The Complete Guide to Bird of Paradise Growth Rates

The bird of paradise plant is iconic for its vivid, tropical blossoms that resemble an exotic bird. With its dramatic foliage and bold architectural form, it’s a popular choice indoors and outside in warm climates. But beyond its ornate appearance, gardeners are often curious about the bird of paradise’s growth pattern. How fast does this captivating plant reach maturity? And what is its maximum potential size under optimal conditions?

This in-depth guide provides a comprehensive look at bird of paradise growth rates during every stage, from germination to the fully grown plant. We’ll cover how factors like climate, care, and genetics impact the speed of growth. You’ll also learn expert techniques for maximizing size and encouraging your bird of paradise to grow to its full potential. Let’s take flight into the specifics of cultivating these iconic beauties!

Bird of Paradise Varieties

There are several species and cultivars of bird of paradise to choose from, each with slightly different growth habits.

The most popular type grown is the orange bird of paradise, Strelitzia reginae. This variety features brilliant orange and blue blooms. It reaches a moderate size of 3-4 feet tall and wide at maturity.

The giant bird of paradise, S. nicolai, is the largest species. Its white flowers bloom on blue-gray foliage. It can reach impressive dimensions of up to 20 feet tall in tropical climates.

Strelitzia juncea is a narrow-leaf variety. Its leaves are blue-green and its flowers are primarily white. It grows to about 4-5 feet tall.

Hybrid bird of paradise cultivars have also been bred, such as the dwarf ‘Petite Bird’ and the cold-hardy ‘Hardy Bird’. Growth habits can vary.

When researching expected sizes, be sure to note the specific variety. The information below pertains primarily to the common orange S. reginae unless otherwise specified.

Native Region and Ideal Growing Conditions

Bird of paradise plants are native to South Africa. They thrive in the warm, humid subtropical and tropical climates found there.

Recreating similar growing conditions is key to maximizing bird of paradise growth potential. Ideal conditions include:

  • Temperatures between 65-75°F. They can tolerate short drops to 50°F.
  • Moderate to high humidity – at least 50-60% humidity is preferred.
  • Bright, indirect sunlight for at least 6 hours per day. Direct hot sun will scorch leaves.
  • Well-draining, slightly acidic soil with lots of organic matter.

Meeting these basic needs provides the best environment for bird of paradise to grow vigorously. Insufficient light and low humidity are common causes of slow growth.

Getting Started from Seeds

Growing bird of paradise from seed provides a more affordable option than purchasing starter plants. It also allows you to witness the entire growth timeline from juvenile to maturity.

To start seeds, sow them in spring indoors in pots or seed trays. Use a well-draining starting mix and maintain warm temperatures between 70-80°F.

Germination generally occurs within 3-4 weeks. Once sprouted, seedlings grow rapidly in their first year. With proper care, they can gain over 12 inches in height in a single year!

Transition seedlings outdoors once nighttime temperatures are above 50°F. Select a location with partial shade or dappled sunlight.

Provide ample water, fertilizer, and humidity for the best growth. Protect young plants from cold snaps.

By propagating from seed, you’ll gain an intimate look at bird of paradise’s quick pace of growth in the juvenile stage.

Growth Rate of Young Plants

In the young plant stage, also known as the juvenile phase, bird of paradise growth occurs rapidly if cared for correctly.

From a seedling, expect plants to reach 12-24 inches in height in the first year. In the second year, they typically achieve 2-3 feet of growth.

Plants grown from starts or divisions follow a similar brisk pace. A plant that is 1-2 feet tall when purchased may reach 3 feet in the second year after planting.

During this adolescent period of development, leaves and stems are the main focus of growth. Lush, bright green foliage fills out quickly.

With the right conditions, bird of paradise can grow up to 3 feet per year until they near their maximum size. Consistent moisture, nutrition, light, and warmth are imperative to fuel this speedy growth.

After 2-4 years, growth begins to steady and slow as plants enter maturity. But the teenage stage is characterized by exceptionally vigorous growth.

Growth Habits of Mature Plants

As a bird of paradise plant reaches maturity, its growth habits start to shift. The rapid vegetative expansion slows down. At this life stage, the plant focuses energy on flowering rather than gaining size.

In the adult phase, mature bird of paradise will increase in height and width at a more conservative, gradual pace. Expect 12-18 inches of growth per year once established.

Leaves will continue to slowly unfurl from the center stalk. But flowering takes priority for the plant’s energy expenditure.

Mature plants may take several years after planting to reach their maximum potential dimensions. But consistent care helps them slowly achieve impressive proportions at their full size.

Eventually, vertical growth will cease once the plant hits its genetic height capacity. But some lateral widening can continue spreading the plant’s wingspan wider.

