Strelitzia - Strelizia - Musaceae - How to care for and cultivate Strelizia plants



There Strelitzia or bird of paradise, this masterpiece of nature, is considered so valuable that in some tribes in South Africa it is used only to adorn the hut of the chief or the sorcerer.






: Angiosperms


: Monocotyledons











: see the paragraph on "Main species"


The genre Strelitzia belonging to family of Strelitziaceais it includes plants native to southern Africa that are highly regarded for their incredible beauty.

There Strelitzia is a herbaceous plant, perennial, it has a bushy, acaulous habit, with large fleshy and fasciculated roots which, if cultivated outdoors, develop in the ground for a depth of one meter.

We describe in detail the Strelitzia reginae as it is the most widespread, used and known species.

Leaves they are oval, elliptical, provided with a very marked median rib, very large, even 20 cm wide and up to 50 cm long, leathery, covered with bloom on the underside, with wavy margins and marked ribs and are supported by 100-150 long petioles cm.

The inflorescences, carried by long stems, longer than the foliar ones of cylindrical and erect shape, are formed by a slightly variegated green leathery spathe red, which in juvenile age is placed in an erect position and when adult is at 90 °.

Inside the stem there are from 5 to 8 flowers, each formed by three tepals (in plants where there is no distinction between calyx and corolla, the elements that make up the flower are called tepals) which in Strelitzia reginae they are orange in color and form the chalice: two located on one side and the other on the opposite side.The corolla is formed by three blue tepals of which the short upper one in the shape of a cap and the two lower ones joined together to form a halberd alabard. It has five stamens, completely hidden, and a single filiform style about 10cm long with an inferior ovary.

The strelitzia in nature are pollinated by small birds that do not exist in our climates, therefore all our plants are artificially pollinated.

The fruit it is a trilocular capsule in which the semi-rounded, blacks are formed, with aril (external part of the seed) colored orange and feathery.

They are very long-lived plants. There have been reports of strelitzia over the age of 100.


The genre Strelitzia includes several species among which we recall:


There Strelitzia reginae it is certainly the best known of the genus and is a plant native to southern Africa.

Its inflorescences take on yellow-orange colors and the flowers, in number of 5 or 6, are opened in sequence. The leaves are long and elliptical in shape and its habit is bushy.


There Strelitzia alba orStrelitzia augusta, native to South Africa, has more elongated and narrower leaves than it Strelitzia reginae and can reach several meters in height. The flowers are white enclosed by a spathe of a deep beautiful green tending to purple.

It is a majestic plant that can reach up to ten meters in height.


There Strelitzia juncea, also originally from South Africa, it has the particularity of having needle-like and erect leaves that grow up to two meters in height.

Its flower is very similar to that of the Strelitziareginae.

Until recently it was considered a variety of Strelitzia parvifolia but in 1974, it was elevated to the rank of a species in its own right as it has its own genetic characteristics.


There Strelitzia nicolajnative to South America, it is an imposing plant with woody stems branching from the base of the ground and can reach up to eight meters in height.

The leaves are very large, of a beautiful bright green, up to three meters long and even 1.5 meters wide. The flowers are light blue, white or lilac with a very dark blue spatula.


There Strelitzia in spite of its imposing appearance which almost arouses fear it is, surprisingly, not particularly difficult to cultivate and resists even in non-optimal environmental conditions.

Cultivation temperatures are between 13 ° C and 21 ° C. Never below 5 ° C.

It can be grown outdoors in regions with particularly mild climates where temperatures do not drop below 5 ° C otherwise, during the winter season it should be taken to a sheltered place.

Fundamental to the Strelitzia is the light. It must be as intense as possible and can also be placed in full sun but not in the sun during the central hours of the summer day.

There Strelitzia loves the air therefore it is important that the environment in which it is found is often ventilated but without creating currents of air, especially cold ones.

Contrary to what happens with other plants, theStrelitzia enters vegetative rest in June-July.

It is important to regularly clean the leaves with a soft, damp cloth and never use foliar polish.


There Strelitzia it should be watered very generously with the exception of the vegetative rest period (June-July) during which it is watered much more moderately.

Between one watering and the other it is necessary that the soil dries up to the surface.

The plant loves humid environments therefore it benefits from nebulizations to the leaves but being careful not to wet the flowers.


