Birds of paradise are beautiful tropical species with long leaves that grow both outdoors and indoors. However, if these beautiful leaves start to curl, they can become a source of concern.
The leaves of bird of paradise plants can curl if they do not get enough water or humidity. Sometimes, too much sun can also lead to curling. To fix this, check the soil regularly and water it whenever it feels almost dry. Also, use a humidifier to provide enough humidity for your plant.
There can be other reasons behind the curling of the leaves of your bird of paradise. In this article, we’ll dive deep into the causes and solutions for curling leaves in your bird of paradise. So keep reading.
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Causes of Curling Leaves in Bird of Paradise (+Fixes)
There can be multiple reasons behind the curling of the leaves of your bird of paradise plants.
Because these plants have long leaves, the curling is easy to spot.
Let us now understand all the common reasons behind the curling of leaves in bird of paradise plants.
If you find that the leaves of your bird of paradise are curling inward, it can signify that the plant is underwatered.
Millennials and Gen Z plant owners can get busy and forget to water their plants on time.
And this can cause the soil to dry out completely and cause dehydration.
The plant then curls its leaves to prevent further water loss.
If you want to know if your bird of paradise is underwatered, check the soil.
If the soil feels dry, the curling is due to that.
You might also notice the browning edges and tips on the leaves.
The next step should be to water the plant and bring it back to life.
Here are a few steps you can follow:
- If the soil feels compact, take a stick and make some holes. This will aerate it. Then, you can pour water on the soil and wait for it to drain out of the drainage holes.
- You can also try the bottom-watering method, where you fill the bathtub, sink, or container with water. Take the plant and put it inside for 20-30 minutes. Once the soil has soaked the water, take it out and let the excess water drain out.
- You can also try mixing these two methods to ensure the plant gets water thoroughly.
If you don’t want this to happen again, fix a watering schedule.
You can set reminders on your phone to help you check on your bird of paradise and water it on time.
However, do not water without checking the soil.
Either insert your finger into the soil to check the moisture level or use a moisture meter.
Water your bird of paradise if the soil feels almost dry.
Remember, an outdoor bird of paradise will require more water than an indoor one.
2. Low humidity
The bird of paradise is a tropical plant, which means it loves humidity.
It requires around 70% humidity to remain healthy and happy.
Providing such high humidity might not seem practical.
And when plant owners neglect this aspect, the plant starts facing problems and shows signs like curling leaves.
The leaves curl to prevent the loss of the remaining moisture they have.
In this case, you will also notice inward curling, like underwatering or downward curling.
If you think the humidity is the issue behind the curling leaves on your bird of paradise, a humidity monitor can help you detect that.
If the humidity levels are low, here are a few options.
You can choose any one of these to provide humidity to your bird of paradise:
- Use a humidifier. Keep it near your bird of paradise and adjust the humidity level according to your plant’s preference.
- Group your bird of paradise with other plants you have in the house. But make sure all the birds are humidity-loving. Grouping plants together increases the humidity levels when the plants transpire.
- Mist your bird of paradise. Make sure you mist in the morning or day so it can get absorbed by the plant and the rest can evaporate. We do not want water to sit on the leaves for too long.
- If you have an aquarium, placing the bird of paradise near it can be a good idea. As the aquarium’s water evaporates, it will increase the humidity levels in that area.
- Use a pebble tray. Take a tray and add some pebbles to it. Now, add water and place the pot on top of those pebbles. As the water evaporates from the tray, your bird of paradise will get more humidity.
Also read: Do Bird Of Paradise Like Misting?
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3. Overwatering and root rot
This may come as a surprise, but if your bird of paradise is overwatered and experiencing root rot, curling and yellowing leaves can be one of the early signs.
Therefore, check the soil to understand if this is the case.
If the soil feels wet, overwatering is the cause of curling leaves.
You might also notice standing water on the soil.
Thank God if your bird of paradise has not reached the root rot stage of overwatering.
Check the roots to understand this.
Take the plant out of the pot, and remove the soil from the roots to check the condition.
If the roots are healthy, they will look white and crisp.
You can either allow the soil to get dry and then repot the plant back or put the plant in the soil and place it in a bright spot so the soil can dry out.
However, if the roots look mushy and brown, you will need to follow these steps:
- Take a sharp and sterilized pruner and remove the affected roots. Do not cut the roots that are still healthy.
- Now, spray a fungicide on the roots, so they don’t get affected by the root rot fungus.
- Dispose of the old soil and prepare a new one by mixing potting soil and coco coir.
- Take a new pot, add the new soil mix, and repot your bird of paradise in it.
Remove the damaged leaves, as they won’t turn healthy again.
If you want to prevent this, always use a moisture meter or do a finger test before watering your plants.
Never water a plant that already has moist soil.
4. Poor water quality
One neglected aspect of plant care is water quality.
Many enthusiasts water their plants with regular tap water without understanding that it contains minerals like sulfur and chlorine that are unsuitable for plants.
If you are not using good quality water, the curling leaves you see on your bird of paradise might be a sign.
If you are using regular tap water on your bird of paradise, try these next time:
- Collect rainwater and use that to water your bird of paradise.
- Use filtered water if that is available.
- If there is no option besides tap water, collect it in a bucket and leave it overnight. This will reduce the mineral content, and you can use it on the plant.
