5 Best Bird of Paradise Varieties to Grow

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The “Bird of Paradise” is a common name that is actually applied to two genus of plants with many different plant species. 

Both plant genus have unique and exotic flowers, including one genus with flowers that look like the head and crown of flowers.

This article will cover popular bird of paradise varieties and their uniqueness. 

Bird of Paradise Overview

There are many different plant species of birds of paradise, but they’re all known by the same common name.

Two entirely different plant genera share the same common name, and that’s about the only thing they have in common.

There are two types of bird of paradise plants:

  • Strelitzia Genus – A relative of the banana plant that is a low-growing tropical jungle plant with unique exotic flowers. The is the more popular type that’s also known as the “Florist’s Flower.” 
  • Caesalpinia Genus – A member of the pea family and a thorny shrub or tree that prefers desert environments.
Bird of Paradise Varieties

Strelitzia vs Caesalpinia Bird of Paradise Plants

The Strelitzia genus of plants is the more popular and widely distributed bird of paradise plants than the Caesalpinia genus, because of their exotic and beautiful flowers. 

The strelitzia genus is native to the warm and humid areas of South Africa. They’re often grown as houseplants or as outdoor perennials when in USDA zones 9-11. 

The caesalpinia genus looks entirely different and contains evergreen trees and shrubs with broad leaves. These are generally native to deserts and dry climates.

When growing outdoors, it can do well in part shade, but when growing indoors as houseplants, they need as much bright light as possible. A sunny window is best, but if there’s no direct sunlight, artificial lights can also work. 

Avoid cold drafts and keep temperatures above 50° Fahrenheit. 

Let’s take a look at these popular bird of paradise plant varieties from the two different plant genera. 

Bird of Paradise Varieties

1. Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae)

Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae)

Also known as the Crane Flower or Orange Bird of Paradise for its unique orange sepals and blue petals, this orange variety has long leathery leaves, similar to the banana tree. 

The bird of paradise leaves sprout from the ground in stiff clumps. Flowers grow out of the rigid stalks. 

This variety looks like an exotic bird when it blooms. The flowers can grow up to 25 times per year throughout the growing season. 

  • Native Habitat: South Africa
  • Height: 5 to 6 feet (60–72 inches)
  • Sun: Full sunlight to partial shade
  • USDA Growing Zones: 10–12 

Learn more in this in-depth Bird of Paradise Care Guide.

2. White Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia nicolai) 

The White Bird of Paradise is one of the larger species in the Strelitzia genus.

The flowers are similar to the traditional orange bird of paradise plant, except it has white sepals that form the crown and has a bluish-purple tongue. 

The large, grayish-green leaves are similar to its relative, the banana tree. 

  • Native Habitat: South Africa
  • Height: Up to 20 feet; up to 7 feet as a houseplant
  • Sun: Full sunlight to partial shade
  • USDA Growing Zones: 9–11; often grown as a houseplant

Read more in this in-depth White Bird of Paradise Care Guide.

3. Mexican Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia mexicana)

Plants of the Caesalpinia genus that carry the common name “bird of paradise” are very different from the Strelitzia species.

The Mexican Bird of Paradise is a broad-leaved evergreen tree that blooms in yellow flower clusters similar to azaleas. The seed pods and leaf shapes are similar to those in the legume family. 

It blooms repeatedly with clusters of yellow flowers that resemble azaleas, and the leaf shape and seed pods make its membership in the legume family obvious.

This flower will remain evergreen with temperatures down to 15 degrees.

  • Native Habitat: Northern Mexico
  • Height: 15–25 feet
  • Sun: Full sunlight
  • USDA Growing Zones: 8–11

Learn more in this in-depth Mexican Bird of Paradise Care Guide.

4. Red Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia pulcherrima)

Closely related and similar to the Mexican Bird of Paradise, the Red Bird of Paradise is also known as the Pride of Barbados or Peacock Flower. 

The red bird of paradise is native to dry regions and is a broad-leaved evergreen shrub. It’s a fast-grower and blooms many times with its red-orange flowers. It can be grown as a barrier plant with its prickly stems. 

The flowers on this plant and other Caesalpinia species are smaller than the Strelitzia plants. The blooms are similar to azaleas because they grow in clusters. 

This plant prefers arid climates and desert environments. Their leaf shapes and arrangement resemble those of other plants in the pea family (legumes). 

  • Native Habitat: Arid regions of tropical Americas
  • Height: 10–20 feet
  • Sun: Full sunlight
  • USDA Growing Zones: 9–11

Read more in this in-depth Red Bird of Paradise Care Guide.

5. Yellow Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia gilliesii)

The Yellow Bird of Paradise is also known as the Poisiana or Bird of Paradise Bush. This plant is one of the more shrubbier Caesalpinia plants, which is evergreen when in warm climates. 

Its azalea-like flowers are red or yellow and typically bloom in July and August. It has fernlike leaves like other legume family plant leaves. 

The yellow bird of paradise plant can self-seed easily because the seeds will be expelled out when the pods dry. The seeds will escape and grow in the surrounding areas.

  • Native Habitat: Argentina and Uruguay
  • Height: 7–10 feet
  • Sun: Full sun 
  • USDA Growing Zones: 9–11

Learn more in this in-depth Yellow Bird of Paradise Care Guide.

Bird of Paradise Varieties Final Thoughts

These five varieties of bird of paradise plants are great that you should consider growing at home. 

If you want to try your hand at growing these exotic plants, then you need to have some knowledge about them first. You must know their growth habits, how they perform best indoors, and what kind of light conditions they prefer.

Here are other bird of paradise articles you might be interested in:

Bird of Paradise Varieties FAQs

How many types of bird of paradise are there?

There are over 76 different types of birds of paradise varieties out there. The Strelitzia genus only has 6 recognized species, while the Caesalpinia genus has over 70 plant species. 

Which bird of paradise is the best?

All the bird of paradise plants are amazing flowering plants that you should definitely grow if you’re interested in exotic plants. They all offer unique features that set them apart from each other. Each variety offers something different for you to choose from. However, the Orange Bird of Paradise is my favorite because it grows well in most indoor lighting conditions and also has beautiful bright orange flowers.

Which bird of paradise is more rare?

The Strelitzia alba variety of the White Bird of Paradise is considered to be the rarest type of bird of paradise. The Strelitzia nicolai variety of the White Bird of Paradise is the most common type that’s cultivated.

How do I identify a bird of paradise?

You can tell if a plant is a bird of paradise by looking at the flower shape and their resemblance to birds. The flower base would be shaped like a canoe or boat, and the sepals and petals make up a crane bird’s beak.

What kinds of lights does a bird of paradise need?

A bird of paradise prefers full sunlight. If you don’t provide enough light, then the plant may not grow properly or may not flower. There are some varieties of bird of paradise in the Caesalpinia genus that can live in partial shade, but the majority of plant species need plenty of full, direct sunlight. 

Is there a miniature bird of paradise plant?

The Dwarf Orange Bird of Paradise is a popular miniature bird of paradise plant that will grow to about 30 inches tall when grown indoors. This herbaceous evergreen tropical plant grows slowly and can have a spread of up to 24 inches. 

Does a bird of paradise need full sun?

The bird of paradise plant needs full sun exposure. Some varieties can tolerate partial shade. If you place the plant in an area where there is no sunlight, then the leaves will turn brown and die off. Give it plenty of direct sunlight for the most flowers and the best growth.

Do all bird of paradise plants bloom?

As long as the bird of paradise plants get proper care, the plants will bloom. You need to be patient with them though, as they will usually take 3 to 4 years before they start to bloom for the first time. After that, most varieties of bird of paradise will continue to flower until frost hits. Once the weather gets cold, the plants will stop producing new buds and the old ones will dry out.

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Written by:

Amy Walsh
I love to grow houseplants and herbs at home! Growing plants has always been a hobby of mine, but it turned into an obsession when I moved out on my own. My apartment is now full of shelves of various plants and stacks of pots waiting for new life. It’s not uncommon to find me checking out the latest indoor plant trends online.

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