The adult bird of paradise may be less exuberant than its youthful stage, but it still retains a stately elegance.

Typical Maximum Size and Dimensions

Given proper growing conditions, bird of paradise can grow quite large and make a dramatic statement in the garden.

Height – The orange variety typically reaches 4-6 feet tall at full size. But it can potentially grow up to 10-15 feet tall in very optimal tropical environments.

The giant white variety is aptly named, as it can tower to a staggering 15-20 feet tall at maturity.

Width – Birds of paradise can spread out horizontally as well, reaching a mature width of 4-6 feet or more. Their prominent, upright leaves give them a broad wingspan.

Leaves – The leaves elegantly perch atop slender stalks, extending outwards and upwards. Leaves can grow up to 2 feet long on a mature plant.

With its tall, spreading habit, bird of paradise becomes a focal point of landscapes and makes a bold statement in any setting.

Growth Rate by Geographic Location

A bird of paradise plant’s growth rate can vary based on the climatic conditions where it is grown. Those in optimal tropical environments will reach maturity faster than those in marginal climates.

Tropical and Subtropical Climates

In frost-free regions with ample moisture and heat, bird of paradise can grow over 3 feet per year and attain full size within 5 years. These include USDA zones 10-11 and warm microclimates.

Warm Temperate Climates

In zones 9 and 8, with mild winters and hot summers, mature height can be reached in 7-10 years with proper care. Expect 1-2 feet of growth per year.

Cool Temperate Climates

In marginal climates like zone 7 or inland zone 8, growth will be slower. Colder winters may set plants back. It may take up to 15 years to fully mature.

If possible, provide microclimate protection to boost growth rates in cooler zones. Potted plants can be overwintered indoors.

Troubleshooting Slow Growth

If your bird of paradise plant is growing slower than expected, there are ways to troubleshoot and spur faster growth.

  • Improve growing conditions – Evaluate sunlight, temperature, humidity, and soil conditions. Make adjustments as needed.
  • Propagate from pups – Mature plants produce pups or offshoots. These can be separated and propagated for more vigorous juveniles.
  • Fertilize regularly – Apply a balanced fertilizer every 2-3 months during the growing season.
  • Prune strategically – Pruning outer leaves keeps the plant compact and full. Remove dead leaves and spent blooms.
  • Rule out pests/disease – Check for signs of problems and treat accordingly. Healthy plants grow better.
  • Be patient – Growth naturally slows with age. Focus on optimal care and allow time to reach maturity.

With some attentive troubleshooting and care, you can get a languishing bird of paradise back on track to fuller, healthier growth.

Caring for Bird of Paradise to Maximize Growth

Bird of paradise requires some specific care strategies to support its growth habit. By providing ideal growing conditions, you enable the plant to reach its full potential size.


  • Water regularly to keep soil consistently moist but not soaked. Allow the top few inches to dry between waterings.
  • Increase watering frequency in summer heat. Decrease in winter.
  • Humidity is also important! Mist leaves or use a pebble tray.

Light Requirements

  • Bright, indirect light keeps birds of paradise growing strong.
  • At least 6 hours of sun is best. Avoid direct hot afternoon sun.
  • Turn the plant periodically for even exposure.


  • Use a balanced fertilizer every 8-12 weeks in the growing season.
  • Slow release spikes can provide a steady nutrient supply.


  • Repot in spring every 2-3 years as needed.
  • Move to a slightly larger pot with fresh potting mix.


  • Prune out dead leaves or spent blooms.
  • Can prune outer leaves to shape plant as desired.

Pest and Disease Prevention

  • Watch for aphids, mealybugs, mites, and scale. Treat promptly.
  • Diseases are rare with proper care and conditions.

Achieving Fuller Growth

In addition to proper care, there are some extra techniques to maximize bird of paradise’s growth habit for a fuller, more dramatic look:

  • Encourage bushiness – Prune for a full, compact shape. Pinch back new shoots.
  • Stake large leaves – Staking keeps leaves upright so they don’t flop or become damaged.
  • Use plant food spikes – Slow release spikes provide steady fertilization for lush growth.
  • Grow in a large container – Choosing too small of a pot restricts root and plant size.
  • Provide ideal conditions – Heat, humidity, light, and nutrients allow maximum growth.
  • Propagate from divisions – Dividing mature plants yields vigorous new offshoots.

With the right tools and techniques, you can coax a bird of paradise plant to grow into an imposing, floriferous specimen that transforms any space.

Here is the next section:

Timeline for Flowers and Blooms

One of the most anticipated aspects of growing bird of paradise is seeing its stunning blooms. But it takes patience and maturity to coax these plants into flowering.

  • Plants grown from seed take 3-5 years to flower. Those started from large divisions may flower sooner.
  • The flowering season is mainly late winter through summer. But flowers can occur year-round in peak conditions.
  • Each flower stalk produces multiple bloom sets over a period of weeks before dying back.
  • If no flowers appear, increase light exposure, provide adequate nutrition, and allow more time to mature.
  • Deadhead spent blooms to encourage more flowers.

The wait is well worth it when vibrant orange and blue blossoms finally emerge! Expect flowers to arrive once your plant is well-established and comfortable in its environment.

Factors that Impact Growth Rate

Bird of paradise growth rates can fluctuate based on several key factors:

Age of the Plant

  • Young plants grow rapidly. Rate slows with maturity.
  • Seedlings establish quickest, followed bydivisions. Mature plants are slowest.

Health and Vigor

  • Optimal conditions and care lead to vigorous growth.
  • Stressed plants grow slower.


  • Hybrid and dwarf cultivars tend to grow slower.
  • Species like S. nicolai grow taller than standard S. reginae.

Climate Suitability

  • Those in optimal climates will size up faster.
  • Cool winters and dry heat retard growth.

Understanding these dynamics helps predict your plant’s habits. Favorable genetics, ideal climate, and proper care stack the deck for speedy growth.

Growth Rate Comparison of Varieties

To recap, different bird of paradise varieties have slightly different growth rate profiles:

  • Strelitzia reginae – The orange standard grows 3-4 feet tall at a moderate pace.
  • S. nicolai – The giant white variety is fastest growing, up to 20 feet tall.
  • S. juncea – Narrow leaf type grows 4-5 feet tall at a steady rate.
  • Dwarf hybrids like ‘Petite’ have slowed growth, only reaching about 3 feet.
  • Cold tolerant hybrids like ‘Hardy’ establish slower but still reach 6 feet.
  • Seedlings tend to outpace mature divisions and plants.

Knowing the natural habits and rate of increase of your particular variety helps predict the timeline to maturity.

Maximum Recorded Size Under Optimal Conditions

To showcase just how large bird of paradise can grow given ample time and ideal conditions, here are some record sizes:

  • The tallest orange S. reginae on record reached 15 feet in height, grown outdoors in Hawaii.
  • A giant S. nicolai in San Diego grew to a staggering 36 feet tall at last measurement.
  • The S. nicolai variety ‘Tower’ was measured at over 40 feet tall when grown in a greenhouse setting.
  • A 200 year old specimen in South Africa spread to 20 feet wide, with leaves over 7 feet long.

While these are extreme examples, it illustrates that with perfect climate, care, genetics, and decades to establish, bird of paradise can achieve truly tremendous proportions.

More typically, carefully cultivated garden plants reach mature sizes of 6-10 feet tall for orange types, and 15-25 feet for giant white varieties. But the ceiling is high for these iconic beauties!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is bird of paradise easy to grow?

Bird of paradise is not the most beginner-friendly plant, but it can thrive if given warm temperatures, abundant light, and adequate humidity. Establishing good care habits makes it less challenging.

Where do birds of paradise grow best?

Bird of paradise does best in tropical, subtropical, and warm temperate climates ranging from USDA zones 8-11. Frost-free areas provide ideal conditions.

How tall does bird of paradise grow?

The standard orange bird of paradise grows 4-6 feet tall on average. But under optimal conditions it can reach up to 15 feet tall at maturity. The giant white variety grows even taller, to 20 feet or more.

Does bird of paradise need full sun?

Bird of paradise requires bright, indirect light for at least 6 hours per day but should be protected from hot, direct midday sun. Morning or afternoon sun is best.

Let me know if you would like me to add any other frequently asked questions!


Bird of paradise is a captivating plant known for its unique flower and bold tropical style. With its substantial size and structural presence, it makes a dramatic living sculpture in the garden or patio.

This guide covers the nuances of bird of paradise growth rates during all life stages. While individual factors cause variability, you can expect:

  • Rapid vertical growth up to 3 feet per year for juveniles.
  • Slower, steady increases of 1-2 feet per year once mature.
  • Maximum heights around 4-6 feet tall for standard orange varieties.
  • Potential for 15-20+ feet tall under ideal conditions.
  • Maximum width around 4-6 feet but can be wider.

No matter its pace of growth, a bird of paradise’s exotic blooms and architectural foliage make it a stunning addition to tropical gardens. With proper positioning and care to encourage healthy expansion, it can fill its space and flourish elegantly.

As an author and indoor plants enthusiast, I have always been fascinated by the natural world and the beauty of plant life. Growing up, I spent much of my time outdoors, exploring the forests and gardens in my hometown and learning about the various plant species that inhabit them.

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