Remove all the curling leaves before you start using these, and after changing the water, check if the plant shows curling leaves again.
Fertilizing is an important aspect of plant care, but that doesn’t mean:
More fertilization = More growth.
If you are a beginner at growing plants, you might make the mistake of overfertilizing the plant, thinking it will be good for it.
Instead, your plant’s health starts to deteriorate, and you start seeing signs like curled leaves.
If your bird of paradise has been overfertilized, you may notice a crusty layer on the soil in addition to curling leaves.
You will also notice brown spots or edges on the leaves.
Here’s what you can do:
- Scrape the soil with a layer of white crust.
- If the plant is over-affected, consider repotting it in fresh potting mix.
- Use a 10:10:10 NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium) fertilizer to fertilize your bird of paradise every 2 weeks during the growing season. Reduce the frequency to once a month in winter.
- If you use granular fertilizer for your outdoor bird of paradise, fertilize every 3 months.
Also read: Do You Need To Fertilize Bird Of Paradise?
The Bird of Paradise is a tropical bird that prefers moderate temperatures.
It neither needs too much heat nor does it prefer too much cold.
If your bird of paradise is exposed to extreme heat, the leaves will start curling as a defense mechanism.
Similarly, if it is too cold, the leaves start curling again and eventually fall off.
Sudden temperature changes can also affect your bird of paradise.
If you think this is the issue, look around the plant.
- If you have placed your bird of paradise near a heat source like the furnace or fireplace, move it away.
- If your bird of paradise is exposed to the cold air of the AC, move it away.
- If it is placed near any door or window that is opened and closed frequently, move it from there.
- Do not expose the plant to drafts.
Also read: Where To Place Bird Of Paradise Indoors?
7. Too much sun
Birds of paradise love the sun, but if it is too much or too intense, it will become an issue.
If your bird of paradise is exposed to the scorching direct sunlight of the afternoons, especially during the summer, it will start curling its leaves as a defense mechanism.
It will also get dehydrated, and you will see discolored and falling leaves and stunted growth.
You can fix this by moving your bird of paradise to a better location where it will get enough light but not be exposed to extreme light and heat.
Remove the curled and damaged leaves.
And give enough water to the plant so it can recover.
8. Rootbound plant
A little rootbound benefits your bird of paradise because it promotes blooming.
But, if the plant gets too rootbound, it won’t remain healthy.
As the roots start getting tangled, they will fail to absorb water or nutrients from the soil, making the plant weak and unhealthy.
Again, the leaves will curl as a defense mechanism.
If your bird of paradise is rootbound, follow these:
- Take the bird of paradise out of the pot.
- If it is rootbound, taking it out will not be easy. You can use a knife and run it along the sides of the pot to make it easy for the plant to come out.
- You can also water the plant a day before taking it out.
- After taking it out, you will need to untangle the roots. You can do it with your hands and use a knife if required.
- Once you’ve done that, take a pot one size bigger than the previous one. And repot your bird of paradise in it.
To prevent your bird of paradise from going rootbound, repot it every 2 years in a pot 2-4″ bigger than the previous one.
Also read: Do Bird Of Paradise Like To Be Root Bound?
Although this doesn’t usually happen, if your bird of paradise is not getting enough fertilization, it can show curled leaves as a sign of nutrient deficiency.
This can occur if you do not fertilize your bird of paradise or maintain an irregular schedule.
Prune the curled leaves and allow the plant to focus on new growth.
10. Pest infestation
Pests are another reason that causes curling leaves on birds of paradise plants.
Pests like spider mites, thrips, mealybugs, and scales can attack your Strelitzia stems and leaves and suck the sap, which contains all the nutrients, out of it and make the leaves curl.
If you bring an unhealthy plant home or if the plant is exposed to the wrong conditions, pests will attack it.
If your bird of paradise has pests, try these:
- Handpick the pests that are visible.
- Consider pruning the areas that are heavily infested with clean pruning shears.
- Use a neem oil spray to get rid of the pests.
- You can also use a pesticide if the pests don’t disappear.
Ensure that your bird of paradise has the proper conditions so that pests do not attack again.
Also read: Do Birds Of Paradise Attract Bugs?
11. Repotting shock
One common reason behind curling leaves is a repotting or transplant shock.
It is common for plants to go through some stress after being repotted as they are exposed to a new environment.
Don’t get too worried.
Give your bird of paradise some time to recover from the shock.
And provide the right growing conditions too.
Aging is a common phenomenon that makes the leaves of your bird of paradise dry up, curl, and fall off.
Again, there is nothing to worry about here as long as you see new leaves growing.
The curling of leaves is a sign from your bird of paradise that something is wrong with it. I freaked out the first time I saw it, but you don’t need to, as I have explained all the possible causes and their fixes in this article.
Once you identify the exact problem, you can easily fix it. Keep an eye out for problems and ensure the plant grows under the right conditions. Remember, any plant that gets the right conditions for growth is less likely to develop any issues.
Will curled bird of paradise leaves uncurl?
Yes. If your bird of paradise has curled leaves due to issues like underwatering or low humidity, it will uncurl when it starts getting the right conditions.
How often should you water a Bird of Paradise?
Water your bird of paradise whenever the soil feels almost dry. On average, water the bird of paradise once every 1-2 weeks.