As you may know, Strelitzia Reginae (Bird of Paradise) is one of my favourite plants. A good few years ago, I sowed a whole bunch of seeds, out of which only one germinated. This lonely, vulnerable seedling was nursed through repeated black fly infestations, protected from freezing winters and sheltered from withering sun as it struggled to survive and grow.
But survive and grow it did and years later, I would say that the original seedling has now moved out of the toddler years and into young kiddie years:
Among the mass of all the other patio pot plants, the Strelitzia is the large-leaved tropical looking thing in the foreground.
It has grown two whole new leaves this year, each one bigger than the last. The latest leaf still is not adult sized yet (they’re much bigger) so there is still a lot of growing to do. I can’t really be sure when it will flower, perhaps 2015? 2016? as a lot of bad weather is due between now and then. Although this plant really isn’t earning its keep on the patio, it requires such little maintenance now that I don’t mind. It gets watered along with the rest of the patio pots and beyond that there’s nothing else that needs doing to it. That’s a far cry from when it was a tiny seedling on life-support and I was checking on it almost daily, pandering to its needs and trying to keep it alive.
I have several long-term seedlings and plants like these so I am used to timescales of several years as opposed to just one or two (or even same-season). I believe I am at the halfway point with the Strelitzia. The secret is that it doesn’t take a lot of care or attention, it just sits there and I may take a slight-longer-than-normal glance at it every few weeks but other than that, it’s out of mind.
The next time the Strelitzia will get any real attention is when it has to come in for the winter and so I count another year down, that’s one year less until it sends up that first magical flower spike that represents the culmination of all the work and care since I bought the original seed packet. Until then, I’m content to let it sit on the patio, slowly growing away, as it has done ever since it germinated three or four years ago.