Birds of paradise like to stay in moist soil, but providing too much water can cause severe damage. Check for wilted, drooped, yellow, brown, and crunchy leaves to know if your plant is overwatered.
To save an overwatered bird of paradise plant, you must first avoid watering the plant until the soil dries completely. Move the plant to a well-ventilated area. If there are severe damage signs, repot the plant by trimming all damaged roots and planting it in a new pot with fresh potting mix.
This article will help you understand the causes of overwatering and the solutions to save your overwatered Bird of paradise. Let’s begin.
Table Of Contents
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Understanding the symptoms of overwatering in Birds of paradise
Before we understand how to save an overwatered bird of paradise, we need to know how to identify the signs of an overwatered plant.
When I started my journey as a plant parent, I overwatered so many plants that I don’t think I will make this mistake again.
However, it is possible to overwater a new plant if you are just starting out or even an experienced plant parent.
But if you can catch the signs on time, you can save the plant before it dies.
1. Yellow leaves
If your Bird of paradise leaves are turning yellow, especially the bottom leaves, the reason is most likely overwatering.
This happens when the plant doesn’t get nutrients because of the damaged root system.
Note: Yellow leaves can also occur due to other reasons.
For example, excessive light, overfertilization, pests, diseases, etc.
So, you must also investigate other symptoms for confirmation.
2. Brown leaves
Underwatering and overwatering can both be indicated by brown leaves.
In the case of underwatering, the leaf’s edges and tips turn brown with a crispy and dry texture.
In cases of overwatering, the leaves will show brown edges and tips with a yellow line in the veins.
This is a clear sign of overwatering.
3. Drooping or wilting of leaves
Drooping or wilting leaves are an obvious sign of overwatering.
As the root system becomes unhealthy because of overwatering, hydrostatic pressure doesn’t occur.
The Bird of paradise becomes extremely weak, causing drooping or wilting of the leaves.
4. Wet soil
If you water your Bird of paradise in a massive volume at once, the soil can become extremely wet, creating a waterlogging condition.
Normally, the top 2 to 3 inches of soil dry out easily within 1 to 2 weeks after watering.
But if you notice it’s still soggy, it is clear that the plant is undergoing overwatering.
5. Rotten smell
If you notice a rotten smell coming from the soil, this is a symptom of overwatering.
This happens because of root rot disease.
Due to wet conditions, various fungal diseases and infections grow inside the soil, causing root rot.
Due to this, a rotten smell starts to come out of the soil, which indicates overwatering.
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6. Splitting of leaves
Leaf splitting is quite common in the Bird of paradise.
It helps this plant survive the windy climate.
But if you notice the leaves are splitting excessively, it can be because of overwatering.
It happens mainly due to stress.
You will mostly notice the splitting of brown or yellow leaves.
7. Moldy soil surface
White dusty mold on the soil surface also indicates overwatering.
This happens when the soil remains damp for a prolonged period without treatment.
This allows the powdery mildew and fungal molds to develop.
The causes of overwatering and root rot
It is also important to know the causes of overwatering as that will help you identify where you are going wrong.
1. Watering too much
This is the most obvious cause of overwatering.
Bird of paradise loves to stay in moist soil, but it doesn’t mean you should let the plant sit in water for too long.
Even if the soil is well-draining or the pot has a good drainage system, you should never water the plant too frequently.
Always check 2 to 3 inches of topsoil before watering the plant.
2. Bad soil drainage
If the Bird of paradise grows in tight and compact soil, then overwatering can occur frequently.
Poor drainage soil has a high clay content, so it doesn’t let the water drain properly from the drainage holes.
Due to this, the soil stays wet for a longer period of time.
3. Lack of drainage holes
Pots with no drainage holes are one of the main causes of overwatering issues.
Even though you use well-drained soil, the pot with few drainage holes will not let the water drain.
Both the pot and the soil should have proper drainage to avoid overwatering.
Try to use terracotta pots as it absorbs the excess moisture.
Also, always check whether the pot has proper drainage holes before buying.
If not, you can drill holes at the bottom before using the pots.
4. Watering during winter
The watering requirement of the plant depends completely on the environment.
Watering excessively during winter can cause frequent overwatering due to low transpiration rates.
The Bird of paradise needs to be watered more during summer and spring.
On the other hand, you should avoid frequent watering during winter.
5. Getting rid of pests using water
Many wash off pests from their plants with the help of water.
Due to this reason, the plant might get nonessential water even if the soil is already wet.
This increases the chance of overwatering issues and root rot disease.
Instead of washing the pests off with water, you can wipe them off with the help of cotton balls by dipping them in water or neem oil.
The dangers of overwatering to the health of the Bird of paradise
Here are the dangers of overwatering your Bird of paradise.
1. Root rot disease
Root rot is the most common danger which can occur due to overwatering.
When the Bird of paradise stays in the water for an extremely long period, it doesn’t allow any oxygen to flow around the soil, and the roots suffocate.
This allows various fungal infections to develop inside the soil, such as pythium, phytophthora, and Rhizoctonia, and the roots start to decay.
Root rot can also kill the entire plant if not treated on time.
The only option to retrieve the Bird of paradise is to repot it to a whole new pot with fresh soil after trimming the damaged roots.
2. Plant becomes dehydrated
You’re mistaken if you think overwatering the Bird of paradise will keep it hydrated and healthy.
When the plant is overwatered, the roots become unhealthy due to a lack of oxygen.
Due to this, the roots can no longer transfer water and nutrients to other parts, causing dehydration.
This makes the plant extremely weak and non-functioning.
3. Attracts pests and diseases
Damp conditions attract various kinds of pests and diseases.
Once the Bird of paradise becomes prone to pests, it sucks out the sap from the plant, leaving it extremely weak.
4. Washes off fertilizers
Fertilizers play a very important role in providing important nutrients to the Bird of paradise.
But watering the plant too frequently can wash off the necessary fertilizers.
Because of this, the plant becomes weak due to a lack of nutrients, and you will also notice stunted growth.
5. The plant may die
If overwatering is not treated for a longer period, it can threaten the plant’s life.
Birds of paradise can die due to the dangers of overwatering, such as root rot, lack of nutrients, lack of oxygen supply, pests, diseases, lack of water in the plant’s part, etc.
So, it is always better to treat the plant immediately after inspecting the signs of overwatering.
How to assess the condition of the overwatered Bird of paradise?
Understanding the condition of the Bird of paradise is crucial because, based on that, you will decide the treatment of the Bird of paradise.
1. Checking the soil moisture levels
You can check the moisture level of the soil by inserting a finger.
Insert your index finger about 2-3 inches into the soil and see whether it is dry or soggy.
You can also use a moisture meter to examine the level. It also gives you an accurate result.
If you feel it’s soggy, the condition of the overwatered Bird of paradise is quite poor.
2. Examining the roots for signs of damage or decay
To check the damage to your plant due to overwatering, you must inspect the condition of the roots.
The rotten smell is the first indication of the poor condition.
But if you want to examine it properly, take the plant out of the pot to see the roots’ condition.
If roots have turned mushy, brown, or black, the situation is severe and needs to be treated instantly.
3. Evaluating the overall health of the plant
Check the condition of the Bird of paradise properly.
If your plant is showing signs of overwatering, such as yellow, brown, drooped, wilted, splitting leaves along with wet soil and rotten smell, then the condition of your plant is very serious.
Even if you notice at least one sign, you should never wait until the situation worsens.
Always take immediate action.
Steps for saving an overwatered Bird of Paradise
After you’ve read the signs and understood the amount of damage, it is time to save your Bird of paradise.
Let’s see how we can do it.
1. To save a moderately overwatered bird of paradise
If the situation is not very serious, saving the overwatered Bird of paradise will not be a big issue.
Here you will not have to treat the roots as it is not damaged yet.
Now, let’s discuss the steps you can follow:
- First, stop watering the Bird of paradise immediately and wait until it gets dry.
- Check the pot’s drainage holes. If there are no drainage holes, you must change the current pot with a new one. Or, drill some holes.
- Then, check whether the soil has good drainage or not. If not, you should amend the current soil to improve it. Add some perlite and vermiculite or peat moss to the soil. This will help to reduce soil compactness. But if the soil has more clay, simply repot it using a fresh potting mix.
- Relocate the plant to a new location where it will receive more sunlight if it is not getting enough already.
- Also, prune the plant to provide proper air circulation around it.
- If the soil is extremely wet, remove the plant from the pot, gently keep it above the newspaper, and wait until it dries completely. After that, you can repot it again.
2. To save the severely damaged Bird of paradise
If the situation is serious, your plant is most likely suffering from root rot.
Here are some steps to recover the Bird of paradise from serious damage:
Remove the plant from its current pot.
Remove the plant from the current pot.
If it’s difficult to separate, you must use a knife and slide it to the sides of the soil.
After loosening the sides, slowly take out the plant.
Trim damaged roots and remove the old soil.
After completely removing the plant, you must remove the soil from the roots.
Give a good shower to the roots and gently remove all the soil attached to them.
Then, inspect the damaged area and trim all the rotten, dead, dried, or infected parts with the help of pruning shears.
Make sure you don’t remove the healthy roots, which are white.
Then you must prune the other plant’s parts, like leaves, shoots, and stems, which are damaged.
You must sterilize the shears before pruning.
Allow the plant to dry and recover for several days.
After trimming the infected roots and parts, keep the plant on the newspaper and let the roots dry for at least one day.
Keep the plant in a location where it will receive proper aeration.
Make arrangements for repotting.
Choose a pot 2 to 3 times bigger than the old one.
Also, it should have a proper drainage system.
Then you must prepare a proper potting mix.
And to protect the roots from infection, add some fungicide solution to the potting soil.
Adding sulfur-based fungicides, copper, hydrogen peroxide, charcoal, and cinnamon to the potting soil.
You can select 1 to 2 items among them.
Also read: When Should I Repot My Birds Of Paradise?
Repotting the plant into a new pot with fresh soil.
Then take the pot and add a few inches of potting soil.
Place the plant in the pot’s center and fill the remaining area with potting soil.
Make sure to do this process gently to avoid stress.
Also, don’t fill the soil tightly.
After repotting, place the plant where it will receive sunlight and proper air circulation.
Prevention and maintenance for overwatered Bird of Paradise
Let’s discuss the preventive measures you should take to avoid overwatering:
- Always choose a pot that contains the proper amount of drainage holes.
- Before watering the plant, always check the soil moisture level. You can check it by inserting a finger or using a moisture meter.
- Keep checking the drainage holes frequently to see if they are clogged. If yes, then clean it.
- Keep the plant in an area with good air circulation and bright indirect sunlight.
- Don’t overcrowd by keeping all the plants together, as it can decrease the airflow. Also, prune birds of paradise frequently.
- Use a well-draining soil mix. Mix the soil by adding ½ potting soil and 1/2rd peat moss.
- If you think the plant is stressed due to frequent watering, avoid watering for 2 weeks and turn off the humidifier, if any.
- Don’t water your Bird of paradise during the winter months.
Take immediate action to help your Bird of paradise whenever you notice the early signs of overwatering. If the situation gets out of control, it becomes difficult to rescue the plant, especially in the case of root rot.
Try to create a watering routine and maintain it properly to avoid such problems in the future. But check the soil’s moisture level before watering the plant. Never water already soggy soil. You can water when the soil is almost dry.
Don’t panic if your Bird of paradise is overwatered or has root rot. Check the treatment and preventive measures mentioned in this article to save the overwatered Bird of paradise once and for all.
Does the potting material affect the moisture level of the soil?
Yes, the potting material affects the moisture level of the soil. For example – terracotta absorbs the excess moisture of the soil. While on the other hand, plastic pots help the soil to stay moist for a longer period. So choose the pot accordingly.
How often should I water my Bird of paradise?
Water the Bird of paradise once a week only after checking the moisture level. You must water more during bright, strong sunlight and reduce watering during low sunlight.