Are bird of paradise roots invasive? | What to know before you plant

The common bird of paradise Strelitzia reginae bird of paradise does not have invasive roots but they can grow long but are easily contained in pots and small garden beds. These roots will grow and wind together but can be easily lifted and trimmed with a shovel. Giant bird of paradise do have invasive and large roots so take care not to plant them near a concrete wall, pavers or buildings.

The common bird of paradise Strelitzia reginae is frequently used in backyards and has a bright orange flower. It looks amazing in pots or in a garden bed. I have recently moved 4 large bird of paradise plants into pots and my garden bed and did a major root trim to get them to fit.

Root system of Giant bird of paradise: Strelitzia nicolai

Giant bird of paradise have large, invasive root systems so it is best not to plant it near any structures, pavers or concrete. These trees will grow large, reaching over 30 feet high but they can be kept contained in a pot.

These plants can be very difficult to move by hand once they are established and you may need machinery to get them out. These trees can have roots systems that spread further that you would think at least 6 feet or more.

There is a giant bird of paradise plant growing near a house on my street and it does look great. The leaves do dry out and looks like they need to be trimmed more regularly. The problem with these large trees is that once they are full size, they are very high to reach.

A large extendable set of secateurs on a pole might be the only way to do that.

Trimming bird of paradise roots when moving them

When I removed some large bird of paradise plants from their original pots they were completely root bound, with large tuberous roots escaping out the bottom. The plant had grown roots out of the pot reaching down to the water and soil that had washed out underneath.

The pots themselves were so old and brittle that they broke when I lifted the plant so it was definitely time to move them. These bird of paradise plants had been growing I the same space for at least 5 years so were ready to be re-potted.

My new pots for bird of paradise plants.

I used larger pots than they were in because I didn’t want to split the plants. Trimming the roots was the next step and was easily done with a sharp spade.

Once the plant was removed from the pot, I simply laid the plant down on its side and scraped the bottom and edges with the spade.

For any long, hanging roots I used sharp secateurs to trim off the ends of the roots and tidy them up. I tidied up the roots to a point that they were back to a shape that would fit in the pot and the bound roots were freed up.

Are bird of paradise roots deep?

Bird of paradise plants can grow deep roots depending on the type. Giant bird of paradise plants will grow deep roots that head down to deeper soil to stabilize the plant and reach for deeper ground water.

The common bird of paradise plants with orange flowers are less invasive and their large, tuberous roots are easy to remove. They will send roots down to hold the plant in place which is a good thing otherwise the large clump can fall over.

The main thing to remember is to remove the plant before it gets too big and hard to handle. Bird of paradise can get incredibly heavy so when you see that there are multiple stems or if it has been 3-5 years you can lift it and divide.

Bird of paradise plants are hardy and can handle severe root trim. Just make sure you don’t damage the stems if possible but if you do, trim off any broken leaves as they will not grow back.

If leaves have bent, you do have the chance to save them. Check out my article here for more on bent and broken leaves on bird of paradise.

What kind of root system does a bird of paradise have?

Bird of paradise plants can grow large roots that look like tubers. They will be mixed in with smaller roots which also take up nutrients from the ground. Tuberous roots will hold water for the plant and are excellent at helping it to make it through drought conditions.

Large bird of paradise plants or giant versions can grow large root systems which are needed to stabilize the plant. Remember that these can be plated in pots if you are worried and should not be planted near buildings.

Can I put bird of paradise plants in the compost?

You can put small pieces of common bird of paradise roots in the compost if you like. Use a spade to chop them in small pieces so they break down quickly. Avoid putting large bird of paradise roots into your compost as they can re-sprout from rhizomes and take over. Place them in your green bin instead.

Are bird of paradise root systems heavy?

The root ball of a bird of paradise plant can get incredibly heavy as it grows. They can grow in a tight ball which will hold a lot of weight and water and can be difficult to move. Remember this if you plan on moving one from a pot or out of the ground.

You might need a friend to help you to move a large plant and take care. I find that rolling the plant onto its side and taking the pot off from the bottom can save you having to lift a heavy plant.

Are bird of paradise roots invasive? | Summary

Giant bird of paradise plants can have invasive roots so take care when you are deciding where to plant them. A large open area away from structures is best as the root system can lift pavers or affect concrete.

The common bird of paradise plant with orange flowers have less invasive roots which will fill out a pot quickly but are easy to trim with a shove or secateurs. Re-pot them every 3-5 years and keep the root system happy.

Happy planting.