Bird of Paradise is considered the queen of the indoor plant world. It is large and upright but still takes little floor space. It is closely related to the banana plant and is named after a tropical bird with the same name.
Give the bird of paradise plant 6-8 hours of sunlight, water it every 1-2 weeks, and fertilize it every 2 weeks. Plant it in rich, well-drained soil, maintaining 60-70% humidity and 65-85°F temperature. With these basic needs, it can fight challenges like yellow or brown leaves and infestations.
Growing this queen is exciting, and once you grow it successfully, you will be a proud plant parent. This article will take you through a detailed care guide about Bird of Paradise and some troubleshooting tips for common issues the plant may encounter.
Table Of Contents
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Birds of Paradise: Overview
The Birds of Paradise, also called Strelitzia, is a well-known tropical flowering plant closely related to the banana plant.
It is also called a Crane flower.
It is native to South Africa and mostly grown outdoors in warm climates.
However, people prefer growing them indoors for their attractive leaves and unique flowers.
The plant flower in the late winter or early spring.
The Bird of Paradise is easier to grow than most other tropical houseplants.
With the proper care, it will flourish.
Birds of Paradise have large straight leaves growing from the soil with no trunk.
The leaves measure around 12-18 inches long.
The leaves sometimes split during windy weather or when it brushes against a busy hallway.
The plant grows around 5-6 feet tall and needs 3-5 years to mature and flower.
The flower grows from the rhizomes and reaches a height of 1 to 1.5 meters with straight leather-like, concave, and oblong foliage.
The leaves are bluish-green with a red midrib.
The flowers are orange and blue with two straight petals and five stamens.
Though Birds of Paradise is mainly grown for its attractive leaves and flowers, it can be beneficial in multiple ways when you grow them indoors:
- The plant can help purify the air by absorbing the harmful benzene and formaldehyde. They cause allergies, irritation, and cancer.
- Birds of Paradise reduce anxiety and stress and improve sleep.
- Birds of Paradise increases the productivity of the surrounding environment.
- Birds of Paradise is a highly low-maintenance plant. So, you can grow them if you want attractive houseplants but want to invest less time in them.
- Birds of Paradise increases good feng shui in your house. Due to its long green and luscious leaves and natural growth, it brings positivity to your house. I have one in the drawing room.
- Birds of Paradise is a natural soundproofing plant that reduces ambient noise by absorbing the sound waves through its ample green foliage and stems.
Are Birds of Paradise easy to grow?
Birds of Paradise are easy to grow. Once you become accustomed to the proper care tips, you can grow them quickly in your house.
Since the Birds of Paradise is a low-maintenance plant, you can grow them as a beginner.
Taking care of them regularly and giving them their basic needs will help them thrive in the long run.
Are Birds of Paradise indoor or outdoor plants?
Generally, Birds of Paradise is considered an indoor plant.
You can also grow them outdoors.
The plant is mainly grown indoors for its attractive leaves and flowers and the health benefits it provides.
You can also grow them outdoors if given the right environment.
It doesn’t matter where you grow them.
The plant will thrive anywhere if you provide them with primary care tips.
Read on to learn how to care for them and troubleshoot the common issues they might face.
Birds of Paradise varieties
Birds of Paradise has a wide range of varieties.
Most of them share the same care tips but differ only in appearance.
Some common varieties are:
- Royal Strelitzia (Strelitzia Reginae)
- White Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia nicolai)
- Strelitzia White or Alba (Strelitzia Augusta)
- Mountain Strelitzia or Wild Banana (Strelitzia caudata)
- Narrow-leaved Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia Juncea)
- Red Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia pulcherrima)
- Mexican Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia mexicana)
- Yellow Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia gilliesii)
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Birds of Paradise Care Guide
Birds of Paradise is native to South Africa and resembles the bird with the same name.
Growing the plant is relatively easy, and you can grow them indoors and outdoors if you know the correct care guide.
Here is a detailed guide about the plant’s basic requirements:
The Bird of Paradise is a hardy plant that needs 6-8 hours of sunlight daily.
The intensity of the sunlight should be medium, around 400-500 foot candles.
