How Do You Propagate Birds of Paradise?

Propagating the bird of paradise plant is usually done for two reasons. Since the plant is warmth-loving and can die from exposure to colder winter temperatures below 25oF, propagating can increase their chances of survival. A strelitzia plant suffering from root rot disease can also be treated by propagating the roots and less damaged parts to save it.

You can propagate birds of paradise by growing plant cuttings of stems and roots in a new pot or sowing seeds. Both methods work perfectly, although they are done uniquely and take different periods before new growth sprouts.

Can you grow birds of paradise in pots indoors?

You can grow the bird of paradise plant in pots and place them indoors, especially if you live in USDA zones with colder winters. Moving the pot indoors when a frost is approaching is necessary to protect it from the frost and help it survive.

Birds of paradise plants are usually potted and kept as houseplants for decoration. Their broad, waxy, banana-like leaves and beautifully colored flowers resembling a bird in flight is a great addition for a tropical flair to your space.

Growing strelitzia plants in pots indoors is easy and can be successful when provided with optimum essential elements. 

First, you need a flowerpot with enough drainage holes and a  well-draining, nutrient-rich potting mix.

After propagating the plant, put it in a sunny room or a spot with at least six hours of indirect sunlight. Water the plant once every 1-2 weeks, install a humidifier, or mist it daily for higher than the minimum 50% humidity levels. Treating any fungal infections and feeding the plant with liquid-based fertilizer is vital to making the indoor strelitzia plant thrive.

How to propagate the bird of paradise plant

Propagating the bird of paradise plant is straightforward. It produces new growth if done correctly. The two most effective methods to propagate the strelitzia plant are planting divisions or cuttings and sowing seeds. 

However, divisions or cuttings grow and mature faster than sowed seeds.

Propagating the bird of paradise by divisions

A mature bird of paradise plant’s stem, leaves, and roots can be cut and grown to develop a younger one. An ideal mother plant must have bloomed efficiently in at least the last three years.

You can grow the divisions directly on the ground outside in warmer locations of USDA zones 10-12. However,  potting the young plants indoors is preferred to protect them from the harsh weather outdoors. Transfer the pot outside after the new growth has stood upright and its roots established.

The best time of the year to propagate the bird of paradise through divisions or cuttings is early spring, just before new growths start sprouting. Timely watering, at least six hours of indirect sunlight exposure, and feeding the plant with liquid fertilizer are the basic requirements to develop the divisions after planting them.

To propagate your strelitzia plant by cuttings, you will need:

  • A sharp, clean knife
  • A rooting hormone 
  • A fresh, nutrient-rich potting mix 
  • A new pot with enough drainage holes

Below is a step-by-step guide to propagating your bird of paradise plant.

  1. Water the mother plant a day before removing it from the pot to loosen the soil around its roots. It makes it easy to remove the plant from the pot. Watering also helps harden the plant, preventing it from drying during propagation.
  2. Tilt the pot and let it lay on its side. Hold the plant tightly by its stems and gently pull it from the pot’s soil. Be careful not to damage the roots.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
  3. After pulling the plant,  rinse the root ball with a water hose to remove the soil. The roots should be clean and separate to make slicing the root ball easier.
  4. Using a sharp, clean knife, cut the large rootball clumps with more than five shoots into a single division. Each section must have roots to propagate them successfully. The division should also have a few leaves and stems. Sterilize the knife after a few cuts.
  5. Spread the healing hormone on the cut root ball parts before planting them.
  6. Prepare your new pot and add potting mix to it. The flowerpot should be big enough to contain the new roots and have suitable drainage holes. For the potting mix, loamy soil mixed with sand and compost is favorable for growing the divisions
  7. Add the cuttings into the new pot with the potting mix, ensuring you dip them in the exact previous depth from the mother plant. Position the container in a spot with enough direct sunlight. Avoid watering the newly planted divisions. Let the cut sections with the hormones dry first before watering.
  8. After the cuts heal, sprinkle water onto the potting mix to rinse the divisions. The soil should always be moist and not completely dry or soggy. Irrigating after 1-2 weeks encourages new growth. Create a watering schedule to know when next to water your potted plant.

Strelitzia cuttings usually start sprouting after two weeks when watered correctly and provided with the proper humidity. The roots start getting firmer, and the plant stands upright after about three months. Continue watering the plant correctly and applying liquid fertilizer following the spring season. 

A plant propagated by division takes about three years to start blooming.

Propagating the bird of paradise plant by seeds

Sowing strelitzia seeds is also an excellent method to propagate the plant. However, birds of paradise seeds take longer to sprout and mature. You will need a lot of patience to propagate your bird of paradise plant from seeds.

Mature strelitzia plants bloom to produce flowers and pods containing seeds. The pods later spill to release the seeds harvested for planting. Alternatively, you can buy the seeds from gardening stores and sow them.

The best time of the year to sow the bird of paradise seeds is in fall.

Apart from the seeds, you will also need

  •  A pot with enough drainage holes
  •  Water
  • A basin
  • A nourished potting mix for seed propagation. 

Here’s how to propagate birds of paradise from seeds.

  1. Soak the seeds in a basin with water at room temperature for about three days before planting them. Soaking the seeds softens their hard seed coats to promote faster germination. Use fresh, clean water and change it daily for the three days you’ll be soaking them.

Alternatively, place the seeds in a plastic bag and freeze them for about 14 days before planting them. Afterward, cut the soaked or frozen seeds’ seedcoat with a sharp knife to increase the germination rate.

  1. Add potting mix to the container and moisten it lightly. Add the seeds into the moist potting soil, ensuring you dip them ½ to one inch below the topsoil.
  2. Water the seeds infrequently with less water daily to encourage them to germinate and sprout.

The bird of paradise plant seeds take longer to sprout — usually at least two months — and may extend up to a year. Placing the pot in a spot with enough indirect sunlight and favorable temperature promotes faster sprouting. Cover the top part of the pot with mulch to retain moisture and mist the plant always to encourage more rapid growth.

After the plant develops steadily, you can transplant it outside on the ground or into a new pot.

A strelitzia plant propagated from seeds will take about five years to mature and start blooming. Feed it with a liquid fertilizer to maintain a healthy plant in the active growth season.

Can you propagate a strelitzia leaf in water?

Propagating a strelitzia leaf in water is not possible. There must be roots in the cut sections for new growth, such as leaves, roots, and stems from developing. The roots spread, firm up the plant, and allow newer stems and roots to emerge.

However, a strelitzia leaf in water lacks the roots to promote growth. Therefore, the plant will not successfully propagate itself.

Can you plant bird of paradise cuttings without roots?

You cannot plant birds of paradise cuttings such as the stem and leaves without roots. The rhizome containing the root hairs is essential to promote newer stems and roots to develop. Lack of roots discourages newer growth, and the plant won’t propagate itself.


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