How To Shape Strelitzia Leaves

How often have we looked at our gardens, or even plant material we have purchased for a design, and worried about the potential waste of either flowers or foliage?

At the farm we have an enormous strelitzia that sits in a corner of the home paddock, happily producing flowers and foliage year after year. The feral deer don’t go near it, the wallabies and kangaroos don’t eat it, not even the birds seem much interested in it. So it continues to thrive and produce. I use the flowers and sometimes the foliage in my designs but I was intrigued when a saw a floral design demonstration by a colleague who had used dried strelitzia leaves exclusively in the design.

How do you dry these enormous leaves and get such interesting shapes?

The answer is almost too easy.

Cut them and leave them alone. They do actually dry into all sorts of different shapes without you having to do a single bit of manipulation. You then have a range of leaves and shapes that will last for years without any expense except time.

They do take some time to dry – in my experience at least 4 weeks – so it’s better to plan a bit ahead of you want them for a special design.

Here’s a pictorial record of some of my own leaves drying over time.

1 day after picking
2 weeks later
4 weeks later
In a design – many months later, after being used quite a few times!

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