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Container Bird Of Paradise Plants

Q.Growing “Bird of Paradise” plants

Zone Ireland | Owen Murphy added on September 12, 2012 | Answered

I have two plants, which I bought in Amsterdam in the Spring of 2011. They are planted in 12 inch terracotta pots in my glasshouse, in Skerries Ireland. Our garden is only one mile from the sea and we are surrounded by the sea on three sides. The plants were potted in good potting compost, and the drainage hole was covered with shards of pottery. The potting compost is covered with a layer of grit to keep the moisture in.

The plants do not seem to be thriving,  and I am wondering if they are in too large of pots? I have just made up a large quantity of fine, well rotted garden compost mixed with equal parts of potting compost and coarse grit. Should I re-pot the plants in smaller plants? They remain in my glasshouse all the time, and in winter are protected with garden fleece. What am I doing wrong??

Many thanks,

Owen Morrissy-Murphy

A.Answers to this queston: Add Answer
Certified GKH Gardening Expert
Answered on September 28, 2012

They may be too dry as you suspect. Terracotta may be contributing, but that would be a minor reason. The soil may just getting too dry overall between waterings that is making the soil repel the water rather than soaking it up as it should. Potting soil can do this sometimes, start to repel water if it gets too dry. You may want to consider soaking the pots or very deeply watering once a month or so to make sure the soil is properly hydrated.

I would personally put them out in the warm months. Many exotic plants, such as bird of paradise, enjoy the sun and humidity of the summer in more moderate areas. Just make sure that you acclimate them when taking them out and when bringing them back in. This article will explain more about that:

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Certified GKH Gardening Expert
Answered on September 23, 2012

It is hard to say what might be wrong without knowing how they are failing. Are you seeing any yellowing or spotting? Is the growth stunted or leggy? What else are they doing that indicates they are not thriving? Let me know and this will help me diagnose what the issue may be.

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Owen Murphy
Answered on September 24, 2012

Thank you Heather for your response,

To answer your questions, yes the plants are stunted, and there is
some yellowing of the leaves.

I wonder if the fact that they are in heavy terracotta pots, rather
than plastic pots, and are therefore drying out too often and too
quickly, and the fact that they are in a glasshouse all the time might
add to this problem.

I am contemplating of taking them out of their current pots and
putting them in smaller pots, 9" probably. Should I consider using
eracasous (?) compost.

Also as the ambient temperature in Ireland is temperate, 20 degrees
summer; 10 degree in winter, very infrequent frosts, should I move the
pots out from our Spring to the Fall?

Thanking you.

Owen Morrissy-Murphy

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