Flower of the Hour: Strelitzia

Strelitzia, commonly known as Bird of Paradise on account of its fabulous beak-shaped head, is a large, tropical perennial native to South America. It makes a striking cut flower, instantly recognisable by its radiant crown of bright orange petals, streaked with a vivid violet-blue hue.

“Strelitzia always fascinate flower shop visitors,’ explains McQueens social media manager Duncan McCabe. ‘They are about as exotic as a flower can get. They look like nothing else, so there is something almost otherworldly about them, and they are a true wonder of the flower world. They are also the only specimen I can think of that combines orange and blue within the flower. Bearing that in mind, they are not going to look great in every decor, but they are a curiosity, and a single strelitzia in a vase is all you need to make a unique statement.”

Having gained popularity during the tropical trend of the late 90s to noughties, strelitzia along with its tropical counterparts, anthurium, heliconia and glorious to name check a few) is making a rapid comeback as the trend for exotic flowers and foliage kicks in.

Those of you familiar with our collection of hand-made bouquets will know that it’s not what you might call a typical McQueens flower. Among our hotel and contracts designs however, it’s earned a steadfast loyalty for its long-lasting qualities, as shop manager Andrea Bassoli, explains.

“Strelitzia isn’t just striking, but it’s an amazingly low-maintenance cut flower with enviable staying power, often lasting ten days or more with good care. Not only are they very hardy, but strelitzia are striking on their own — or combined with their fan-like leaves, (an impressive foliage in its own right). Arranged together in a tall vase won’t fail to make a statement, they are a very majestic flower.”

And if that weren’t enough, Andrea has one more nugget of know-how to share about this exotic bloom.

‘ As tropical experts know, you can extend the staying power of this tropical favourite with a very quick and simple flower hack. Strelitzia always has two to three more orange petals hidden in the ‘beak’ of the flower; if you want them all on display, or if the first one has wilted, you can (very) gently open up the beak and pull them out one by one.”

A trio of vibrant orange strelitzia create an eye catching display simply arranged in blue-tinted bottles
A trio of strelitzia create an eye-catching display simply arranged in blue-tinted bottles