Yellow bird of paradise plant

What To Do For Yellowing Leaves On A Bird Of Paradise

Eye-catching and distinctive, the bird of paradise is a fairly easy tropical plant to grow indoors or out. Bird of paradise is one of the most unique plants American growers can get their hands on these days. Although a few lucky gardeners can place bird of paradise out in the garden, by and large, most growers keep them as indoor or patio plants. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, they may develop yellow leaves due to problems with lighting, watering or pests. Read on to find out if your yellowing plant can be saved.

What Causes Yellowing Leaves on a Bird of Paradise Plant?

There are few bird of paradise plant problems that initiates should be aware of, but yellowing leaves on a bird of paradise plant is among the most common. This condition is typically caused by improper growing conditions, so let’s explore exactly what it takes to keep your plant green and happy.


When growing outside, bird of paradise plants prefer full sun to light shade. This can make it difficult to provide adequate light when the plant is moved indoors, resulting in a bird of paradise with yellow leaves.

If your plant is indoors and is yellowing for no apparent reason, try increasing its light by adding a full spectrum fluorescent bulb directly over the plant or moving it to a brighter room. Watch placing any plant too close to a window that receives a lot of direct light though, as the amplified ultraviolet rays can burn delicate leaf tissues.


Bird of paradise leaves turning yellow is also commonly caused by improper watering. Unlike most plants where you can error on the side of dry, bird of paradise plants are very intolerant of being either too dry or too wet.

During the first six months after planting or repotting, the plant may be extra sensitive to fluctuations in available moisture, but by applying a two- to three-inch deep layer of mulch around the plant, you can help slow drying and even out moisture retention. Be careful that the mulch does not touch the plant’s stem to help prevent stem rot.


Major pests on indoor bird of paradise plants are uncommon, but can occur from time to time. Plants will be especially susceptible if they spend the summer outdoors. A few of these pests cause yellowing to some degree, including:

  • Aphids – Hallmark signs are leaves yellowing in whole or in spots and a sticky residue. Aphids may also attract ants. Spray the undersides of your plant with water from a garden sprayer to dislodge aphids and drown them. Continue spraying daily for two weeks, repeating as often as necessary.
  • Scale – Like aphids, scale bugs can causing yellowing in a variety of patterns and exude sticky residue. Unlike aphids, you’re unlikely to recognize the scale as an insect, since they hide under thick protective shells. Generally, they look more like small cankers or other unusual growths on the plant. They’re most effectively treated with neem oil or imidacloprid, but be careful when using neonicotinoids to only apply in the evening and in doses as directed.
  • Whiteflies – Another sap-feeding insect like aphids and scale, whiteflies are the most obvious of this bunch. If there are many small, white, moth-like insects collecting under your plant’s yellowing leaves, there’s no doubt of their identity. Spray these offenders with water every few days, as they’re very susceptible to drowning.
  • Opogona crown borer – If you notice small holes in the base of your bird of paradise’s leaves or in the crown, you’ve got a crown borer. Once the plant has begun to yellow, there’s little you can do but remove the damaged tissues, provide excellent care and destroy any plants that are goners.

Problems With a Bird of Paradise Plant

bird of paradise image by Earl Robbins from

Bird-of-paradise plants are native to southern Africa, where they grow unhindered in sub-tropical areas. The plants can form astounding masses outdoors in southern Florida or southern California. They are stunning as 3- to 5-foot tall houseplants in cooler locations. Growers may encounter similar types of problems with bird-of-paradise in any setting, indoors or out. Bird-of-paradise plants are slow-growing, so a simple remedy may take months to show results.

Yellow Leaves

Bird-of-paradise leaves are huge, measuring up to 18 inches long and 6 inches wide. The remarkable foliage is part of the beauty of the plant. Occasionally leaves may turn yellow, then brown. Trim off yellow leaves; they will not recover.

The cause for yellowing may be over-watering or under-watering. Bird-of-paradise needs consistently moist soil. Good drainage is imperative. Soil should be rich loam, airy and light enough to allow water to filter through easily. Never allow the roots to stand in water. Frequent, even daily watering is best during the summer growing season. A saucer under potted plants will catch excess water. In the winter, water plants when the soil surface becomes dry.

No Blooms

Young bird-of-paradise plants expend energy on rhizome, root and foliage development. A plant from seed usually will not bloom before four or five years of age. A divided plant blooms in two or three years, depending on its new surroundings. Pot-bound plants produce more and larger flowers. Repotting a bird-of-paradise will interrupt or delay flowering for up to two years. New plants that have arisen from rhizomes in established beds may bloom sooner. Perfectly healthy new plants may take up to 10 years to produce a first bloom.

Insufficient light is another reason for a lack of blooms. The equivalent of full sun is required for bird-of-paradise plants to produce flowers. Supplemental plant lighting may help with indoor bird-of-paradise plants.

Cold Exposure

Bird-of-paradise plants are not frost- or freeze-tolerant. A frost will kill the above-ground plant, but as long as the ground does not freeze, the plant should recover. Trim back a plant damaged by cold to remove all dead and dying matter.


