Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Bird of Paradise, and Art Among the Leaves

I own two Bird-of-Paradise plants, one Strelitzia nicolai, aka White Bird of Paradise, named for its white flowers, and Strelitzia reginae, which has the more familiar orange flowers. Because they are indoor plants, I do not expect to see them flower anytime soon. The brightest light I can provide for them indoors is bright enough for them to grow nice foliage, but I'm sure that it is not bright enough for blooming.

Previously posted picture of my Strelitzia reginae. I grew this from seed in 2003 or 2004, so I suppose it is still a bit immature for blooming, even if I had better light for it. This is the first season I didn't put it outside for the summer. I plan to do so in the future, as I believe that is the best way to induce it to flower, if indeed it ever will.

Strelitzia nicolai, center. As I understand it, these almost never flower in the home, regardless of conditions, but are great foliage plants. Peppermint (bottom right) finds it, like all plants, unworthy of his interest.

But even if my plants refuse to cooperate, I do get to enjoy one Strelitzia flower in my home:

Bird in Paradise, 1996, by my husband Bob. The flower was drawn from life; the background landscape is drawn from his imagination.

When we first got together, Bob had this colored-pencil work in storage in the basement, as for some reason, he wasn't particularly fond of it. But I loved it from the first time I saw it, so he had it matted and framed, and now it hangs outside the door to our bedroom, in our upstairs hallway. Our home is filled with his artwork, and my plants, and I love it when they complement each other in this way.

And this past week, I finally got to see a blooming BOP plant in person. A specimen in the Chicago Botanic Gardens Tropical Greenhouse had a solitary bloom.

Strelitzia reginae flower. Though I have seen them in tropical bouquets, this is the first time I've seen one attached to a plant.

Full plant from the CBG. Much taller than my S. reginae, but much shorter than my S. nicolai.

More of Bob's artwork can be seen here, on our family website. A post featuring his stained glass work, juxtaposed with my houseplants, can be found by clicking the "Art" label at the end of this post.

No comments: