If any plant screams exotic and tropical then Strelitzia reginae is the one. Loved by florists and tropical gardeners the world over this gorgeous exotic has long stalked, grey, green (green when young) paddle shaped leaves and stems up to 1.5 meters tall. The well know flowers are orange and blue and emerge from a beak like spathe usually in Winter and Spring but if the Summer is cool they may continue flowering through the season. If growing in a pot keeping the plant pot bound can also increase the amount of flowers produced.
We have various trials on the go with these growing permanently outside in the UK and have had mixed results. Despite what is written they do seem to be root hardy for short spells down to about -5c when grown in well drained ground. Although the roots seem to survive the foliage gets knocked back and this is where the hardiness problem lies. It is not so much the winter temperatures that seem to be the problem, it seems to be the summers. Strelitzia are slow growing and after the foliage has been cut back by the winter cold it takes a long, warm growing season for it to fully recover, that’s what we in the UK, seem to lack. The most successful test we have is down on the South coast, about a mile inland from the sea. The plant is now in it’s 3rd winter outside in a sheltered spot but although it does die back in the winter it does recover. Unfortunately, it does not recover enough due to the cooler, short summers so the clump is getting shorter and smaller each year and unless we get it under glass for this winter I think it will eventually fizzle out.
Grow in a moist but well drained, loam based compost in full sun, moving outside for the summer plunging the pot into a tropical border or as a star attraction on the patio. Apply a balanced liquid fertiliser once a month from March until October. Reduce watering from mid Autumn to mid spring keeping the soil on the drier side. If growing under glass during the warmer months mist spray regularly and shade from midday full summer sun.
Young plant sent in a 1ltr pot.