The Yellow Bird of Paradise is a popular evergreen shrub with beautiful yellow flowers.
Yellow Bird of Paradise Overview
This striking plant is an evergreen shrub or small tree that’s botanically known as the Caesalpinia gilliesii, a member of the Fabaceae or Legume family. It’s native to the subtropical regions found in South America, principally Argentina and Uruguay, where it is cultivated as a shrub or small tree.
This plant is also referred to as the Bird of Paradise Bush, the Yellow Bird of Paradise, the Desert Bird of Paradise, and the Barba de Chivo.
Often confused with the Orange Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae), the Yellow Bird of Paradise variety is a separate plant and not related to the Strelitzia genus. Its lovely tropical flowers are characteristically yellow with red stamen.
Because of its love of warm weather, this variety is often seen in the warmer states of the U.S. including the southern states, as well as the western areas of Oklahoma, Nevada, and California. It can grow to a height of six to ten feet and spread to a width of three to eight feet.
Yellow Bird of Paradise blossoms feature five yellow petals and ten vividly red stamens. Flowers bloom at the end of branch tips during the months of July and August.
Flowers measure only about an inch in length, but the showy red stamens will be three to four times longer and protrude out of the blossom’s tubular shape.
This shrub also produces fruit that resembles the pods of peas as they are flat and curved, measuring two to five inches long. They are densely covered in reddish, glandular short hairs.
Once pods mature, they open and spew seeds far and wide, so they can be an invasive species.
Yellow Bird of Paradise Care Guide
Generally integrated into gardens and yards as hedges or natural screens around properties or used in streets, public squares, and parks for landscaping.
Soil for the Yellow Bird of Paradise
The soil bed for the Yellow Bird of Paradise plant should be loamy or sandy because it needs well-drained soil. They do not do well in heavy clay soils because they do not drain. Loamy clay soil is a good option.
The soil pH should measure between 5.5 and 6.5 for best results.
Light for the Yellow Bird of Paradise
The Yellow Bird of Paradise prefers full sunlight exposure. However, it can manage with partial shade. This plant should have at least six full hours of sunlight daily.
With less sunlight, this shrub will produce fewer or no blossoms.
Water and Humidity for the Yellow Bird of Paradise
A weekly watering once the Yellow Bird of Paradise establishes itself in the soil bed, will be sufficient. This is a hardy plant and drought tolerant.
When first planted, the soil should be kept consistently moist. Make sure to water deeply when the plant is producing flowers for the entire blooming period.
Temperature for the Yellow Bird of Paradise
The climate is important to growing the Yellow Bird of Paradise plant. This plant only thrives in warm regions such as USDA hardiness zones 8 through 11.
The Mediterranean climate is ideal with warm to hot temperatures, 60° to 80° Fahrenheit is optimal. When temperatures drop to freezing or 32°F, the plant will enter dormancy, reawakening with a rise in the temperatures.
Fertilizer for the Yellow Bird of Paradise
Yellow Bird of Paradise shrubs can benefit from annual fertilization once they are established, especially during the blooming period.
You can do a soil test to verify if specific nutrients are missing in the soil bed. When feeding, use a standard balanced NPK fertilizer 20-20-20 (nitrogen-phosphorous-potassium).
If you use a fertilizer high in nitrogen, it will encourage green foliage growth, but at the expense of blooms.
Learn more about different types of fertilizers.
Pruning the Yellow Bird of Paradise
Pruning is useful for your shrub or tree to maintain its shape and to encourage fuller, bushier growth. To shape your shrub, prune in the spring at the start of the plant’s growing season. Trim off half of the shoots and older branches.
At the beginning of winter, it can be cut back as much as a third.
Propagating the Yellow Bird of Paradise
The yellow variety can be propagated with soft wood stem cuttings, but is most often propagated in the spring through sowing seeds. The plant also self-sows when their seed pods open and drop seeds everywhere.
Learn more about How to Propagate Bird of Paradise Plants.
Propagating by Seed
Here are the step-by-step instructions on how to propagate and grow the Yellow Bird of Paradise from seed:
- Gather plant seeds in autumn from an established plant or acquire them for a garden center or nursery.
- Place gathered seeds in the sun to dry. Once dried, place them in a sealed glass container and store them in a refrigerator.
- Six weeks before your area’s final predicted frost, take the seeds out of the fridge and make a small cut or nick the seed coats.
- Seeds should then be soaked in warm water for 24 hours. Dispose of any seeds that have not sunk to the bottom of the bowl.
- Prepare a pot or container with an adequate number of drainage holes and fill it with one part of seed starter growing medium and one part perlite
- Seeds should be placed one-half-inch deep in the seed starter tray and positioned two inches apart. Water lightly.
- Cover the seed starter tray with plastic. Position it in a location that is warm with a temperature of 75°F to assist in germination.
- Keep the growing medium consistently moist, but not waterlogged.
- In one to four weeks, germination should be apparent. Remove the plastic covering and place it in a window with full sun or similar, or under a grow lamp.
- When the seedlings develop at least four leaves, transplant each into an individual container. Preferably, a peat container that can then be planted directly into your garden bed without further disturbance to the root system.
- Once the final frost has passed, place your plants outdoors for several hours per day to harden them, gradually increasing the time outdoors a bit every day. When the outdoor exposure increases to at least six hours, transplant them into your garden bed.
Propagating with Soft Wood Cuttings
To propagate the Yellow Bird of Paradise plants with soft wood cuttings, follow these steps:
- During the summer, cut six-inch sections of green branches that are still pliable. Use sterilized garden shears.
- Fill pots with coarse sand that is kept consistently moist. Dip the tip of each soft wood cutting in rooting hormone and place it into the pot with sand.
- Cover each pot with loose plastic bags. Fix the bottom of the plastic with a rubber band or tie it around the container.
- Place the containers in bright indirect sunlight in a warm location.
- New roots should form on your cuttings in about a month. Tug gently to verify this. If you feel a bit of resistance, the root system is developing.
- Once the new roots are formed, remove the plastic coverings and continue caring until moving to a permanent pot or placing in the outdoor garden.
Yellow Bird of Paradise Toxicity and Pets
According to the ASPCA – American Society for the prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Yellow Bird of Paradise is toxic to cats and dogs and is more toxic than the Strelitzia reginae. Rabbits can be especially vulnerable with death being reported after ingestion.
Ingestion can cause the following symptoms:
- Burning of the mouth, tongue, and lips
- Coordination problems
- Mild nausea
- Oral irritation
- Swallowing difficulty
In case of ingestion, contact your veterinarian or local poison authority immediately.
Yellow Bird of Paradise Pests, Diseases, and Problems
This shrub variety is basically pest free and resistant to diseases. It is also deer resistant.
One common issue that you might see is the Bird of Paradise leaves curling, mostly due to underwatering and improper care.
Yellow Bird of Paradise Final Thoughts
Fern-like, airy leaves and exotic blooms make this a stunning outdoor ornamental plant for any garden, either as a hedge or specimen plant.
Delicate in appearance, but incredibly resilient as a garden plant. The Yellow Bird of Paradise can withstand full sun exposure, nutrient-poor soil, and drought and still gift its lovely yellow-hued blooms to brighten the landscape.
Here are other bird of paradise articles you may be interested in: