Bird of paradise roots can grow deeper than 16 inches once they reach full size. Common bird of paradise plants, S. reginae will grow well in 18 inches of soil or less but their roots will grow deeper if they are allowed. Giant bird of paradise plants however have large invasive roots which can grow as deep as 6 or more into the soil.
Bird of paradise have tuberous roots which can grow deep into the soil if they are allowed. Growing them in a pot allows you to keep them under control and to lift and split them up once they have outgrown the pot.
The roots of the plant can be trimmed back, the plant split into 2-3 main stems and they can be retuned to the same pot to give it space to grow and recover. Every 3-5 years you can lift and split bird of paradise which is made easier when they are grown in pots.
This article will explore information about the bird of paradise roots system to help you decide which species to choose and where to plant them in your garden
Bird of paradise roots: Description
Bird of paradise roots are large and tuberous and soft and easy to cut with a spade. I recently repotted 4 large bird of paradise plants because the roots had broken through the bottom of the plastic pots to reach moisture underneath.
Breaking off the old plastic pots was the best approach. As the roots had become bound I had trimmed off the excess so they could fit comfortably in the new pots which were closer to 16 inches by 14 inches.
Bird of paradise roots compared to plant size
Bird of paradise plants can have small root systems compared to the size of the pot if they are kept contained in a pot.
The bird of paradise plants that I had re-potted were over 6 feet high but the root systems were quite small at around 1 foot deep. When I moved them, I used a spade to cut the bottom of the roots off where they were long and coming out of the bottom of the pot.
Bird of paradise roots in pots
Bird of paradise roots can be contained by planting them in a strong pot. Bird of paradise actually don’t mind being contained in the pot and the plant will still grow strong and healthy.
Planting them in pots make it easy to move and divide them when they outgrow their pot. New stems will pop up and grow from the underground rhizome. This means that they can be divided every 3-5 years.
Transplanting bird of paradise plants in pots: Caring for the roots
After separating the plants, trimming the roots and moving them to the new pot they can struggle to establish. For mine, because I didn’t split the plants up, they actually flowered straight after replanting. Within 4 weeks they were covered in new flower stems.
Transplanting these plants in late winter was the perfect timing for our plants as the cooler weather allowed the to settle in and when the weather turned slightly warmer they were ready to flower.
Mine are the most common type of bird of paradise the orange-flowered S. reginae. These are hardy, grow to a maximum height of about 6 feet and are easy to care for.
Giant bird of paradise roots
Giant bird of paradise are common and can grow to over 30 feet high. They can grow a deep and invasive root system and can be difficult to move once established. Planting this palm is best done if you are planning to grow a large plant in an open area.
Giant bird of paradise roots will grow deep once established reaching down to the ground water to stabilize the palm. They can be grown in pots but they still can grow large and will need to be regularly pruned and transplanted before the break through the bottom of the pot.
How to trim bird of paradise roots
Trimming bird of paradise roots is as easy as using a sharp spade or secateurs. For roots that are long and hanging or damaged, just trim them back to the healthy base with your secateurs to start with.
Using a spade you can give the roots a harsher trim which was what I needed to do when moving mine. These plants had become completely pot bound so I simply removed the bottom 2-3 inches of roots and shaped them so they would fit neatly into my new pots.
This was a simple process and my plants have bounced back to live within weeks. It is now late winter and they have sprung to life, coming into bloom with many flower heads on each plant.
These flowers last for many weeks and can be easily trimmed back towards the base of the plant once they have finished.
How to re-pot a bird of paradise
Repotting a bird of paradise plant is an easy process but for larger plants it is best to use 2 people. My large bird of paradise plants were heavy to lift so having one person on each side of the plant made it easier.
Choose a pot that fits the space you plant to put it and that drains well. Lifting an outdoor pot onto pot feet will help it to drain outdoors.
Remove the plant from the pot and trim off any damaged roots. You can shape the roots using a spade or secateurs to fit into your new pot.
The plants can also be split into 2-3 pieces making sure that there is a large amount of healthy root system on each plant, that there is a large piece of rhizome and the stems look healthy.
Plant the stems into new, good quality potting soil in a pot that will comfortably fit your plant. I have actually chosen smaller pots for my large bird of paradise as they actually don’t mind having compact roots.
Water the plant well and make sure that the water is able to drain out. A slow release fertilizer can be added to the top of the soil in spring to allow it to recover and grow new leaves.
How deep are bird of paradise roots? | Summary
Bird of paradise roots will grow as deep as they are allowed and once in the ground it is difficult to tell. For bird of paradise plants grow in pots they can kept contained to around 16-18 inches even for a large plant. Just make sure the plant pot is stable otherwise the pot can become top heavy and may tip over.
Bird of Paradise
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