There Strelitzia it is repotted every year at the beginning of spring, and until it has reached five years of age. A slightly larger pot size than the previous one is used until the pot size of 30 cm in diameter is reached.

After five years, that is to say when the plant is considered ripe and has begun to bloom, it should no longer be repotted or disturbed in any way, under penalty of suspension of flowering. They remove the first centimeters of soil (2-3 cm) and replace them with new soil, in spring, when the plant is not in bloom.

For repotting and replacing the soil, use a good fertile soil, based on mature manure, to which you will add a little coarse sand to favor the drainage of the irrigation water. Strelitzia in fact do not tolerate water stagnation. To do this, place small pieces of earthenware on the bottom of the vase that favor the drainage of excess water.

I always recommend using clay pots that favor the breathing of the earth.


From October to May it is necessary to fertilize once a month with a liquid fertilizer administered together with the irrigation water.

As for the type of fertilizer to be administered, for theStrelitzia it has been calculated that when the plant is young, that is to say it is less than five years old (therefore it has not yet flowered), the supply of nutritional elements must be more concentrated on Potassium and Nitrogen and in proportion, halved amount for Phosphorus.

When the plant exceeds five years, the potassium intake must be more than double compared to nitrogen and phosphorus in a minimum quantity.In any case, take care not to neglect the microelements such as manganese (Mn) which influences the formation of chlorophyll, copper (Cu) which acts on the respiratory enzymes and boron (B) which acts on the development of the vegetative apexes, all important, even if in minimal quantities for a correct and balanced growth of this plant.

Once / twice a year do an iron shell treatment to correct the limestone of the soil and thus make the iron available for the plant.


There Strelitzia it blooms from autumn to late spring and not before reaching five years of age.


Usually the Strelitzia it cannot be pruned. The leaves that gradually dry up must simply be eliminated to prevent them from becoming a vehicle for parasitic diseases.

Make sure that the tool you use for cutting is clean and disinfected (preferably with a flame) to avoid infecting the tissues.


The multiplication of the Streliziait can happen by seed (in this case you will have to wait at least five years before seeing the flowers) or more simply and quickly by division of the plant.


In June, the plant is removed from the pot and with a sharp, clean and disinfected knife, the root mass is divided in two.

The cut surfaces are treated with a powdered sulfur-based fungicide and the individual portions are planted in separate pots.

Place the pots in a warm and bright place but not in direct sun and keep the soil just moist.

It will take about a month and a half before the individual plants take root. After this period, start treating the new plants as adult plants.


The plant has a shabby appearance, a stunted growth and the leaves first the external ones and then the internal ones turn yellow and then wither

After the first symptoms, the collar of the plant is browned. If you remove the plant from the pot, the roots appear softened and browned. All of these are the classic root and basal rot symptoms caused by the Phytophtora spp fungus. which develops mainly following excessive watering.
Remedies: first you need to remove the plant from the pot and eliminate all the damaged parts. After that the cut parts must be treated with a broad spectrum fungicide powder. Then let the earth dry well, put the plant back in the pot and wait at least a week before watering to give the cut surfaces time to heal. For the future, better regulate irrigation.

The inflorescences that have just emerged from the spathe have brown spots, slightly depressed, of an irregular shape, in correspondence with which a rubbery substance is formed

if you observe this symptomatology you are in the presence of a fusariosis, caused by a fungus, the Fusarium spp.
Remedies: the fight against this fungus is based, in addition to a reduction in environmental humidity, thanks to which this fungus proliferates, also with the treatment with specific fungicides.

Necrotic spots on the leaves and a gray mold

these symptoms are generally the symptom of the presence of gray mold, a fungus, the Botrytis spp.

Remedies: immediately eliminate the infected parts and treat with a specific fungicide. The remedies against Botrytis are first of all preventive, as this fungus is favored by the humidity of the air and excessive watering.

Spots on the underside of the leaves

Spots on the underside of the leaves could mean that you are in the presence of mealy bugs. To be sure, it is recommended that you make use of a magnifying glass and observe yourself. Compare it with the photo on the side. They are features, you can't go wrong. Also if you try to remove them with a fingernail, they come off easily.

Remedies: remove them with a cotton swab soaked in alcohol or if the plant is large and potted, you can wash it with water and neutral soap, rubbing very gently with a sponge to remove the parasites, after which the plant is varisced very well to eliminate all the soap. For larger plants planted outdoors, you can use specific pesticides available from a good nurseryman.

Leaves that begin to turn yellow, appear mottled with yellow and brown

If the leaves begin to turn yellow and after these manifestations crumple, they take on an almost powdery appearance and fall off. Observing carefully you can also notice some thin cobwebs especially on the underside of the leaves. With this symptomatology we are very likely in the presence of an attack of red spider, a very annoying and harmful mite.

Remedies: increase the frequency of nebulizations to the foliage (the lack of humidity favors their proliferation) and possibly, only in the case of particularly serious infestations, use a specific insecticide. If the plant is not particularly large, you can also try cleaning the leaves to mechanically eliminate the parasite using a wet and soapy cotton ball. After that the plant must be rinsed very well to remove all the soap.

Presence of small whitish animals on the plant

If you notice small white-yellowish-greenish mobile insects you are almost certainly in the presence of aphids or as they are commonly called lice.Observe them with a magnifying glass and compare them with the photo on the side, they are unmistakable, you can't go wrong.

Remedies: treat the plant with specific pesticides readily available from a good nurseryman.


There Strelitzia was introduced in Europe by Banks in the late 1700s, curator of the Botanical Garden of Kew Gardens (RoyalBotanic Gardens of Kew) of London, and was dedicated to the widow of King George III, Queen Charlotte Sophia of Mecklenburg-Strelitz from which both the name of the genus and the species derive.

In Italy it was introduced for the first time in the gardens of villaHambury in 1912, created by Thomas Hanbury (a Londoner in love with the Ligurian coast) and which extend, on the promontory of Mortola, near the hamlet of Latte di Ventimiglia. For many years it remained a plant confined to a few amateurs and to botanists. Then it gradually spread first in Sicily, where it began to cultivate it in the open ground and subsequently the floricultural companies discovered it and began its cultivation on an industrial level (especially in Liguria) assuming a leading position in the industry of cut flowers becoming as precious as the orchids.

There Strelitzia reginae it is also known as bird of paradise and in its area of ​​origin, South Africa, it is so appreciated that in some tribes it is used only to adorn the coat of the chief or the sorcerer.

It was painted by many painters.Famous is the painting by the artist Man Ray (Philadelphia, 1890 - Paris, 1976), Misunderstood (photo below).

How to grow sterlizia (strelitia reginae - Bird of paradise)

There Sterlizia (Strelitia Reginae), better known as the "Bird of Paradise" is a magnificent plant. It is so named for its particular shape of the flower, as it recalls the profile of the exotic Bird of paradise. Such a plant has origins from Africa southern, and can only be cultivated if you have one available huge porch with a stained glass window. Furthermore, the Sterlizia is also known with the name of "winter garden", allowing to manage the temperature, humidity, exposing the plant to the sun directly. With this tutorial we will explain how to cultivate the Sterlizia. Happy reading and good work!

Species and varieties

Strelitzia augusta (syn. S. alba): this species has oblong and dark green leaves, which can reach up to two meters in length. From the axilla of the lower leaves originates the short scape that bears the white flowers, enclosed in a dark purple spatiform bract. It blooms from October to November and can reach 5-6 m. in height.

Strelitzia parvifolia: of this acaule species there is a variety in cultivation: "Juncea". This has leaves, with a not very large lamina, carried by 1.2-1.5 m long petioles, gathered in thick tufts that resemble swamp rush bushes. A green bract, carried to the top of the flower scapes, opens in April-May making the blue and yellow of the flowers visible.

Strelitzia reginae o Bird of paradise: native to southern Africa, this acaulous species has a thick head of glossy, leathery, oval leaves with an evident central vein, 30-40 cm long, of a bright green color with bluish shades, carried from robust petioles up to 75 cm long. From October to May, flower stems, even more than a meter long, carry at the top a spatiform bract, sharp, 20 cm long, of a green color tinged with purple, which opening allows 5-6 flowers formed by yellow sepals to bloom in sequence -orange and three violet-blue petals (one, the shortest, cap-shaped, the other two sagittate and welded). It can grow up to 90-120cm.

Strelitzia nicolai: native to South Africa, with moderate growth, up to 8 m tall with leaves similar to those of the banana tree, up to three meters long with the lamina of about 1.5 ml flowers gathered in inflorescences similar to the beak of a heron of color from purplish to dark bluish.

