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Potting mix/compost for Bird of Paradise


By Bryony

United Kingdom Gb

I have a Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae) which has totally outgrown its pot (there are roots coming out of the base of the pot). What kind of compost or potting mix should I use to repot it? I have looked online and only found American brand names which I don't recognise.

Also, should I trim off the excess roots?


On plant Strelitzia reginae



It's a good thing you caught the roots trying to escape, Bryony! One of mine actually broke it's pot! I've always preferred a fast draining mix suitable for alpines and succulents, since it's a plant that likes lots of air around its roots. I don't know which brands that would be in the UK, but you should get the same effect by mixing sharp sand, fine ground pine bark, and pumice (or perlite) into a standard potting compost.

16 Apr, 2010


Ooh dear, I'm afraid mine's just growing in bog standard multi purpose compost, but it seems to be thriving regardless.

16 Apr, 2010


Well, I've got to admit, one of the things the fast draining mix is good for is staving off the root rot they are prone to here in the summer. Maybe without 46+ deg. C weather, it's less fussy!

17 Apr, 2010


Well you know, having said that, I won't be using multi purpose in future - I have yet to find one that is of usable quality for smaller and house plants. Everything I've bought in the last six months is full of wood, either lumps or lots of wood fibres, so it seems all the peat has been removed. Frankly, I could get better compost from a decently kept compost heap in the garden, I'm not impressed. John Innes No. 2 would seem to be called for, if for no other purpose than to mix it with the rubbish they're selling as multi purpose these days.

18 Apr, 2010


Things aren't much better here in the States, Bamboo. Some are so rank and full of fungus gnats, I wouldnt even use them in big pots outdoors! Any potting compost manufacturers reading, take note!

18 Apr, 2010


Well I'm glad we're not alone, Tugbrethil! Think they're having trouble coming up with something that's as good as peat mixes used to be - and the trouble with John Innes is, it should be used within six weeks, not left stored and waiting for months on end.

19 Apr, 2010


Thanks for your help Tugbrethil and Bamboo! I did not know that John Innes (composts? mixes?) have to be used within six weeks. As a relatively new gardener, I find the vast array of composts and so on confusing, but even I have also been thinking that multi-purpose seems to be quite lumpy and not great to use.

I couldn't find finely ground pine bark at the garden centre this weekend either. I don't feel like ordering online as I would like to get this done before I go away.

So shall I use John Innes no. 2 then? If so shall I mix it with potting compost or can I use it on it's own?

21 Apr, 2010


You can use it on its own - just remember its much heavier because it's loam based, so once wet, the pot can be quite heavy. The reason for using it within six weeks is something to do with the nitrates turning to nitrites if left for long periods - at least I think that's what it was, lol!

21 Apr, 2010

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