The plant thrives in bright sunlight, but some shade from the direct sunlight of the afternoon protects it from sunburns.
Begin with keeping the plant under the direct sun for 3-4 hours in the morning, and bring it inside when the sunlight intensifies.
Letting the plant stay under direct sunlight for a long time leads to leaf burns, curly leaves, yellowing, and brown edges.
The afternoon sun, especially in the summer, is harmful.
Also, check that the plant does not receive excessive low-light conditions.
Otherwise, the plant will grow slowly and won’t flower.
The watering routine for the Bird of Paradise is one of the most critical things because it depends on various factors like the season, the amount of light it receives, soil type, and many more.
For example, if the plant receives too much sunlight, it will need frequent watering.
On the contrary, less light will encourage infrequent watering.
Generally, a standard plant watering routine is every 1-2 weeks.
Reduce watering in the winter.
The soil must be consistently moist.
So, the best method is to check the soil’s moisture level with your finger.
If the top 1-inch feels moist, the plant is ready to take water.
If it feels wet, wait some more days.
Otherwise, you will end up with overwatering and root rot.
If you are new to gardening, try self-watering pots.
These pots have a reservoir from which the plant receives the water per its needs.
Signs like dry yellow leaves, wilted leaves, and dry soil indicate that you do not water the plant well.
So, always ensure the soil remains moist and not damp.
Always use distilled water, filtered water, or rainwater for these plants.
Morning is the best time to water the plant, as it will have the entire day to absorb the needed water slowly.
The rest will evaporate.
Always use room temperature water and avoid watering the leaves.
The Bird of Paradise requires rich, loamy, well-drained soil for adequate growth.
The pH level of the soil should be around 5.5 to 7.5.
You will encounter issues like yellow leaves and curling if you choose the wrong soil, like tight and clayey.
The plant faces overwatering and root rot issues.
If you have mistakenly used soil with bad drainage, amend it by adding porous materials like sawdust, gypsum, compost, bark, and mulch.
If the pH gets messed up, use lime, crushed eggshells, wood ash, or baking soda to increase the pH level, and sulfur or compost to reduce it.
Use a pH tester to check the soil.
Ideal soil mixes
I used more than one recipe.
I love to experiment, and thus, here are three ideal soil recipes I prefer for my Bird of Paradise.
- 50% each of potting soil and peat moss
- 2 parts coco coir, 1 part compost, 1 part perlite, and 1 part bark
- 2 parts peat moss, 1 part perlite, 1 part compost, 2 cups sand, and 2 tbsp limestone
Several factors determine the fertilization of a Bird of Paradise, for example, the season, the fertilizer type, the soil type, and the plant variety.
The right type of fertilizer for the Bird of Paradise is a balanced liquid fertilizer.
I prefer a liquid fertilizer with a 10-10-10 NPK value.
Fertilizing the plant every two weeks encourages vigorous and healthy growth.
In the winter, the plant will either grow slowly or become dormant.
In that case, you should reduce feeding them.
Beginners make common mistakes like overfeeding, underfeeding, and fertilizing at the wrong time.
Our fertilizer article explains everything about fertilizing the Bird of Paradise in detail.
The Bird of Paradise is a tropical plant native to South Africa.
So, it needs warm and humid weather conditions for ideal growth.
In the wild, the Bird of Paradise used to survive temperatures up to 100°F.
But it will differ when you grow it as a houseplant.
Indoors, the ideal temperature for the plant will be around 65-85°F in warm weather during the day and 55-65°F at night.
Despite being a tropical plant, it can tolerate cold temperatures as low as 24°F but won’t last long.
Below this range, the plant will suffer from stunted growth, root rot, and no blooms.
During the winter, keep your plant in the south-facing window in the morning to let it have bright sun.
Bring it away from the windows or balcony in the evening to avoid cold drafts.
Try to keep the temperatures around 60°F or above in winter indoors.
Since the Bird of Paradise belongs to the tropical regions of South Africa, it will require high humidity levels to thrive.
When growing them indoors, try to mimic their native environment to convince them they are in their native land.
60% to 70% humidity is ideal for the Bird of Paradise inside the house.
