The exotic bird of paradise may look like an intimidating flower to care for, but our guide will help keep these gorgeous blooms looking as magnificent as the day they arrived. Dissolve the accompanying packet of flower food into a vase filled with room-temperature water. Cut about an inch off the bottom of each stem, at a diagonal and preferably under water to prevent air bubbles. Remove any foliage that falls beneath the water line, because it has a tendency to soak up nutrients needed for the blooms. On the third day, change the water and add more flower food. Also, give the stems a fresh cut. If you notice the water turning yellow or gray before the third day, change it immediately to prevent any bacterial build-up. These exotic blooms are sensitive to cool temperatures (below 50 degrees), so display them in a comfortable spot positioned away from air vents and also direct sunlight.
When you see how the bright orange and blue flowers bloom from the green leaves, these spectacular specimens truly resemble a bird. Each stem usually contains four or five flowers, but sometimes only one flower is visible from the stem's boat-shaped bract. When one exposed flower withers, remove it so that another can emerge. If a flower remains closed, you can gently part the sheath a bit to reveal the bloom inside. As it hydrates, it will open more on its own.
Native to South Africa, the bird of paradise symbolizes freedom, success, royalty, paradise, joy and love. It's the official flower for a couple's ninth wedding anniversary. They make the perfect gift for celebrating someone's success, such as a graduation or promotion. They also represent new beginnings and would be appropriate for congratulating a new mom and dad, or as a farewell gift for a friend.