Q: I have three separate bird of paradise plants in south Sacramento near Fruitridge Road and the 65th Street Expressway. Lately, it seems like they have more flowers.
They were given to my wife about 20 to 25 years ago. I would like some advice on how to care for them. Can they be divided?
Victor Lagunas, Sacramento
A: Bird of paradise (Strelitzia reginae) must be divided with care, according to UC Master Gardener Bill Pierce. If you dig the clump up and attempt to break it apart with your hands, you will get mostly tops with no roots.
The clump needs to be cut apart with a large knife or handsaw. Do this after the plants have finished blooming usually late spring or early summer.
Fall is not a good time to divide bird of paradise plants because the separated plants will not be well- established before frosty weather comes.
These natives to South Africa not Hawaii, as is commonly believed are hardy in the Sacramento area as long as they can be protected from severe frosts.
They should be located in a sheltered spot that gets at least six hours of sunlight each day.
They require weekly irrigation and respond well to an occasional side dressing of well-rotted manure or compost.
If you use a mulch, take care that it does not come in contact with the stems as this may cause rot.
Bird of paradise tend to bloom more when the roots are crowded. That may explain why they seem to be blooming more with age.
Q: I have a good set of shears, but I somehow lost the spring. It was a "barrel spring." I have searched for such a spring, but have had no success.
Do you know of any place local to Lincoln Hills or Roseville that might have any?
Bill Brown, Lincoln
A: "I bought new springs for my Felco shears by going to the company via the Internet," said UC Master Gardener Bill Pierce.
Most of the manufacturers of garden hand tools supply spare parts for their products, and the postage charges are less than the cost of gasoline to visit dozens of hardware stores.
In El Dorado County, there is a unique older hardware store in downtown Placerville that is worth visiting as they carry a great array of products, Pierce added. It's Placerville Hardware Store, 441 Main St., Placerville. Call (530) 622-1151 for more details.
Questions are answered by master gardeners at the UC Cooperative Extension services in Sacramento and Placer counties.
Send questions to Garden Detective, P.O. Box 15779, Sacramento, CA 95852. Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please put "Garden Detective" in the subject field and include your postal address. To contact your UC Extension directly, call:
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