Bird of Paradise?
Having received a gift of fresh Strelitzia seeds direct from Southern CA (thanks Bob!), I've embarked on a mission to encourage their germination, and urge them thence to grow. Here I will describe my process, and (hopefully) post my progress! A quick web search disclosed two alternative germination methods, and I decided to try them both.

Front left you will see my inspiration for starting this project at this time: a plastic zipper case that contained a small teddy bear. It screamed "greenhouse," and I heard it.

Method #1 calls for scarifying or breaking the seed coat, and that is what I am doing here, with a file. That orange stuff is the fuzzy Muppet hair that adorns each deep brown seed.

Method #2 calls for soaking the seed for 3-4 days before planting. I have placed it in warm water, in a small vial that once contained saffron. I will change the water every day.

Seed #1 has been planted 1" deep in a 1-1 mixture of soil and sand, and seed #2 is soaking. 85F is best for germination, so the greenhouse is lodged in the furnace room for now.

After a few days spent snugly soaking, seed #2 is ready for its haircut.

Seed #2 is neatly shorn and nestled in its pot, ready to be covered up with sandy soil. Good luck, buckaroo! This ain't no Southern Califormia! 

Both seeds are now planted, and the "cuddle-bear" greenhouse is ready to go back in the furnace room. I will check the pots for adequate dampness every few days.

By the way, the mother ship is actually a Giant Bird of Paradise (see car bumper and tree in background for scale). Stay tuned for news! Germination may take 1-12 months...

Bird of Paradise Updates

Seed #2 takes flight with a little white shoot from one day to the next - first seen Nov. 28th, exactly one month after planting! The next challenge will be to provide warmth and light throughout the cold, dark New England winter... How can I convince this little shoot that it is really in Hawaii? A grow-light may well be in my future...

A new home for the baby bird, with holes punched in the top for ventilation. This new cage will probably move around a bit over the next little while as I try to find the best conditions...

12/23/08 - After a few scant weeks in the soup container, the young sprout has achieved thumb size, and no longer fits in. From now on, it's life in the open air!

Nested among the plugs beneath a small fluorescent desk lamp, the bird of paradise spreads its first green wing. A slinky is half-pictured at left - useful for temporary stress relief.

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