by Kyle Sweet, The Sanctuary Golf Club, Florida Master Naturalist
Sanibel and Captiva, just a couple of the barrier islands of Southwest Florida that are home to tropical plants that make it both a visitors and gardeners paradise. The Orange Bird of Paradise is one of those plants that adds the tropical Florida flavor to any landscape.
The name, Bird of Paradise, comes from the bright orange flower that to some resembles a bird in flight and to others looks like a crested bird’s head on a long, elegant stem resembling the graceful neck of a crane. Either way is good with me!
This tropical plant grows in a clumping form with thick, gray-green leaves on long upright stems. The mature height of this versatile plant is 4-6 feet, which can easily fit any size yard. It can be used in the landscape as a tropical accent in both formal and casual designs and is often used as a focal point in the landscape as well.
It’s versatile regarding sunlight requirements. It’s typically happiest in part shade, but will grow well in full sun as well.
The sandy soils of the islands might not provide the best planting medium for this plant, so it’s recommended that good topsoil or organic peat moss be added to the hole when planting. Adding composted cow manure to the hole, combined with the topsoil, can also be a big plus to the establishment and long-term health of this plant. Orange Birds of Paradise do best with regular irrigation and need well-drained soils. Being heavy feeders, they do best with quarterly granular fertilization and respond well to supplemental organic and liquid fertilizers.
In addition to installing into your landscape, they make excellent container plants that require minimum trimming and provide a bright orange “pop” to any pool patio or outdoor lanai setting.
The Orange Bird of Paradise, a readily available, versatile and low maintenance tropical plant that might just fit the spot for that new addition to your landscape this summer.