Enhancing Tropical Flair and Garden Harmony: Bird of Paradise Companion Plants

Ella Earth
13 Min Read
Photo by Thierry Fillieul on Pexels.com

As an avid gardener who is constantly seeking to expand my horticultural knowledge and create unique garden landscapes, I have become fascinated by the tropical elegance of Bird of Paradise plants and their potential for visually dynamic plantings when paired with compatible companion plants. 

In this article, I aim to share key learnings from my research and experiences so others can benefit from the synergistic partnerships that can result from strategic companion planting around Bird of Paradise. 

By exploring preferred growing conditions, beneficial plant associates, influential design principles, and thriving examples, my hope is that readers will feel inspired to cultivate their own piece of paradise at home.

Bird of Paradise Companion Plants

Key Takeaways

  • Birds of Paradise thrive in locations with bright, indirect light and well-draining soil enriched with organic matter.
  • Complementary flowers, herbs, groundcovers, shrubs and native plants can attract pollinators while accentuating tropical vibrancy.
  • Layering plants and considering seasonal trends results in lush, biodiverse gardens that appeal to the senses year-round.
  • Responsible gardening practices like organic pest control and nutrient balancing promote long-term plant health and ecological integrity.

Understanding Bird of Paradise Preferences

As one of the quintessential symbols of tropical splendor, Bird of Paradise plants undoubtedly deserve a place in any landscape seeking an injection of exotic beauty. With their dramatic upright spikes of colorful bloom, they command attention wherever placed. 

However, to maintain the striking forms that have made them legendary, Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae) do have some specific requirements related to light, moisture and soil.

For optimal growth, Bird of Paradise prefers locations receiving full sun to partial shade, avoiding areas of complete shade. While they can adapt to a range of conditions, morning sun exposure coupled with afternoon dappled light results in the most vigorous specimens boasting robust leaves and abundant flowering. 

Regarding water, their native South African habitat experiences periods of drought as well as rainfall, so the soil must consistently drain well while receiving regular moisture. Heavy, poorly draining soils prone to waterlogging are unsuitable. 

Finally, Bird of Paradise plants benefit from soils enriched with organic matter to promote moisture retention and nutrient availability. Compost, aged manure or natural mulches incorporated into planting beds provide ideal soil structure.

By understanding what the Bird of Paradise is adapted to thrive in based on its natural habitat cues, gardeners can make informed choices about complementary associates best suited to similar conditions. Pairing with plants of like-mind when it comes to light, moisture and nutrient regime fosters a harmonious, low-maintenance tropical scene.

Exploring Beneficial Bird of Paradise Companion Plants

Once the general preferences of Bird of Paradise are established, exploring categories of companion plants offering mutual benefits through their growth habits, blooms and functions creates ripe opportunities for picturesque, multi-sensory gardens. Whether accentuating colors, scents, foliage textures or habitats, diverse plant assemblages hold vast potential.


Vibrant blooms provide nectar for pollinators while accentuating the colorful flower spikes of Bird of Paradise. Canna ‘Tropicana’ and Torch Ginger pair well, as do annuals like Mandevilla, Bougainvillea and Angelonia offering seasonal pops of pink, red and white.


Fragrant herbs add an aromatic dimension. Lemon grass, Rosemary and Catnip spread neatly below while attracting pollinators and deterring pests like aphids.


Creeping plants soften spaces between larger specimens. Purple Heart trailing vines, Society Garlic or Yellow Flag Iris naturalize beautifully and outcompete weeds.


Providing a leafy backdrop, shrubs with low maintenance requirements like Plumbago, Duranta or Hibiscus rosa sinensis complement the bold Bird of Paradise form.

By selecting for traits like tropical origin, similar growing needs, pest resistance and layered structure, these plant partnerships yield settings with heightened visual interest, biodiversity and low input care. Assessing categories suitable to individual gardens ensures only compatible neighbors are incorporated.

Designing a Tropical Oasis with Bird of Paradise Companion Plants

With preferred associates in mind, assembling them into cohesive, seasonally evolving designs is where the magic truly unfolds. By layering plant heights, spreading, blooming periods and textures, spectacular scenes emerge. Additional tactics maximize impact:

  • Incorporate Bird of Paradise at sporadic intervals rather than in dense clumps for breathing space.
  • Weave in fast-growing, trailing vines on fences or structures to establish lush backdrops quickly.
  • Vary plant spacings from 12-36 inches depending on growth habits to prevent overcrowding.
  • Consider seasonal displays when selecting both evergreen and seasonal plantings.
  • Place taller specimens toward the rear with lower elements in front for natural framing.
  • Experiment with intermixing companion plants of varying sizes rather than segregating by category.

With these layering principles in play, space is utilized vertically and aesthetics hold appeal year-round as plants progress through growth cycles together in balanced coordination. Room is also allowed for adaptation as conditions and preferences change over time.

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Creating a Haven for Pollinators and Wildlife with Native Companion Plants

Fostering biodiversity is an especially rewarding aspect of companion planting, and few techniques yield benefits like incorporating regionally appropriate native species adapted to local soil and climate conditions. While still ornamental, native combinations provide indispensable ecological function as well. 

With an abundance of pollen and nectar sources, natives naturally attract beneficial insects such bees, birds and butterflies, catalyzing balanced ecosystems. Some top natives for my area include:

  • Lilacs for fragrant spring blooms humming with pollen-hungry insects
  • Milkweeds as a vital host plant sustaining at-risk Monarch butterflies
  • Black-Eyed Susans and Coneflowers producing bountiful golden seeds in fall
  • Grasses like Little Bluestem sheltering overwintering insects within their seed heads

Not only are natives low-maintenance once established, but their co-evolved relationships with local wildlife are what preserve bio-regions. Incorporating a percentage of them amidst non-native tropical companions enriches the landscape for pollinators while promoting environmental sustainability – a win-win scenario.

Case Studies of Successful Bird of Paradise Companion Plantings

Observing exemplary designs firsthand offers valuable learning opportunities, as themes and nuances may not translate fully through photographs alone. During my travels, I came upon several public gardens showcasing especially vibrant Bird of Paradise plantings, allowing me to analyze contributors leading to their flourishing states.

A coastal garden blended Bird of Paradise harmoniously amongst exotic ti plants, ginger lilies and plume poppies, yielding a veritable oasis. Their soil received regular nutrient additions via compost which clearly translated to superior growth. 

Another informal yard discreetly integrated them amongst native shrubs and tall grasses, creating natural privacy and habitat rather than high-maintenance segregation. Lastly, a smaller-scale suburban plot combined Bird of Paradise skillfully with creeping liriope, cannas and shade of a crape myrtle tree – a lesson in utilizing every inch to its fullest potential through layering.

Constantly gathering visual resources aids in transposing principles for novel, personal spaces. Observing thriving templates also highlights less obvious nurturing factors beyond aesthetic appeal like nutrient management, compatible spacing and habitat promotion.

Related Article: Bougainvillea Growth Stages

Addressing Challenges and Maintaining a Healthy Tropical Garden

While companion planting assists greatly in balancing ecosystems, occasional issues may still arise that demand attention. Two primary considerations include pests and soil optimization:

  • Common Bird of Paradise pests like scale, mealybugs and aphids are typically kept at bay with regular horticultural oil sprays. Companion plantings also aid by attracting beneficial insects to maintain natural balances.
  • Fertile, well-draining soil is crucial to support lush growth and deter root rot incidence. Adding organic matter aids moisture retention while replenishing removed nutrients. Avoiding over-fertilizing and testing soil periodically prevents imbalances.
  • Disease prevention focuses on sanitation, air circulation and avoiding overcrowding or overhead watering that fosters pathogens. Removing diseased debris helps contain issues before they spread.

With routine maintenance and responsible choices, tropical gardens thrive while co-existing harmoniously with local wildlife. Optimal conditions maintained through such measures sustain thriving plant partnerships for many seasons of shared growth.

Final Thoughts

Seeking to cultivate authentic slices of paradise at home, through researching the captivating allure of Bird of Paradise and exploring its infinite compatible planting possibilities, my hope is that readers feel both informed and inspired to develop their own contemplative tropical escapes. 

Appreciating the smaller roles that various companion species play in supporting one another fosters richly biodiverse settings of enduring appeal. While constantly learning and experimenting, practicing organic, sustainable techniques allows magnificent partnerships like that of Bird of Paradise and its associates to experience their fullest potential for years to come.

References & Citations

Frequently Asked Questions on Bird of Paradise Companion Plants

Q. What plant goes with birds of paradise?

A. Some plants that pair nicely with birds of paradise include cannas, elephant ears, ginger, bananas, gingers, hibiscus and other tropical plants. succulents and architectural plants like cordylines also complement their large tropical foliage.

Q. Where is the best place to plant a Bird of Paradise?

A. Bird of paradise flowers thrive in full sun, at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily. They do best in zones 9-11 but can be grown as annuals or brought indoors in colder areas. Provide fertile, well-draining soil. Near paths or as a specimen plant, they make a dramatic statement.

Q. How can I make my Bird of Paradise grow faster?

A. Fertilize every 2 weeks during growing season with balanced water soluble plant food. Ensure soil drains well and doesn’t stay soggy. Staking allows taller growing cultivars to reach their full potential without flopping over. Provide adequate space for root development.

Q. How close can you plant birds of paradise?

A. Space bird of paradise plants 18-24 inches apart when planting from seed or dividing established clumps. Mature height and spread varies by variety from 3-8 feet tall and 2-4 feet wide, so allow at least 2 feet between plants for air circulation and growth.

Q. Do birds of paradise multiply?

A. Yes, birds of paradise will naturally multiply over time. They spread via rhizomatous underground stems. Dividing existing clumps every 3-5 years keeps them bushy and controls spread. Cut off and replant divisions in spring or fall when temperatures are mild.

Q. What is the best fertilizer for bird of paradise?

A. During the growing season, use a balanced liquid fertilizer every 2-4 weeks diluted to the label instructions. Good choices include 10-10-10, 15-15-15 or 20-20-20. Slow release granular varieties can also be worked into the soil at planting and reapplied annually in spring.

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As a passionate gardener, I can often be found tending to my plants and flowers. My garden is my happy place, where I can escape the stresses of everyday life and connect with nature. I have a green thumb and take great pride in my work, carefully nurturing each plant and flower to help them thrive.