to become damaged when temperatures drop below freezing. Luckily, there are a few things to do that can help the plant get through winter.
As the temperatures begin to drop, reduce the amount of water you give your plant. Giving your plant excess water could possibly lead to root rot. During winter, you can water your plant roughly once a week. Allow the top few layers to dry out between waterings.
Stop fertilizing your Bird of paradise during the fall
During the winter, we want our plants to conserve energy and go into a dormant state. One should stop fertilizing in the fall; the earlier the better.
This is because adding fertilizer fuels the plant. Instead of wasting energy on blooms—which are likely to fail—we want the plant to conserve as much of its energy as possible.
Cut it back
Cutting back your plant can be a way to help protect them. Using a pair of sharp shears, cut the entire plant back to just under 30 cm (12 in.) above the soil level.
This includes your plant’s stems, leaves, and flowers.
Cutting back your plant helps it to conserve energy that would have otherwise been wasted.
While this may be a very laborious process, especially if this is your first time pruning the plant, you will be rewarded the following growing season when your plant springs back to life with new foliage and blooms.
Mulch the plant
Adding mulch will serve as an insulator for the exposed part of your plant’s stem.
After being cut, your plant’s stem will still be vulnerable to cold weather.
Bark mulch or straw can be sprinkled around the perimeter of the plant to provide insulation and stabilize the temperature at your plant’s soil level.
Mulch should be evenly spread around the entire plant. Cover the plant’s rhizome, stem, and root system. Use a 3 inch layer of organic mulch around your plant’s stem and root system.
Mulch does not make it immune to the cold, but rather helps trap heat.
During the day, when temperatures are higher, the soil heats up. At night, the heat dissipates. The mulch traps the heat, allowing it to dissipate at a slower rate, keeping your plant warmer for longer.
Be sure to not add mulch around the trunk of the plant, as this may make conditions for root rot more likely.
Only mulch during the winter. Remove the mulch in the spring and summer to allow your plant to grow.
Compost not only adds nutrients to the soil, but it also provides another layer of heat for your plant.When adding compost, add at least 15 cm ( 6 in.) of compost. This will help your plant regulate nighttime temperatures.
This trick comes in handy if you have trees in your yard that lose their leaves during the winter. Any leaves will suffice, as long as they have no infestation and aren’t rotting or wet. Add a thick layer of leaves over your layer of mulch. Replace as necessary.
Pick the right spot to grow your plant
Choosing the correct position is very important and can save you extra hassles in the future. Pick a location that is sheltered or protected from cold winds.
Exposed, open areas offer no protection for your plant and are not ideal. Sunny areas with some protection from cold winds will be ideal for your Bird of paradise.
A strong wind can harm your plant if it is not tended to.
During the summer months, most locations will receive at least 6 hours of sun per day, meeting your plant’s needs. Also, putting your plant outside on a hot day may give it access to higher levels of humidity.
If you live somewhere with very dry air, you may want to mist your plant to protect it from suffering from dehydration.
How to transition your Bird of Paradise outdoors
Sudden changes to your Strelitzias environment can cause your plant to suffer from shock. When your plant is suffering from shock, it will appear limp, with slow growth.
Your plant may also lose some leaves until it has adjusted. To prevent this, introducing your plant slowly to its new conditions is recommended.
Consider moving your plant to a bright window or a sunnier spot than where it currently stands. Move your Bird of Paradise outside after a few days in this position.
Place it in a position that is shady. After several days outdoors in the shade, you can move your plant into the sun.
The Sun, however, is not the only thing to keep in mind. Once your plant is outdoors, you will need to adjust your plant’s watering schedule.
The increase in the amount of light, faster evaporation through wind, and change in humidity are some of the factors that will influence your plant’s new watering needs.