Bird-of-paradise plants that are grown outdoors will sucker, sometimes to the point of being a nuisance. A mature bird-of-paradise may have a very extensive root and rhizome system, and it can be strong enough to crack shallow walls and sidewalks. In outdoor settings, plant bird-of-paradise at least 6 feet from a building foundation or ornamental structure. Potted bird-of-paradise plants may crack the pots when they are root-bound.

Bird Of Paradise Plant Care

Posted on March 26, 2014 by Metropolitan Wholesale


Bird Of Paradise Plant Care Instructions

This article will explain Bird Of Paradise plant care instructions. By following this guideline, you should have no problem keeping your Bird Of Paradise not only surviving, but thriving for years to come. The Bird Of Paradise is of the most stunning indoor plants used in homes, offices and interior landscapes due to their exotic appearance and the occasional but impressive flowers. The Bird of Paradise is also known as Strelitzia, or more commonly the Crane Flower. They are native to South Africa but are commonly grown outdoors in the warmer parts of the United States and indoors around the world. The Bird of Paradise if best known for it’s banana shaped leaves and bird shaped tropical flowers.


Birds of Paradise are commonly grown as a tree form and are often mistaken for a palm. The two most common varieties that are available are the White Bird of Paradise and the Orange Bird Of Paradise. The White Bird tends to grow taller in appearance, while the Orange Bird is a smaller variety with thinner leaves. Birds of Paradise are available in 8, 10, 12,14 and 17in pot sizes – special orders for larger sizes are available as well. The heights will vary depending on what variety of plant is available, but Birds of Paradise can reach heights over 10-15′. They provide a great alternative to a standard Marginata or Fiddle Leaf Fig in an interior or office environment with suitable lighting.

White Bird Of Paradise

Lighting Requirements

Birds of Paradise do best in well-lit locations such as a window sill that has an Eastern exposure. Bright indirect sunlight is optimal. Birds of Paradise can also be grown outdoors in the warmer months when there is no chance of frost. If you have less than optimal lighting available, the plant may adapt and survive – but bright light is highly recommended. From our experience Birds Of Paradise are an excellent choice for a room or office with good window space.

Temperature Requirements

The Bird Of Paradise is a great house or office plant because it prefers the same temperatures that many living situations are kept at on a daily basis. Night time temperatures in the lower 60’s and day time temperatures in the 70’s are ideal. Keep in mind that although your home or office are kept at these average temperatures, other factors may play a part in your plant being too hot or cold. Make sure that your Bird of Paradise is not directly affected by a heating or air conditioner vent. The direct cold or hot air will surely damage your plant. You also want to keep an eye on the window if you place your plant in one. On very cold days, the glass will transfer the cold – and if the leaves from your Bird Of Paradise are pressed against the glass, they will become damaged. It is never a good idea to have your plant up against any window or wall. You will also want to avoid any drafts in colder climates. A cold gust of wind from being placed near a door or window that opens could also damage your plant.

Watering Bird Of Paradise

The most important thing to keep in mind when watering Bird of Paradise are that you want to avoid creating a situation that promotes root rot. In our homes and offices, we keep them in a light, well-draining soil. They prefer to be kept on the moist side, but not so moist that it sits in water. There is not specific amount or frequency of water that we can suggest because the lighting, temperature and evaporation rates differ in every home and office – but on average you probably should not be watering your Bird Of Paradise more than 4 times per month. The quantity of water that you give the plant depends on the pot size and how dry/moist the soil is. You will need to develop a feel for the proper amount of water. Try to water at an even amount of moisture, not letting your plant get soaking wet and then allowing it to become dry to the touch. Do not let water accumulate in the crown or cups that the leaves. Moderation is key. Any planter that allows for evaporation, air flow and water drainage works well. Once you develop the “feel” for watering, you will be able to judge when to water by picking up the plant. The heavier the plant feels, the more moisture there is in the growing medium. If the plant is too large to lift, a water meter is well worth the investment.

Are Your Plants Leaf Tips Turning Brown?

A common problem with Bird of Paradise and almost all indoor houseplants is what we call “tipping” or simply the tips of the leaves drying out and turning brown. This can be caused by a number of factors including over-watering, chemical burn from too much fertilizer, Root rot and dry stagnant air. Probably the most common reason your plant is tipping could be in the tap water. Tap water contains salts, chlorine, minerals and fluoride – all of which can build up in the soil of your plant causing the tips of the leaves to burn and turn brown. One way you can reduce this is to use a water filtration system. If you do not have a filtration system available, leaving he water in an open container overnight before using can help relieve some of the chlorine.

Fertilizing Bird of Paradise

Do house plant fertilizers work? Definitely. Bird Of Paradise, like every other living thing need a source of energy. The plants take in their nutrients from the light, water and potting medium they are planted in. That medium only holds so much, and when the nutrients are depleted, fertilizer is the only source left. People who grow house plants without repotting and fertilizing regularly are essentially starving the plants and holding them back from their full potential. There are many different fertilizers on the market and they come in many forms. There are water soluble fertilizers, ready to use liquid, liquid concentrate, fertilizer spikes, time release granules and many others. Which fertilizer works best? That is up for you to decide. We prefer a ready to use liquid simply for the convenience of use. We also dilute the fertilizer and use every time we water so there is a constant stream of nutrients being fed to the plants.