Strelitzia nicolai (photo

Strelitzia nicolai (photo

Strelitzia - Strelizia - Musaceae - How to care for and cultivate Strelizia plants

There Strelitzia, known as the "Bird of Paradise", is a plant with an imposing and elegant appearance. Towards the end of the 18th century, the curator of Royal Botanic Gardens of Kew introduced a beautiful Musacea from Africa to Europe which was dedicated to the widow of King George III, Queen Charlotte Sofia of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. From it derives both the name of the genus and of the species Strelitzia reginae.

In Italy, the Strelitzia it was introduced for the first time in Villa Hambury in 1912, but for many years it remained a plant confined to the botanical gardens, until it began to be cultivated in Sicily and Liguria where it soon assumed a leading position in the cut flower industry , like the precious orchids.

The diseases

It is not a difficult plant to grow, indeed, it resists well even in non-optimal environments. However, if its appearance is shabby, the growth is stunted and the leaves, first the external ones and then the internal ones, turn yellow and wither, you can try to remove the plant from the ground to examine the collar and roots. If they look brown, it is rot caused by Phytophthora spp. which develops mainly following excessive watering. First, the plant is removed from the pot and all the damaged parts are eliminated, the cut ones are treated with a broad spectrum fungicide powder. Then, let the earth dry, put the plant back in the pot and wait at least a week before watering to give the cut surfaces time to heal.

If the leaves begin to turn yellow and yellow and / or brown spots appear, it is almost certainly the presence of gray mold from Botrytis or of Alternaria. Also in this case, eliminate the infected parts and treat with a specific fungicide.

If theand inflorescences just released from the spathe have brown spots, slightly depressed and of irregular shape in correspondence with which a rubbery substance is formed, the cause is an attack from Fusarium. Also in this case it is necessary to intervene with specific fungicides. But it can also be a bacteriosis (Pseudomonas), in which case circular, more or less regular, dark brown spots appear, with halo these spots can converge in large necrotic areas capable of killing the whole leaf or parts of it. Symptomatic leaves must be eliminated promptly.

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How to preserve the cut strelitzia

Le strelitzia is a very pretty flower and colorful that usually, when it fades, is thrown away, a mistake that almost all of us make. From now on you won't do it anymore because you have to know that in the yellow bud, cutting the sheath, you will find some beautiful flowers and that therefore the corolla she never died as expected. Here are a few good advice in the guide that I propose to you on how to store the strelitzia cut.

They belong to the Musaceae family from East Africa, which is quite valuable for the locals and is adorned in the hut of the sorcerer or the chief. A very long-lasting plant with a bushy gait with large roots that if grown outdoors develop with a depth of one meter. Composed of oval leaves provided with marked ribs 20 cm wide and up to 50 cm long, covered by bloom in the lower part with wavy edges and the ribs are carried by 100 or 150 cm petioles. Inside the spathe there are up to eight flowers each formed by three tepals, the inflorescences carried by stems are cylindrical in shape. Formed by an orange-colored chalice and a blue corolla, it has five completely hidden stamens, often pollinated by small birds not like ours artificially. Inside with trilocular capsule where seeds are formed. In youth it is placed in an upright position while when it is adult it is placed at 90 °.

As written at the beginning it would be a waste to throw them away because you just need to open the tuft with a scissors and you will find many new buds, on the plant they come out by themselves, but if they are possessed they need your green thumb. With a small stick, or even with a crochet, gently pull them out on each tuft, so your strelitzia will last even more than 20-25 days.
Attention always remember to extip them and not to cut them to favor a greater growth.

I also advise you to use the leaves of this beautiful vegetable, in fact, if dried up, they take on fantastic shapes. You can dry them on the radiator or in the oven at a very low temperature with the door a little open to prevent them from cooking.
You can then color them with gold or silver paint, creating artistic compositions or simply displaying them on the furniture and will give an extra touch of originality to your home. We have reached this third and final step of the guide.

We show you how to water the Sterlizia which also needs fertilizer

Watering must be regular and constant, especially in periods of drought and also during flowering. You will have to wait for the surface of the soil to dry before watering again. During the winter season, watering must be removed, but always making sure that the soil does not become dry.
The plant also needs to be fertilized with particular products.

Video: Strelitzia nicolai - Giant white bird of paradise

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