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Turquoise Puya

Strelitzia reginae 'Mandela's Gold'

The Yellow Bird of Paradise - Strelitzia reginae 'Mandela's Gold' - is a rare, yellow form of the famous orange Bird of Paradise.  This spectacular cultivar has flaring, yellow sepals and blue petals reminiscent of a crested tropical bird.  Like the orange form, it is easy to grow in the right conditions.  It can be difficult to start from seeds, so i offer established plants.

Yellow Bird of Paradise

Related to Heliconias and Bananas, the Yellow Bird of Paradise looks similar to the orange form, but it slightly smaller, growing to 4 feet tall.  This South African native eventually multiplies into a large colony of plants several feet across.  It blooms throughout the year in mild climates.  The tall flower stalks rise above the foliage, with a beak-like spathe growing outward, about 6 inches in length.  The bright yellow sepals spread out to invite birds to perch on the blue petals, which contain nectar.  The blooms make very long lasting cut flowers.  'Mandela's Gold' was named in honor of South African statesman, Nelson Mandela.

Yellow Strelitzia reginae 'Mandela's Gold'

While it thrives in mild, Mediterranean-type temperatures, it tolerates heat well, such as in Florida.  The leaves may die back from frost, although new growth can sprout from the base.  It is slightly more cold-sensitive than the orange form, so i recommend protecting it from temperatures below 35 degrees (-2C).  It grows well indoors in a large container.  It is adaptable to many types of soils.  Ideally it prefers a rich, well-draining soil, such as potting soil with perlite in a 2-to-1 ratio.  It prefers mostly sunny conditions.  In warmer areas, a little shade from strong afternoon sun is helpful.  Mature plants are fairly drought tolerant, but they look best if given regular water and fertilizer.

Yellow Strelitzia reginae 'Mandela's Gold'

 

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Photos courtesy of Martin Addison, Marc Eschenlohr, HM Hedge, and Derek Keats

 

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Turquoise Puya

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