Bird Of Paradise Disease and Insects

Bird of Paradise plants are not often susceptible to insect infestation when grown indoors. The most common problems that can occur though are mealy bugs and scale. Both of these issues can be resolved quite easily if spotted early and treated properly. In most cases, a simple treatment of insecticidal soap or a solution of rubbing alcohol and water will do the trick. If you are having problems with your plant and not sure of the right solution, contact us and we will be happy to provide the best product for your issue.

Do you have a question about Bird of Paradise or any other plant that was not answered here? Please feel free to contact us at 201-794-4747 and speak with one of our knowledgeable staff members. We would be happy to help.

We are New Jersey’s and NYC’s premier source for wholesale tropical plants and cut flowers. We specialize in orders for hard to find plants and cut flowers.

Category: Bird Of Paradise, Bright Light Indoor Plants, Disease Resistant, Indoor Plants, Interior Landscaping, Plant Care Tips, Plants Tags: bird, bird of paradise, bright light plant, Easy Care, interiorscape, office plant

Leaf Curl On Bird Of Paradise Plants: Why Do Bird Of Paradise Leaves Curl?

Bird of paradise is one of those other-worldly plants that combine fantasy with spectacle. The brilliant tones of the inflorescence, uncanny resemblance to its namesake and towering huge leaves make this plant a stand out in the landscape. In unfavorable sites and conditions, you may notice curling leaves on bird of paradise. There are several reasons for leaf curl on bird of paradise. Here are a few to help you narrow down why do bird of paradise leaves curl.

Why Do Bird of Paradise Leaves Curl?

The natural form of bird of paradise is as a 5- to 30-foot tall tree. There are several varieties but each one has huge paddle shaped leaves that start out as curled tubes from the main body. The leaves unfurl as they mature, but even older foliage will bear some curve at the edges. Bird of paradise is a tropical plant with 18-inch long leaves on average that grows out of a main crown in a clump. A little bit of leaf curl on bird of paradise is normal but occasionally there

will be more pronounced curvature and possibly other damage signs.

Cultural Causes of Leaves Curling on Bird of Paradise Plant

The bird of paradise is suitable for USDA plant hardiness zones 10 and 11. It is not reliably hardy in zone 9, but you can grow it in a pot in cooler zones in summer as long as you move it indoors before cold temperatures arrive. The leaves are thin at the edges and tend to tatter in high winds or with repeated bruising. Any number of things can cause leaf curl on bird of paradise in improper conditions.

  • New plants need plenty of water at establishment or their newer leaves will curl in protest.
  • Chilly temperatures tend to make the leaves curl inward as protection.
  • Poor soil and improper soil pH will also present as curling leaves on bird of paradise.

Leaves Curling Up on Bird of Paradise Due to Pests and Disease

Several pests have been known to attack bird of paradise plants. Malformed leaves and curling foliage are caused by sucking insects such as scale and mites. A form of thrip, Chaetanaphothrips signipennis, is commonly found on bird of paradise plants and also causes the leaves to curl.

Some fungal diseases are common to the bird of paradise; but while they do cause foliar deformation, they do not commonly cause leaves curling up on bird of paradise. More common reasons are environmental.

Curling Leaves on Bird of Paradise Indoors

Container bound bird of paradise plants should be repotted every few years or when they become pot bound. New soil is important in container plants to help provide nutrients. It is also important to give the plant enough root space. If the plant is root bound, it impedes its ability to uptake moisture and nutrients which can cause curling leaves on bird of paradise.

Situating the plant near a drafty window will affect leaf health as will allowing the container to dry out for too long. Leaves may also curl after a transplant, but they will usually rally in a few days after the transplant shock wears off.

How to Care for and Grow Your Bird of Paradise

Brown edges – underwatering

If you see crispy, brown edges on your Bird of Paradise, it could be that it’s underwatered or the environment is too dry. Birds of Paradise like a lot of humidity and are generally pretty thirsty plants — do not place this plant near air vents or heaters. Make sure you are watering your plant regularly, and also add misting to your routine to boost humidity levels for the plant’s foliage (you can mist every day, several times a day, or just a couple times a week!).

Yellow leaves – overwatering

If you see yellowing wilted leaves on your Bird of Paradise, it could be that your plant is overwatered. Check the roots to make sure there is no root rot. If the roots are damaged, you will need to repot your plant (see below). If the roots are fine, simply let the plant dry out before watering again.

Curling leaves

If the leaves on your Bird of Paradise are curling inward, the cause is most likely also underwatering. To let your plant replenish its moisture, give it a good shower. Remove the plant from its decorative pot and place in a shower, bathtub, or outside. Give it a thorough watering, allowing it to drain all the excess out before putting back in the pot. Depending on how dry the plant is, you may also allow it to sit in water for an hour or two.

How to maintain a beautiful and healthy Bird of Paradise

Take care of your Bird of Paradise and it will take care of you! Below are simple tips to continue caring for your Bird of Paradise over time.

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