Ask Ella: Bird-of-Paradise, For A No-Fuss Bouquet
Ask Ella is a recurring Garden Collage feature where we ask our in-house florist, Ella Stavonsky, about the history of, origin, and maintenance that goes into some of the most intriguing flowers on the market today. This column is dedicated exclusively to common and rare varieties of flowers you’re likely to find at your local market. This week, we spotlight Bird-of-paradise, a complicated-looking flower that’s surprisingly easy to care for.
There is nothing quite like the bird-of-paradise. It is a flower that is easily recognized, with its contrasting orange petals, blue sepals, and sharp, pointed bract (the portion which runs along the bottom). Native to South Africa (where it is known as the crane flower), the bird-of-paradise can grow to be up to six feet tall. While the bird-of-paradise cannot tolerate a cool climate, it can resist a salty breeze, and does well in warm, coastal cities. They are a relatively common ornamental that adds an intense, extravagant flare to the garden. Often, the cut bird-of-paradise is given as a ninth anniversary gift, and connotes optimism and freedom as a result of its aviary associations.
Bird-of-paradise are a relatively straightforward flower to care for, and once cut, they can last up to two weeks, making them an ideal plant to start with for those new to floral arranging or for those looking to craft a no-muss bouquet. Bird-of-paradise should be kept in cold, fresh water (which should be changed daily) with flower food. It’s best to buy a bird-of-paradise that is still slightly closed, as this means it is likely younger. When you arrive home, you can very gently pry the flower open using your fingers. Stage several bird-of-paradise together or mix one in with other vivid flowers to create a stunning but easy arrangement.