Strelitzia nicolai or White Bird of Paradise is native, as Strelitzia reginae, of South Africa.
It grows much taller than Strelitzia reginae and its flowers are similar but with white sepals.
This beautiful plant looks like a banana, because of its large leaves, and like the traveler’s tree, because the leaves are fan-like.
Strelitzia nicolai can grow up to 10 m in height in its habitat, about 1.5-2 m in cultivation. It forms large clumps up to 3.5 m wide with strong roots and it is better not to plant it near a building or pavement.
The leaves are gray-green and can be 180 cm long. They grow fan-like, like the traveler’s tree.
The flowers have a gray-blue bract, white sepals and a blue tongue. They will appear at the top of the pseudo-stem and can measure 18 cm high and 45 cm long.
Bird-of-Paradise-Tree, Giant Bird of Paradise, White Bird of Paradise, White Bird-of-Paradise, Wild Banana
Strelitzia: in honor of Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, wife of King George III
Nicolai: in honor of Nicolas II of Russia
Forest and shrubbery near the coast
USDA zone 10-11
Will do well in any kind of substrate provided it is rich and well drained
Sun, light.Young plants do not like direct sunlight, this can lead to burning of the leaves. A mature plant prefers full sun since this will promote flowering.
A mature plant doesn’t need a lot of water but keep the soil moist.
Repot annually to obtain vigorous growth
Fertilize every 2 weeks, from March to September
May spend the summer outside but has to be brought indoors during winter from USDA zone 9Propagation:Seed, suckers
- remove the orange tuft from the seed
- soak 1 day in tepid water
- sow in a mixture of topsoil, sand and peat moss
- doesn’t need a very high temperature to germinate: 25 °C. A lower temperature will slow down germination.
- germination: 4-8 weeks
When sown, will not flower before 3 to 6 years.
- Strelitzia nicolai flower: Paul Dunleavy
- Strelitzia nicolai plant: Forest & Kim Starr