Use a hygrometer to determine the humidity level of your house.
The best option is to add a humidifier to increase the humidity.
Other options include:
- Grouping tropical plants that love high humidity
- Keeping water tanks, water bowls, or aquariums around the plant
- Using the pebble tray method
- Using moss poles
- Using a humidifier
Pruning Birds of Paradise
Since the plant has lovely foliage and colorful flowers, many house owners want to avoid pruning the leaves.
But, pruning the Bird of Paradise can be beneficial in multiple ways, new growth being the major.
Pruning the dry and discolored foliage, damaged stems, and dead flowers encourages new leaves and flowers.
Letting these damaged stems, leaves, and dead flowers persist, they will constantly use the plant’s energy to come back to life and slowly wither the plant.
Pruning also allows the plant to be in shape.
Seeing the plant grow taller is fascinating, but you should keep its growth in control as an indoor plant.
Once it begins to grow tall, you cannot control it. So, prune it from time to time to maintain its shape.
Spring and fall are the best times to prune the plant because these are the growing seasons.
After pruning, the plant will have new growth quickly.
Though the frequency of pruning depends on the plant’s condition, 2 times per year is enough.
For bigger plants, 3-4 times will be enough.
To prune the plant, sterilize the tools, locate the damaged parts and cut them clean close to the base at a 45-degree angle.
Repotting Birds of Paradise
When the plant grows big, the roots, too, will increase.
Without enough space, the plant will get overcrowded and rootbound.
Rootbound means the roots begin to grow in circular motions and sometimes peek through the soil surface due to lack of space.
Repotting the plant will give your plant roots space to grow, spread, and breathe freely.
If you don’t repot, the roots will suffocate, and the plant will stop growing.
A slightly rootbound plant is fine, but extreme rootbound is harmful.
The Bird of Paradise is quite a fast grower if provided with the proper care tips.
The plant can become 5-6 feet high within five years and spread around 3-5 feet.
So, repot every 1.5-2 years in the springtime.
Before that, check for some rootbound signs, for example:
- Roots peeking through the soil surface or drainage holes
- Stunted growth in the plant
- Leaves drooping and fading
- Packed or swollen pot
To repot the Bird of Paradise:
- Gather the necessary tools like cutting shears, rubbing alcohol, a new pot, and other garden tools.
- Slowly remove the plant from the pot by tapping the sides and edges to loosen the soil. To ease it out, water the plant a few days before repotting.
- Use your fingers or a soft brush to remove as much old soil as possible from the roots.
- Check the root condition. The white and firm roots are fine, and the brown and squashy roots are rotten. Remove the damaged roots and apply some fungicides to prevent infections.
- Make a new soil mix. You can try the soil mix recipes shared in the Soil Requirement point.
- Take a new pot and fill half of the pot with the potting mix.
- Place the plant at the center, spread the roots, and add the remaining potting soil.
- Water the soil gently and let 20-25% of the soil’s surface dry before the next watering.
- For some time, refrain from using fertilizers. Since the potting mix will be new, it will contain the necessary nutrients. Once the plant adjusts to the new environment, you can fertilize it.
- Provide the plant with proper sunlight, temperature, and humidity. Avoid anything too excessive or too little.
Bird of Paradise propagation
Propagating Bird of Paradise allows you to receive more plants.
So, if you love growing these plants, consider propagation instead of buying them.
Propagating the Bird of Paradise is done by division or by seeds.
Propagating the Bird of Paradise through division is quick and easy, yet complicated because you need to make a proper cutting.
I have grown a few Birds of Paradise through cutting and also gave a cutting to one of my friends.
Take plant cuttings in the early spring by cutting a piece of rhizome from which more rhizomes and stems will sprout.
The rhizomes resemble large horizontal tubers joined with roots and leaf fans.
The cut should be clean, and the division must have complete stems and healthy rhizome parts to keep the division strong after the cutting.
Each cutting should have a living fan with linked Bird of Paradise roots that are not dry.
Add some rooting hormone over the open-cut area of the division to encourage faster root growth.
Put the cutting into a good-quality growing medium.
Allow the plant to heal for a few days, and then start watering.
