How to Prune a Bird of Paradise? [5 Easy Steps]

What is pruning?

Pruning refers to chopping off a section of a plant. This is done for different reasons, including aesthetic appeal, keeping the plant’s size contained, and improving the general health of your plant.

For each new shoot a plant puts out, energy is needed to support the growth. By chopping down a plant, you can redirect that energy elsewhere.For this reason, pruning your plant can keep your plant healthy and encourage new growth.

Reasons for pruning your Bird of paradise

There are a few reasons you may be considering pruning your Bird of paradise. Whether for aesthetic purposes or to contain it within a space, your Bird of paradise will thank you for an occasional haircut.

Unsightly or damaged leaves, stalks, or blooms

The Bird of paradise does not drop its leaves in quick succession like most houseplants. Instead, it can hold onto those big jungle-like leaves for years at a time, meaning any damage to your plant will be staring at you for years to come.

In addition, older leaves will naturally deteriorate in appearance and become unsightly.

Flowers that are done with blooming will suffer the same fate, becoming ugly with time. Once complete with blooming, you can deadhead the flower.

Reducing size

It’s no secret that the Bird of paradise can grow very large. After all, that’s half its appeal. The Strelitzia nicolai, in particular, is capable of growing very tall. Unfortunately, space is sometimes an issue when this plant gets mature.

You can prune the plant to contain its size if space is limited. Read all about tackling an overgrown Bird of paradise here.

Benefits of pruning your plant

Pruning your plant has many different benefits. Not only does it keep your plant looking attractive, but it can also help it grow bigger in the long run. Don’t be afraid to prune your Bird of paradise. It’ll grow back, and when it does, it will reward you for looking after it with stunning new growth.

Encourages growth

As explained above, pruning your plant helps it direct its energy to where it is most needed. If your plant is looking a bit sparse, you can also consider trimming it down.

While this will reduce the size of your plant initially, you will be rewarded with plenty of new growth in the next growing season.

Removes aging and unsightly leaves

With age, leaves will naturally become unattractive. Because the Bird of paradise does not drop its leaves like most houseplants, over time it may begin to look untidy.

Any damaged, yellowing, or dry leaves can be removed from the plant. This will help tidy it up but also aid the plant in focusing its energy on new growth instead of wasting it supporting leaves that are damaged.

While the Strelitzia doesn’t require too much pruning, it is always a good idea to prune your Bird of paradise occasionally to keep it healthy.

Pruning your plant prevents the build-up of fungi and helps to increase its energy, allowing your plant to grow faster and spread wider.

Should you deadhead flowers?

The answer is yes. Deadheading your plant and getting rid of spent flowers will help your plant direct energy to more useful places instead of supporting a dying bloom. Snip spent heads off as close to the base of the plant as possible and discard the stem and bloom.

Pruning Outdoors

As the plant matures and grows taller, it is normal for the leaves at the bottom to become brown and ragged looking. These leaves will need to be cut off to keep your plant looking neat, as the Strelitzia leaves don’t tend to fall off for a long time.

Dead or dying flowers should be cut at the base of the plant. If you do not remove them, they will remain there indefinitely.

Should your upper leaves be the issue, then it is likely a watering issue. To determine which is the issue, assess your previous watering habits and adjust accordingly.

Pruning Indoors

Your indoor Bird of paradise will need very little pruning. Any dead flowers can be cut off. The flower stalk should be cut as near to the base of the plant as possible.

Avoid cutting off any leaves that aren’t visibly dying.

If your plant is becoming too big, you can cut the stems down to the base of the plant. Be careful not to remove too much growth. Where possible, only remove as much as is needed.

Carefully select which stems you will cut by sight and touch. Cut stems which will allow more light to reach the plant, or overly bushy sections. Any dying or soft leaves should be removed.

The Bird of paradise has thick stems and your kitchen scissors will likely come off second best. A good quality pair of secateurs, shears, or garden loppers are ideal. You can find these at your local nursery or online.

Always clean your tools between plants to not spread potential diseases. You can use a bar of insecticidal soap to clean them.

When is the best time to prune your Bird of paradise?

Your Bird of paradise will go through a dormancy period during the winter months. Avoid pruning your plant during these months, as recovery will take longer.

Pruning will cause some stress to your plant, so it is best left for the growing season.

What tools do you need to prune your Bird of paradise?

To prune your Bird of paradise, you’ll need the following:

When removing leaves, be sure to cut as close to the plant’s base as possible.

Avoid snipping off just the leaf, as the remaining stem is unlikely to be able to produce additional leaves, resulting in wasted energy being fed to the stem.

How to prune your Bird of paradise. A five-step guide

  1. Visually identify any unhealthy or damaged leaves on your plant. Got any spent blooms? Chopping those off will help your plant too.
  2. Cut any stems you have identified as close to the plant base as possible.
  3. Cut the stems at an angle 
  4. Next, tackle any blooms by deadheading them. Dead or dying blooms can make your plant look unsightly and serve no real purpose, so it’s best to get rid of them.
  5. Remove and discard any clippings from the plant. Avoid leaving them laying around, as this will make an attractive home for insects and can lead to a pest infestation.

When pruning, working slower is better. You can always remove leaves at a later stage, but once they are chopped off, there is no turning back.

In conclusion

While taking on the task of pruning a plant as big as the Bird of paradise might seem daunting at first, you will be rewarded for your efforts. Remember, less is more, and the Bird of paradise will not push out more than one leaf per month, so keep this in mind when you begin removing leaves.