Stealth Gardening

Several years ago, I planted a Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia) plant in a pot on my patio.  In fact, it was the inspiration for the title of this blog. It took a couple of years for it to flower, and now it is glorious.  The trouble is, it is now too big for the pot; so big, in fact, that the plastic pot has split open.

IMG_1680This has created a dilemma.  My first thought was that I would like to plant it in the flower bed beside my patio, but the homeowners’ association for this condo does not allow that. The trees, shrubs, and flowers are carefully tended by professional gardeners and they don’t want any amateurs meddling with their efforts.

A friend suggested that I plant it at night, but I don’t have a shovel, so I’d have to borrow one if I were to do that. Also, tree roots seem to be taking up all the available area of dirt, and I doubt I could dig there, even if I had a shovel, which I don’t. I suppose I could ask for permission, but I doubt the HOA would give it, and then they’d be on the lookout for stealth gardening in my area of the complex. They might send out garden spies to look out for wayward illegal-shrub-planting residents.

fullsizeoutput_7fdIt seems that my best solution would be to re-pot the plant. I would like to have ceramic pots but when I went to see some, I realized that I couldn’t lift one and I certainly couldn’t drag one up from the basement garage. Given that logistical problem, I decided reluctantly to buy two large plastic pots. I figured that I could split the plant in two and replant it in two halves. Accordingly, I bought the pots and two large bags of potting soil and hauled them home, up the stairs from the garage, and on to the patio.

I thought that if I could pick the plant up in its old split pot, I could lay it on the flower bed. Then I could hack at it and try to divide it into sections. Then I realized I had a new problem. I have no way to split the plant. The biggest tools I have are a small hacksaw and a bread knife. When I took my tools out to my plant I realized that I was sadly ill-equipped for the task. Also, the whole thing is too big and heavy for me to lift, so the flower bed hacking solution remains just a dream. I also suspect that I will need more than two pots if I am able to start the strelitzia-massacre.

What I need is a strong friend, a sharp knife, maybe a good saw, more pots, and possibly a spade shovel. Is it OK to put “strong friend” on a shopping list?









  1. Shovel and muscles are your best options here.
    Or ….. how about placing an ad in a local paper or local shop that you are willing to give one plant away if the person is willing to split the main plant for you and also bring a plant pot for your remaining ones?
    Fair exchange is no robbery and all that.

    We have a large patch of Strelizia – they are indigenous, to SA. Our neighbour’s gardener has never had an easy time on the couple of occasions he has come by to take a few plants – they are not easy to remove.

    1. Hmm. That’s not a bad idea, Ark. I’ll think on that. I read an article that says the roots are easily broken so you are supposed to try to pry them apart carefully and not hack at them with a blade, as I had intended. This could turn out to be a bigger problem than I thought!

      1. It is probably different if they are in a pot. Ours are in the ground and the bloke next door just went for it with a shovel.
        Your plastic pot should break fairly easily as it’s cracked already.
        Afterwards, I guess you can separate the plants and wrap them in newspaper or something?
        If there’s a local hardware store near you maybe they would be willing to take some of the plants off your hands.
        They might even give you a new pot in exchange?

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