The cuttings will develop roots and new leaf growth after 2 weeks.
Since the plant will bloom, you can receive seeds for propagation.
The seeds will be in the seedpods, which will be visible 5 months after hand-pollinating the flowers, and each pod will have 60-80 seeds.
Once the flower has dried, cut open the seed pods and collect the seeds.
The seeds will be black with a vivid orange fuzz at the top, matching the color of the bloom.
The seed surface is rigid. So, pretreat the seeds before germinating by soaking them in tepid water for 24-48 hours.
After that, remove the orange fuzz and nick them from the connected tufts with a sharp knife.
Sow them ½ to 1 inch deep in a wet, loose, clean growing medium in the pot or tray.
Mist and cover the soil until you see them sprouting.
The seeds need indirect sunlight, 75°F temperature, and high humidity for germination.
Once the seeds sprout after 8 weeks, plant them in a sunny location with well-drained soil.
Note: Bird of Paradise does not propagate well in water. The leaves and stems do not develop roots or rhizomes in water after cutting.
Bird of Paradise toxicity
Being a parent of Bird of Paradise and pets was risky because Bird of Paradise is considered toxic.
Since I own a pet, I had to research its toxicity before growing them.
Every part of the plant is toxic for pets.
The flowers and seeds have tannin.
Consuming these parts can cause gastric issues.
The leaves have hydrocyanic acid that can cause health issues.
However, the toxicity level is lower unless consumed in a vast amount.
When your pet consumes the plant parts, it will have some toxicity symptoms, like:
- Appetite loss
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Swelling in the throat
To prevent your pets from swallowing Bird of Paradise and stop the toxicity:
- Keep the plant out of the pets’ reach, like somewhere high or in a room where pets are not allowed.
- Sprinkle some mustard powder to keep the dogs at bay.
- Apply cat-repellent, orange peels, and coffee grounds, and sprinkle them around the plant.
- Use toys to distract the pets’ attention.
- Monitor the pets’ behavior and check for symptoms if you suspect they have swallowed it
- If you ever find any such signs, immediately take your pet to the vet
Bird of Paradise problems
Your Bird of Paradise will flourish in the long run with the care tips shared above.
Despite following these care tips, the plant may face typical challenges like yellow leaves, brown leaves, drooping, stunted growth, or brown edges.
Beginners are more prone to having these issues in their new Bird of Paradise plant.
This section discusses the common issues the plant may face and how to encounter them:
Yellow leaves in the Bird of Paradise plant mean you have overwatered or underwatered the plant.
Other common reasons might be:
- Low humidity
- Pest infestation
- Fungal diseases
If you find yellow leaves in your Bird of Paradise:
- First, remove the damaged leaves as they won’t revive to green.
- Identify the right problem.
- If the problem is watering, check the soil. Always check the soil’s moisture level and wait until the top 1-2 inches have dried.
- If the plant receives direct sunlight, move it to a partially shaded area and see if it revives.
- If you suspect over-fertilization, wait a few weeks to fertilize the plant.
- For fungal diseases, isolate your plant, remove the leaves, and treat it with a fungicide.
- For low humidity issues, add a humidifier to your room.
Browning is another common issue.
The primary reasons are underwatering and low humidity.
Check the moisture level of the soil regularly.
If you feel the top few inches have dried, water the plant.
If you are forgetful about watering, try self-watering pots.
The water in the reservoir will take care of the watering.
You only need to check and fill up the reservoir.
Since the Bird of Paradise is a tropical plant, it will enjoy high humidity, at least around 60%.
Installing a humidifier is the best option.
Other options are:
- Pebble trays
- Water tanks or bowls around the plant
- Grouping high-humidity plants
Sometimes, the leaves have brown edges due to excessive sunlight.
If your plant is under the sunlight, shift it to a partial-shade location and monitor its reaction.
If sunlight was the issue, the plant should revive.
If the leaves of the Bird of Paradise are curly, expect:
- Excessive direct sunlight
- Low humidity
- Nutrient deficiency
- Pest infestation
Since there are many reasons, you should try everything possible to fix it.
First, remove the curly leaves from your plant, and then try the following troubleshooting tips:
- Begin with shifting the plant from direct sunlight to a partially shaded location. Wait for some time to see if the leaves have stopped curling.
- If the leaves are still curling, check the soil and water the plant if it feels scorched. Wait for some time to see the plant’s reaction. If the plant revives back, well and good. Otherwise, check for the next thing.
- Check the indoor humidity with a hygrometer, and add a humidifier to fix the humidity level. It should be at least 60-70%, especially in the winter.
- If you suspect a nutrient deficiency, test the soil for nutrients and fertilize your plant with a balanced liquid fertilizer.
- Check the leaves to look for pest infestation. If you locate any, remove the infected leaves, and add some neem oil to treat and prevent infestation.
If your Bird of Paradise is drooping, the problem could be a lack of sunlight, watering issues, or transplant shock.
Sunlight is essential. Without sufficient light, the photosynthesis, transpiration, and water absorption rate reduces, and the growth gets compromised.
As a result, the turgor pressure in the plant reduces and results in drooping.
So, ensure the plant receives at least 6-8 hours of light daily.
Without enough water, the plant will lose strength and start drooping.
At the same time, excessive water suffocates the roots, and the plant fails to absorb the given water and ends up drooping.
Check the soil’s moisture level before watering.
It should be consistent.
When you decide to water the plant, the top few inches should be dry, but the bottom few inches should be moist.
If your plant begins to droop right after the recent repotting, it is a shock.
Wait for some time for the plant to adjust to the new environment.
Keep caring for the plant as you used to, and avoid anything excessive.
No growth in the plant
The plant will require the basic requirements for optimal growth.
Without that, it won’t grow as per your expectations.
Water, light, and nutrition are the three basic needs for proper growth.
Without them, the plant won’t develop.
So, make sure that the plant receives enough sunlight.
Water the plant whenever the top few inches have dried, and fertilize them every 2-3 weeks with a liquid fertilizer.
If you have recently repotted your plant, seeing no growth is fine.
It happens due to the transplant shock.
Continue caring for the plant; it will revive once it is adjusted to the new environment.
Also, check for pest infestations.
Apply neem oil to stop them from spreading.
The common reasons behind root rot are compact soil with lousy drainage and overwatering.
The soil for the Bird of Paradise should be well-drained.
Otherwise, the water you add will stay stagnant in the soil around the roots, suffocate them, and ultimately rot them.
If the soil is well-drained, give your plant time to absorb the water.
If you keep watering without letting the soil dry, the roots will be suffocated with so much water and end up rotting.
So, the rule is to wait until the top few inches have dried.
Check the moisture level with your finger and water when needed.
As for the soil, add sawdust, gypsum, compost, bark, and mulch to improve drainage.
Also, ensure the pot contains enough drainage holes to drain the excess water.
To fix a plant with root rot, take the plant out, remove the damaged roots, apply some fungicide, and repot it to a new pot.
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The plant responds to physical stress by splitting leaves in the Bird of Paradise.
Provide good nutrition, bright indirect sunlight, and correct watering.
The leaves become dry, brittle, and more vulnerable to splitting and damage without water.
If the soil is dry, water the plant immediately.
Lack of humidity is another issue.
At least 60-70% humidity is needed for optimal growth.
See the plant’s location and check whether it is receiving direct sunlight.
The plant loves sunlight, but it should be bright, not direct.
Shift it to a partially shaded area.
With the plant’s size, you can guess that it is a hungry plant.
So, proper nutrition is crucial for its health.
Especially in larger plants, boron deficiency can lead to splitting.
Apply a dose of balanced liquid fertilizer every 2 weeks in the warm parts of the year.
Bird of Paradise pests
More or less, all the plants are prone to pest infestation if conditions are ideal for them.
Birds of Paradise can also attract bugs.
Despite being hardy plants, they are disturbed by several pests:
- Spider mites
- Leaf borers
Keeping the plant healthy is the only key to preventing bugs.
If you find signs of infestation in your plant, take the following steps to treat your plant:
- When bugs attack your Bird of Paradise, you will have curly or discolored leaves, defoliation, or distorted leaves. When you notice these signs, scrutinize your plant, mainly the underside. You will see them hiding under the leaves.
- Isolate the plant immediately to avoid the infestation from spreading. Bugs can quickly spread and damage other plants nearby.
- If the leaves are badly injured, prune these leaves with a sterilized knife or pruners.
- If the infestation is small, spray the plant with your garden hose with slight force. It will dislodge the bugs from the leaves.
- Use neem oil, horticulture oil, rubbing alcohol, insecticides, and natural pesticides to kill them. Please read our article DO BIRDS OF PARADISE ATTRACT BUGS to learn how to use them in detail.
- Check your plant regularly to see if the infestation increases.
The best way to protect your plant from pest infestation is prevention.
Here are some preventive measures:
- Always bring a healthy plant home. Examine the plant closely to see if it is healthy or infested. Avoid buying plants with discolored, curly, or limp leaves.
- Give your plant the basic needs regularly.
- Keep your plant isolated from the other plants for some weeks. It will let you know how your plant is doing and give you an idea about whether to add it to others.
- Maintain the proper temperatures and enough humidity around your plant.
- Use neem oil every 15-30 days by misting. It will keep the humidity in check and prevent bugs from crawling around it.
- Avoid over-fertilizing and overwatering the plant.
- Get rid of the spent flowers and leaves.
Bird of Paradise diseases
Our admiration for the Bird of Paradise turns to stress and concern when the plant gets affected by diseases.
As plant parents, we always panic for its long-term health and survival.
But thankfully, there are ways to fight these diseases.
Knowing the correct methods to fight diseases is the only way to increase this beautiful plant’s lifespan.
Common diseases are:
Armillaria Root Rot
Primary symptoms are necrotic roots, rotting, shoot wilting, dying, and thinning.
Sometimes, light brown mushrooms, white mycelium, and black strings of fungal tissues will be visible.
One solution is to discard the old soil and pot, remove the damaged roots, and repot the plant with a new pot and soil mix.
Symptoms are wilted leaves and stems, leaf desiccation, cankers above the crown, and root rot.
If the plant is slightly infected, isolate it, remove the infested leaves, and spray some fungicide.
If the plant is badly diseased, throw the infected plant to prevent spreading. Remove the adjacent soil at the root depth.
The bacteria Ralstonia solanacearum can thrive in the soil for 2 years.
Also called gray mold, the disease spreads rapidly and damages the flowers.
Symptoms include distorted development and brown buds and floral tissues.
These pathogens thrive best in damp weather with 63-73°F temperatures.
Since the disease spreads quickly through the dead botanical detritus, quarantine the plant, and remove the damaged parts and the debris from around the plant.
Avoid overhead watering or overwatering and over-fertilizing.
Apply copper fungicides every 10 days before the spores form in spring.
Fungal Leaf Spot
The disease is common and less dangerous.
The symptoms include dark leaf spots over the leaves that spread and merge into larger blotches.
It can further cause leaf stress, chlorosis, and premature defoliation.
Clean up the debris, avoid overhead watering, and isolate the plant.
Apply some fungicide every 10-14 days whenever you notice the signs of disease.
Pythium Root Rot
Caused by the soil-borne species of Pythium genus, the disease stays in the growing medium and plant materials.
Over time, the plant growth will slow down, the tissues will turn yellow, and the entire plant will die.
Avoid overly-saturated growing medium and roots and over-fertilization.
Isolate the plant and try treating it with fungicides.
Birds of Paradise are lovely plants with beautiful flowers.
Caring for the plant is relatively easy.
Give the plant bright sunlight for 6-8 hours, water them every 1-2 weeks, fertilize with a balanced liquid fertilizer every 2 weeks, and use rich, loamy, well-drained soil.
Though the plant can endure temperatures as high as 100°F and as low as 24°F, the ideal one for indoor plants is 65-85°F. Maintain 60-70% of humidity.
Prune the plant whenever you see them overcrowded in the spring.
Repot the plant every two years when you see rootbound signs.
For more plants, propagate it through cuttings and seeds.
Since the plants are toxic, keep the plants out of your pets’ reach.
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