How to Propagate a Bird of Paradise? From Leaf? In Water?

The Bird of paradise can be propagated through division or by being grown from seed.

Their leaves and stems do not form roots when cut. It is important to include a piece of the rhizome when cutting your plant.

Reasons to propagate your plant

There are many reasons you may be thinking of propagating your Bird of paradise. Perhaps it is because of your love for its tropical beauty, or maybe it’s gotten too big for its container and the roots are spilling out.

Here are some of the most common ways to go about propagating your Bird of paradise:

Types of propagation

Propagation through division

When cutting a Bird of paradise, you’ll want to include a section of the rhizome along with it. This is because spreading the plant by cutting off a leaf or a piece of stem won’t work because your plant won’t be able to grow roots.

Rhizomes resemble fleshy, pale tubers with roots.

A 10-step guide

  1. Water your Bird of paradise before you plan to propagate it. This will help loosen the soil so that it can be split, and it will also give you a better view of the whole root system.
  2. Prepare the container or hole in your garden where you plan to plant your new division from the mother plant. This will help your plant’s roots by minimizing the damage caused by high oxygen exposure. Make sure the hole is deep enough to cover the plant’s entire bulb.
  3. Prepare your potting mix. You’ll want to pay attention to the components you use to ensure your plant’s best chance of survival. A mixture of 70% soil, mixed with 30% peat, will provide good drainage, but hold enough moisture to keep your plant happy.
  4. Mix your various substrates well. Avoid adding homemade compost into the mixture at this stage, as this can introduce disease to the newly formed root system. While the soil doesn’t need to be sterile, it should be of good quality. Compost can be added at a later stage, once the plant has settled.
  5. Dig your plant up. Where possible, it is recommended that you remove the entire plant from its container. This allows you to have a good look at your Strelitzia’s entire root system and aids you in picking a healthy section of the plant to propagate.
  6. Place your new plant in the hole you have made, either in a container or on the ground. You’ll want to plant it deep enough that the entire root system will be covered with soil.
  7.  Clean any tools you’ll be using to separate the roots of your Strelitzia. You can use ethanol or isopropyl alcohol to disinfect your tools by wiping them down with it. You are now ready to cut and separate your Bird of paradise into one or more plants.
  8. Slice the plant, and swiftly move it to the hole you prepared for planting. You’ll want to cover your roots as soon as possible with soil to minimize the total time they are exposed to air.
  9. Gently compact the soil around your plant. Make sure to position your plant straight, as this is ultimately the direction your plant will grow in once it’s settled.
  10. Finally, give your newly propagated Bird of paradise a drink of water. Do this slowly so the water soaks the ball root, helping your plant overcome the shock of being transplanted.

If you have potted your Bird of paradise, the final step is to move it to a spot where it will receive plenty of bright light.

After roughly 6 weeks, your Bird of Paradise will begin to put out new roots.

Propagation through seed

Birds of Paradise can also be grown from seed. This is a long but rewarding journey. The offspring however can take four to 10 years or more to flower.

The seed should be fresh, ideally less than 6 months old for the best results and chance of germination. The seeds have a hard seed coat and must be scarified.

This is done by scraping the outside of the seed with a file, just enough to break the seed’s outer coat.

If you do not want to purchase seeds, you can acquire seeds via hand pollination. In their native South Africa, the Bird of paradise is pollinated by birds.

A 6-step guide

  1. Let your seeds soak in a bowl of luke-warm water for 48 hours. Be sure to change the water daily, as this will help with the germination process. After 2 days, drain the water from your bowl. Remove any orange tufts surrounding the seeds.
  2. Scarify each of your seeds. Press them into your seed tray or pot, and then lightly cover them with soil. You’ll want your soil to be well-drained. Mix 50% compost with 50% vermiculite or potting soil.You can moisten your compost before adding it to the mixture. This lets you skip watering the soil after you’ve planted your seed, so you won’t lose soil.
  3. Cover your tray or pot with clear plastic. You can make use of a zip-lock bag, plastic film, or a clear storage crate if you have one on hand. It is essential to use something clear so that light can get in. By doing this, the effects of a greenhouse are mimicked, helping the germination process.
  4. Monitor your soil. If there is lots of condensation on your plastic, re-adjust it so as to provide ventilation. If the soil remains damp, this could cause your seeds to rot, resulting in no germination.
  5. Your seeds will take between 6 and 8 weeks to germinate. Once they have germinated, you can remove the plastic from your seed tray or pot.
  6. Once your plants have 2 new leaves each, you can safely transplant them into their pots. Keep the pots in a place where they will receive lots of bright indirect light.

Can you Propagate Bird of Paradise in Water?

No, a Bird of paradise cannot be propagated in water.It can only grow roots from its rhizome. It is unable to grow roots from stems, cuttings, or leaves.

When is the best time to propagate a Bird of paradise?

The best time to propagate your Bird of paradise through division is in early spring or summer.

This is because your plant will be going through rapid growth during its growing season, and this will help your plant recover much faster. Avoid dividing your plant during its dormant period.

How Long Until I Can Pot My New Bird of Paradise Cutting?

It is recommended you wait until roots are established before repotting your new plant. This will take roughly 8 weeks.

Until then, provide your plant with a warm environment that receives bright light.

Remember, your cutting will only need a small amount of water compared to the mother plant it came from. To avoid root rot, water sparingly.

The best propagation method

While there is no one agreed ‘best’ propagation method, propagation by division will give you a new plant almost instantly.

Growing a Bird of paradise from seed is a time-consuming process with a low success rate.

Remember that young plants will also not flower for several years. Similarly, your new plant, even if acquired through division, will not flower for the first few years.

Can You Propagate Bird of Paradise Without Roots?

Birds of paradise cannot be propagated by leaf or stem cuttings as these will not grow roots. When dividing a mature Strelitzia, be sure to include a piece of rhizome at the base.