Bird of Paradise Roots – All You Need to Know

The Bird of paradise has a tuberous root system. The root ball can reach up to 60 cm (2 ft). The plant produces rhizomes instead of traditional roots. The rhizomes grow horizontally, moving away from the plant. New stems will emerge from the rhizomes.

Over time, your plant will become crowded. It is, therefore, a good idea to consider dividing your plant when it is several years old. This will allow you to grow multiple plants while also keeping your mother plant healthy.

Does a Bird of paradise have invasive roots?

The commonly grown houseplant, Strelitzia reginae, does not have invasive roots. The Strelitzia nicolai, however, sometimes referred to as the Giant Bird of Paradise, has roots that can easily crack concrete and lift pavements.

The roots of the nicolai do not change in diameter, only in length. The tip of each root produces new cells. For this reason, the roots can push through almost anything, leaving damage in their path.

The plants are very hard to move once they have established themselves. Their roots can have a spread of up to 180 cm (6 ft).

When planting, you’ll want to keep this in mind. Avoid planting near pavements or walls. If pavements are already lifting, remove the broken piece and trim the roots underneath. Put the flat paving back. You can do this regularly if the damage is early and you are not interested in or able to remove the plant.

Do the roots of a Bird of paradise grow deep?

The roots of the Strelitzia nicolai will grow the deepest of all the Strelitzias. The thick roots will grow downwards, searching for a source of groundwater when planted in the earth.

The more common orange and yellow-flowering Strelitzias have less invasive roots. The plants as well as their roots do not get as big as the nicolais. Their roots are much easier to handle as a result.

What kind of root system does the Bird of paradise have?

The Bird of paradise has a unique root system, growing large roots that look like tubers. Beneath them sit smaller roots. They are responsible for absorbing nutrients from the ground for the plant.

The large tuberous roots of the plant are responsible for storing water for the plant to use should it experience drought-like conditions.

The Giant Bird of paradise grows massive leaves. It has a much larger root system, which is needed to help stabilize the plant. The roots of these plants are large and invasive. If this is a concern, they can be grown in a container.

Are the roots of a Bird of paradise heavy?

As your Bird of paradise grows, its root system will get incredibly heavy.

A Bird of paradise’s roots will grow in a ball formation, curling around itself in time. If you have recently watered it, this will further increase the plant’s root ball weight as it holds onto excess water.

If you have a plant that is several years old, it may be quite heavy and you may need some extra help to move the plant.

Can the Bird of paradise grow from just roots?

The Bird of paradise grows big roots. They grow tightly, in a compacted ball. Because of this, it is very difficult to extract the roots of the plant just by trying to pull them up.

Unfortunately, it is necessary to remove the entire plant and its root system if you intend to get rid of it. Failure to do so will almost guarantee that the plant will grow back.

How to remove the roots of a Bird of Paradise?

A mature Bird of paradise’s roots can easily crack and lift concrete, causing trouble. Using either a hand saw or chainsaw, cut the plant down to just below your knee.

Then, using a shovel, dig down until you can see a good chunk of the plant’s rhizomes and roots. Using your saw, further hack at the plant, steadily chopping it up.

Alternate between digging and sawing the plant until you can remove all the roots.

Take steady precautions to ensure you remove all the roots, or your efforts will be for nothing as the Bird of paradise will be able to grow back if any piece of rhizome remains.

The problem with a small root system

If the plant owner does not re-pot their Bird of paradise for several years, this may result in the plant outgrowing its pot. While the plant may look big and healthy, the root system is forced to remain small, meaning eventually it will not be able to keep up with the plant.

This leads to a lack of nutrients, despite the roots doing their best. Leaves will begin to curl, become dry, and may also turn yellow.

You’ll want to transplant your plant into a bigger size pot so that the roots have space to grow. When you are busy transplanting, you can gently nudge the roots and untangle them slightly to encourage them to grow outwards instead of curled around each other.

Never force the roots into unnatural positions, as this may damage them and even cause them to snap.

After transplanting, you can provide your plant with a drink of water to help them recover from shock a bit quicker.

Does the Bird of paradise like to be root bound?

Unlike many other houseplants, the Bird of paradise does enjoy being slightly root bound. The roots of the plant grow fast, quickly filling out the space in the pot.

Once the plant has filled the space, it focuses its energy on producing new growth instead. This is one of the reasons why being pot-bound encourages blooming in the Bird of paradise.

Are the roots of a Bird of paradise plant edible?

Strelitzia is sometimes used in traditional medicine. The roots are said to have some antibacterial and antifungal properties.

Certain parts of the plant, like the seed, are safe to use and are sometimes added to milk to make it sour more quickly.

The roots can be eaten, but aren’t commonly. They are sometimes used in traditional medicine but need to be processed before they can be used.

While these may be used traditionally, it is not recommended that you practice this yourself. Always seek advice from a trained healthcare professional.

Dealing with root rot

The Bird of paradise does not tolerate soggy soil and is prone to root rot. Unfortunately, because this takes place under the soil, sometimes it is hard to catch early.

To prevent root rot, water your plant sparingly. Allow the top few layers of soil to dry out before you water your plant again.

If you suspect root rot, remove the plant and trim off the damaged roots. Repot your plant with fresh soil.

If the root rot is not too severe, your plant should be able to recover.

In conclusion

Although the Bird of paradise has a reputation for having invasive roots, this is only true with the giant Bird of paradise plant.

To avoid the possibility of any roots venturing too far and causing trouble, consider placing your plant in a container. This gives you more control over the size and where the roots go.