Strelitzia nicolai, the Giant White Bird of Paradise is related to the Bird of Paradise flower, Strelitzia reginae, this close cousin is a much larger plant forming huge clumps of stems to 18 feet. Strelitzia nicolai is from South Africa. You can grow the plant indoors. Sizes normally found are 10" pots 3-4 feet, and 14" pots 5-7 feet in height.
The uniquely shaped flower of this exotic tropical perennial resembles a bird's head. The infloresence are composed of a dark blue bract, white sepals and bluish-purple tongue. They flower mostly in Winter and Spring, but they can bloom all year. From seeds, plants given ideal conditions will flower within 3 years. The entire flower can be as large as 7" high by 18" long and is typically held just above the point where the leaf fan emerges from the trunk.
Fantastically handsome flowers aside, this is also a very attractive foliage plant. The paddle-shaped leathery leaves are about 6-8' and grey-green.
Hardiness zones 9-11, (5øC/40øF, -5øC/25øF) in Winter. This plant is tender and is damaged by frost and freezing temperatures but will recover if ground does not freeze. In very cold climates it is better to provide some protection in Winter, or grow in pot and bring the plant inside.
They are however very tolerant plants and will thrive in most soils and can survive with very little water once established. The plants are also wind resistant and grow well in coastal gardens. Regular repotting allows the young plant to develop rapidly. Restricting the root development retards growth.
It should be potted in a mixture of sterile potting soil, peat moss, and sand . Excellent drainage is essential. Keep the soil evenly moist. Reduce amount of water to potted house plants in Winter. Feed every two weeks from March through September. They respond well to regular feeding with a slow release fertilizer and compost.
Strelitzia nicolai is an easy plant to grow in the garden. Plants do well in full sun to semi-shade. Young nicolai plants must be grown in shade, for the leaves tend to burn in direct sunlight. Plant in bright sun for the most flowers, and in shade for the best looking foliage.