Strelizie: care and varieties

Strelizie: care and varieties


The name of the Strelitzia does not seem to match its South African homeland - at least it sounds anything but African, but rather German. And this impression is not deceptive. Because the flower with the ornate blossoms came at the end of the 18th century to Joseph Banks, the director of the London Botanical Garden, who created the exotic novelty of the wife of the current British King George III. dear. It was the German Sophie Charlotte von Mecklenburg-Strelitz - so it came about that the Strelitzie was named after a German noble family.

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The German, non-scientific name of the best-known species, the King's Strelitzia, is, as usual, somewhat emotionally descriptive - it is also called a bird of paradise or parrot flower because its flower with the colorful, radial bracts and bracts has the profile of an exotic bird's head resemble a long feather comb.

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The Strelitzia is a perennial and, depending on the variety, grows with or without a trunk. All species form clumps via rhizomes, that is, round “nests” that do not spread widely over runners. In terms of height, the Strelitzia varieties vary between two and ten meters - so they can become very impressive plants. In this form, however, they can only be cultivated outdoors or in large greenhouses in botanical gardens.

Once again at a glance:

  • shrub
  • some varieties with, some without stem formation
  • Heights between 2 and 10 meters


The tree-like growing Strelitzia form basal leaves in a two-row arrangement. They are very large, green, long-stemmed and have a leathery texture. They are a little bit like the leaves of banana trees. The leaves of the rush-strelitzia have a slightly different appearance, namely a rush-like one: their long, needle-like fronds hardly have a leaf blade and are also clearly lighter green in color.


The flower is certainly one of the most characteristic features of the Strelizie. The King's Strelitzia in particular, with its splendid, artfully structured inflorescence, is also very popular as a cut flower.

The botanical properties of the Strelitzia flower are its hermaphroditic gender, its zygomorphic structural symmetry and its threefold nature.

Visually, the boat-shaped bract is particularly striking, which envelops the inflorescence in all varieties and forms the basis for the overall radial structure. In addition, the bract, with a length of up to 10 centimeters, ensures the impressive overall appearance of the flower. The bracts on the bract are arranged in two circles, also pointed and long and each of different sizes.

The colors also make the Strelitzia flower an attraction: The spectrum ranges from bright orange to corn yellow with individual stripes in blue-purple or white with blue-green to ice-blue accents.

The characteristics of the Strelitzia flower:

  • artful, plume-like structure reminiscent of an exotic bird's head
  • hermaphroditic, zygomorphic, threefold
  • large, boat-shaped bract
  • bright colors from orange-blue to white-blue


When it comes to the flowering period of the Strelitzia, it is important to first bloom for the first time - it does not produce a first blossom until around 4 years of age. The flowering phase usually lasts around 4 weeks and falls into a different phase of the year depending on the variety. In general, however, the flowering phase comes in the first half of the year between December and October.

The King's Strelitzia, for example, can delight with its flowers as early as the Christmas season if it stands in a warm place in winter. If it is cooler, however, it can wait until early summer to do so.

The rush strelitzia, on the other hand, generally shows its blossoming later, between May and October.

To note:

  • Strelizie does not flower for the first time until it is 4 years old
  • Flowering phase around 4 weeks
  • Depending on the variety, the flowering phase falls between December and October

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If you want to keep a magnificent Strelitzia at home, as with all exotic southern plants, the bucket requirement applies. Because the African beauty is not hardy, so she has to spend our frosty winter indoors. An alternative that may not be available to you as a hobby gardener is an inner bed in the greenhouse or winter garden.

Another thing you need to consider carefully is the choice of strain. Because the tree-like growing varieties cannot be kept in the house or apartment. They are therefore most likely to be found in botanical gardens, where meter-high greenhouses (€ 34.95 on Amazon *) are available.

Of course, if you have a high winter garden, you can also consider growing a not-so-large tree Strelitzia, for example. The white or the mountain Strelitzia are probably only suitable for cultivation in the public show greenhouse.

Only the stemless species are suitable as indoor plants, namely the King's Strelitzia, which is considered the most beautiful and popular anyway, and the Rush Strelitzia.

  • Strelitzia not hardy - at least in winter indoor compulsory
  • tree-like growing Strelizia only suitable for owners of high winter gardens
  • Trunkless Strelizia suitable for indoor culture

Which location is suitable?

As a location, Strelitzia prefer a bright, spacious place with moderate warmth. Because even if they are not frost-hardy, temperatures that are too high are not suitable for the local culture - they lead to a growth and size that is difficult to handle. It is best to offer your Strelitzia a temperature range between 8 and 18 ° C. But it shouldn't get any cooler in winter. In summer you can also put the plant outside, depending on its size. But avoid full sun.

Important: After the flowers have opened, do not move the Strelitzia any more - this will stop flowering!


  • Bright
  • not too cold and not too warm (8-18 ° C)
  • Do not move after opening the flowers

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What soil does the plant need?

Strelitzia prefer a nutrient-rich soil with a certain amount of clay as a substrate - but good permeability must also be ensured, as their fleshy roots cannot tolerate waterlogging. It is best to prepare a mixture of loamy soil, ripe compost, if necessary some nourishing horse manure and some sand to loosen it.


Fortunately, the Strelittzie does not have to be repotted very often. Given the sometimes stately sizes and the sensitive root ball, this is not an entirely trivial undertaking. Usually a pot change is only necessary every three years and this less because of the increasing tightness than because of the used up nutrients in the substrate - even with regular fertilization the substrate will eventually run out. In the new pot, you can again fill a fresh soil mixture with organic slow-release fertilizer such as compost and manure.

But be extremely careful with the fleshy roots when repotting - the Strelizia does not tolerate damage to the base well.

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Pour Strelizie

You should give the Strelitzia regular, but moderate watering. The root ball should not dry out, this can lead to leaf shedding. But waterlogging is even more damaging - in the long run the roots can start to rot. So always make sure that the root ball is reasonably dry before the next watering.

Cut Strelizie properly

The Strelitzia does not need great pruning. To keep it healthy and vital, it is sufficient to regularly remove the dried up, old leaves. This way it gets enough light and air again for fresh development.

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Brown leaves

Brown leaves are not always just old and therefore cut out. They can also be an indication of care errors - but not to a specific disease or pest infestation. Usually the reasons for brown Strelitzia leaves are rather harmless.

Possible reasons are:

  • Drafts
  • too dry or too wet substrate
  • Overfertilization
  • sunburn

One reason could be drafts, for example. They don't like Strelitzia at all and can react accordingly sensitively. So make sure that the air environment is as calm as possible.

A substrate that is too dry or too wet can be a bit more critical. Regular waterlogging can lead to root rot, which naturally affects the plant. If in doubt, repotting is necessary.

You should not over-fertilize the Strelitzia either - it can react to this with brown leaves.

Brown leaves can also be simply burned leaves - especially if the Strelitzia is suddenly put in the sun after wintering, it can suffer from sunburn.

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In general, the Strelitzia is a pleasantly uncomplicated plant when it comes to diseases and pests. If she shows health problems, this is usually limited and has no really life-threatening or uncorrectable reasons. What can affect her in general is above all the following:

  • Waterlogging - possibly Septoria fungus
  • dry, drafty room air
  • Spider mites
  • Scale insects

If the Strelitzia is exposed to waterlogging too often, the roots can rot and lead to brown leaves, as I said. In the worst, but rather rare, case, an infestation of the Septoria fungus can follow. Then you need to remove the infected, yellowish-brownish discolored leaves and, if necessary, apply a fungicide.

In dry, drafty indoor air, the Strelitzia usually complains with a brown color of the leaves. If so, move them around if possible.

However, spider mite infestation can also be caused by dry room air. The best way to control spider mites is to spray and wrap the plant under foil. As a result, the pests usually die within a week.

Scale insects ensure a brownish discoloration of the leaf stalks and subsequent leaf shedding. You should first collect the annoying parasites as thoroughly as possible and then spray the plant with a water-oil solution. It lets the scale insects suffocate. The

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Increase Strelizie

Since the Strelitzia forms a clumpy rhizome root network, the method of dividing is best suited for its reproduction. To do this, take the plant out of its pot in spring and cut off part of the root ball, including the associated above-ground part of the plant, from the mother plant. Put this in its own pot with a nutrient-rich, well-drained substrate. Before this, the roots should be dusted with charcoal powder - this prevents root rot.

You should not initially place the separated young plant in full sun. Water regularly, but in any case avoid waterlogging. After about 5 weeks you can transplant the young Strelitzia into a new pot and continue cultivating it as usual.

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As mentioned in several of the previous sections, the Strelitzia does not tolerate dry indoor air, protests with brown leaves and is more susceptible to scale insect infestation. You should therefore guarantee her a permanently high level of humidity. So that you do not have to constantly actively humidify the air during cultivation in the living area, simply select the right room: the kitchen or bathroom is usually more humid than in the living room or bedroom. In addition, the exotic Strelitzia flower can create an attractive oasis atmosphere, especially in the bathroom!


The variety spectrum of the genus Strelitzia is manageable. There are exactly 5 types:

King's Strelitzia (Strelitzia reginae)

It is probably the most beautiful and best known among the Strelitzia species. This is where its royal name comes from. But it is also called the bird of paradise flower because of its particularly magnificent, large flower, whose ray structure is reminiscent of a long beak and a comb-like plume. The bloom is bright orange with dark blue accents on the lower bracts for about 4 weeks between December and May. As a stemless Strelitzia species, it only grows to about 2 meters.

Rush Strelitzia (Strelitzia juncea)

With its long, grass-like, needle-shaped, almost spiderless leaf fronds, the rush strelitzia is probably the most unusual species among the strelitzia and is particularly suitable for grass lovers in terms of appearance. In addition to the King's Strelitzia, it is the second trunkless species and can be cultivated well in the room. It is also only about 2 meters tall. Its flowers are also very similar to those of the King's Strelitzia. However, they appear much later in the year, between May and October.

White Strelitzia (Strelitzia alba)

Its name suggests that this species of Strelitzia delights with white flowers. Like the orange ones, these also have blue accents in the lower part of the petals, but mostly in a much lighter shade. The flowers appear between May and June. The White Strelitzia is one of the three stem-forming, tree-like growing varieties. It can be up to 10 meters high and is therefore less suitable for home cultivation, but rather only for large greenhouses.

Tree Strelitzia (Strelitzia nicolai)

With the tree Strelitzia we come to the second trunk-forming Strelitzia species. With a maximum height of 12 meters, it is the largest of all, and its palm-like leaf fronds are particularly large. It goes without saying that it is also unsuitable for indoor cultivation in pots. In our latitudes it produces its mostly white-blue flowers when cultivated in a greenhouse between April and July; in the wild in southern climes it can be grown all year round over bloom.

Mountain Strelitzia (Strelitzia caudata)

With a still moderate growth height of up to 6 meters, this is the smallest trunk-forming Strelitzia species that can also be kept in a high, private winter garden. Their flowers appear in this country mostly in the spring and early summer months and are noticeable for their deep blue, rarely white bracts.