How to Care for Strelitzia Nicolai (White Bird of Paradise)

With its large, vibrant leaves and tropical look, the Strelitzia nicolai plant, also known as the giant white bird of paradise, makes a stunning houseplant. Native to South Africa, this arching plant can grow up to 20 feet tall in its natural habitat but typically reaches 3-8 feet indoors.

Caring for these beauties is straightforward when you understand their needs. Follow these Strelitzia nicolai care tips and you’ll have a happy, healthy houseplant for years to come.

Light Requirements

Strelitzia nicolai thrives in bright, direct light. These plants prefer at least 4-6 hours of direct southern, eastern, or western sun exposure every day. Insufficient light leads to small, droopy leaves and leggy growth.

Place your bird of paradise in a sunny spot near a window where it will get the brightest light in your home. Watch for signs of insufficient light like excessive leaf splitting and slow growth. Rotate the plant periodically for even sun coverage.


Check the soil moisture before watering your Strelitzia nicolai. These plants enjoy soil that is moist but not soggy. Allow the top few inches of soil to dry out between waterings then soak the pot completely until water drains from the bottom.

Aim to water when the top 50% of the soil becomes dry. The large leaves drink up moisture, so your plant may need water every 5-7 days in brighter light or less often in lower light. Never let the soil fully dry out.

Always pour off any water that collects in the saucer to prevent soggy soil. Good drainage is key to prevent root rot in these moisture-loving plants.


High humidity is a must for Strelitzia nicolai plants. Their tropical origins mean humidity of 60% or above is ideal. Run a humidifier nearby, mist the leaves often, and group other plants together to boost moisture in the air.

Low humidity causes excessive leaf splitting and tip browning. Mist the leaves daily or several times a week if your home’s humidity is very low. Setting the pot on a pebble tray also adds evaporative humidity.


Daytime temperatures of 65-80°F and above 50°F at night suit the Strelitzia nicolai best. Avoid drafty areas as these plants dislike cold and fluctuating temperatures. Move away from air vents, doors, windows, or air conditioning.

If temperatures drop much below 60°F, you may see slowed growth. Over 80°F can also stress the plant. Stable indoor temperatures keep your bird of paradise happiest.


Use a well-draining potting mix for Strelitzia nicolai plants. A quality potting soil containing perlite, bark, peat moss, and compost materials provides the fast drainage these plants need.

You can also amend regular potting soil with perlite, orchid bark, or horticultural charcoal. The goal is a loose, airy mix that won’t get waterlogged. Let the top few inches dry between waterings.

Re-pot every 2 years into a container just 2-4 inches larger. These plants like being slightly rootbound. Too large a pot holds excess moisture.


Feed your Strelitzia nicolai with a balanced liquid fertilizer every 2-4 weeks during spring and summer. Dilute to half strength and apply when watering your plant. Look for a nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium or NPK ratio like 10-10-10.

These heavy feeders thrive with regular fertilizer. You can use an all-purpose houseplant formula or something specifically for flowering plants. Stop fertilizing in fall and winter when growth slows.


Remove any dead, damaged, or unsightly leaves at the base as needed to maintain a tidy appearance. Healthy green leaves can also be trimmed to reduce the overall size and manageability of your plant.

Pruning is especially helpful for leggy plants to encourage bushier new growth. Cut the stems back above leaf nodes or emerging buds. Wipe pruning shears with alcohol between cuts to prevent disease spread.

Common Issues

Knowing how to identify and treat potential problems will keep your bird of paradise thriving:

  • Drooping leaves – From too little water or humidity. Increase both.

  • Leaf tip browning – Due to low humidity. Mist leaves often.

  • Leaf splitting – Caused by low humidity or inconsistent watering. Increase humidity and water thoroughly.

  • Few new leaves – Not enough sunlight. Rotate plant or move to a brighter location.

  • Leggy growth – Needs more light. Prune leggy parts and move to a sunnier spot.

  • Root rot – Overwatering issue. Allow soil to partly dry before watering.


You can propagate Strelitzia nicolai plants from seeds or by dividing the rhizomes when re-potting. Here’s how to get new plants for free:

  • Division – Gently separate rooted shoots from the main plant. Re-plant in a small pot.

  • Seeds – Use fresh ripe seeds from a flower pod. Sow in moist seed starting mix. Keep warm.

  • Suckers – Remove suckers or pups growing off the main stem. Pot separately in seedling mix.

Misting and warmth help new divisions, seeds, and suckers root faster. Keep them moist but not soaked as they establish. Pot up plants once several new leaves emerge.


There are a few varieties of this large, white bird of paradise species:

  • Strelitzia nicolai – The common white bird of paradise houseplant. Grows up to 20 feet tall!

  • Strelitzia nicolai ‘Gigantea’ – A cultivated variety with even larger leaves growing up to 4 feet long.

  • Strelitzia ‘Mandela’s Gold’ – A hybrid with yellow and white variegated leaves. Slower growing.


Get additional answers to common questions about caring for these stately plants.

How often do I water Strelitzia nicolai?
Water deeply whenever the top few inches of soil become dry. Allow the soil to partially dry out between waterings.

What size pot does a Strelitzia nicolai need?
Use a container 2-4 inches wider than the current nursery pot. These plants like being somewhat rootbound.

Where should I place my Strelitzia houseplant?
Give it the brightest light in your home, near a south-facing window if possible. Rotating for even sun is helpful.

Why are the leaves splitting on my bird of paradise?
Low humidity causes the leaves to split and dry out on the edges. Mist and use a humidifier to increase humidity to 60% or above.

How do I get my Strelitzia to flower indoors?
These plants rarely flower as houseplants. Very bright light, perfect care, and maturity may coax bloom, but it’s uncommon indoors. Enjoy the foliage.

Bring the Tropics Indoors

With striking wide leaves on tall, arching stems, the giant white bird of paradise makes a spectacular houseplant. Follow these care tips to keep your Strelitzia nicolai growing strong and looking its best.

A bit of diligence to provide bright light, frequent humidity, warm temperatures, and quick drainage will help this South African native thrive indoors. Your bird of paradise will reward you with huge, vibrant leaves and a unique tropical look.

Things Not To Do

Don’t overwater your plant or let it sit in water. Always check the bottom of the ceramic and pour any excess water away. If you water too much, brown spots may appear on the leaves. If you water too little, dry, brown leaf edges may appear.

Avoid dark corners or too much shade, as this will slow down growth. Also, don’t put your plant near a radiator or in a draft, as this could dry out the leaves too quickly.

It’s not common for the plant to bloom outside of its natural habitat, unlike Bird of Paradise cut flowers. This plant needs at least six hours of sunlight a day to bloom.

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strelitzia nicolai how to take care

strelitzia nicolai how to take care

strelitzia nicolai how to take care

strelitzia nicolai how to take care

strelitzia nicolai how to take care

strelitzia nicolai how to take care

strelitzia nicolai how to take care

strelitzia nicolai how to take care

Strelitzia Nicolai Care Guide

The Strelitzia Nicolai is, without a doubt, one of our favourite plants here at The Little Botanical. With huge glossy leaves, it’s a stunning indoor plant that flourishes with a bit of TLC.

The plant is also called the Crane Flower, the Bird of Paradise, and the Wild Banana Plant. It’s a cousin of the banana, which is why it looks so similar.

Read more over on our blog: The Beautiful Bird of Paradise | Strelitzia

Water your plant once a week or when the top layer of soil is dry

Increase humidity in the winter months when the heating is on and the air is drier

Position in a bright spot but avoid direct sunlight

strelitzia nicolai how to take care

The Strelitzia Nicolai is happiest when most of its soil is damp. Before watering, only let the top layer of soil dry out first. You can check this by dipping your finger about two inches into the soil. Aim to water your plant once a week- 10 days depending on the time of year. Before you water again, please check to see if the top layer of soil is still wet. If it is, give it a few more days.

Your birds of paradise enjoy plenty of sunlight, so place it somewhere bright and sunny. In the middle of summer, don’t let the leaves get too much sun. They could get burned and turn brown.

The Strelitzia does best when there is more humidity, so mist your plant when the air is dry and the heat is on in the winter.

Don’t worry if you notice your plant’s leaves splitting at the ends. In the wild, this is normal and happens all the time. It lets light reach the lower parts of the plant.

To encourage even growth, we recommend rotating your plant monthly, so all parts of the plant receive light.

Dust those big paddle shaped leaves. The plant will be happiest being able to absorb as much light as possible.

If you eat this plant, it could be harmful, so keep it away from kids and pets that are curious.

5 Quick tips Strelitzia nicolai White Bird of Paradise Strelitzia reginae

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