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Why Does My Bird of Paradise Have White Spots?

Bird of Paradise is a beautiful tropical plant that you see in both outdoor and indoor gardens. But finding white spots on these plants is not a pleasant experience.

Pest infestations, edema, and powdery mildew are some of the common reasons that cause white spots on bird of paradise plants. Immediate treatment by pruning the affected parts and using fungicides and pesticides will help your plant recover.

If your bird of paradise has white spots, I have the solutions. Keep reading this article to understand the possible issues, their treatments, and ways to prevent white spots on your bird of paradise plant.

bird of paradise pot

I have done my best to address all of your concerns in the article below. However, if you still have any questions or are confused about the article, you can receive personalized one-on-one assistance from me by leaving a comment below. I will respond to your comment within a few hours.


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Common causes of white spots on Bird of Paradise plants

There can be many reasons why your bird of paradise has white spots.

One of my houseplants also suffered from white spots, but my plant returned to its normal health after I took care of it properly.

Before starting the treatment, I discovered my plant suffered from nutrient deficiencies. 

Similarly, your bird of paradise may also suffer from something you don’t know.

This article will help you to find out the exact cause. 

The first step to retrieving your bird of paradise is identifying the main cause.

You cannot bring your plant to good health without knowing the proper reason. 

Let’s discuss each one of them in detail.

1. Powdery mildew

If you notice a white powdery substance in your bird of paradise, it is a fungal infection called powdery mildew.

This is the first reason which happens to most plants in terms of white spots.

Even when one of my houseplants got one, I thought it was because of powdery mildew.

White spots first appear on the top of the foliage, and the infected area soon turns yellow-brown-black as time passes. 

Without treatment, the plant becomes weak, droops, and eventually dies. 

2. Edema 

This is a type of plant disorder where roots absorb more moisture than foliage can transpire.

Due to excessive water retention, the cells rupture, creating white spots, which can be a huge risk to your plant’s health. 

Due to excess moisture, the areas where cells are ruptured enlarge or tear, leaving brittle white spots on both the top and underside of the leaves.

The spots can be either grey or white. 

3. Lack of nutrients

NPK fertilizer

Nutrient deficiencies are one of the main causes of white spots in birds of paradise.

The lack of copper, manganese, calcium, magnesium, and iron is the reason behind the white spots on the bird of paradise. 

My plant also had white spots because of this reason.

The main problem was identifying this problem.

But as soon as I identified it, it was easy to recover my plant from this issue.

Also read: Do You Need To Fertilize Bird Of Paradise?

4. Sunburn or low light

When this plant is exposed to direct sunlight, it leads to brown spots on the leaves, which eventually turn white after some time, leaving a brown border on the spot.

Similarly, if the bird of paradise receives low light, the plant fails to produce chlorophyll, which is responsible for green pigment, and the plant starts to fade and soon gets yellow and white spots all over the leaves.

Also read: How Much Light Does A Bird Of Paradise Need?

5. Pests, fungal, and bacterial infestations

Pests, fungal and bacterial infestations can also cause white spots.

Once your plant becomes prone to such infestations, it gets difficult to handle.

I have also faced such issues, so I know.

They suck out all the sap and infect the specific parts of the plant, which later have white spots.

Later on in this article, we will discuss each infestation in detail.

Also read: Do Birds Of Paradise Attract Bugs?

How to identify and treat white spots on bird of paradise leaves?

Bird of paradise Outdoors

Now that you know all the possible causes, identifying and treating the bird of paradise is the most important task.

I also had difficulties finding the actual cause, and no one could help me.

But you don’t have to worry about it as I am there.

Let’s begin with identifications and solutions:

1. Powdery mildew: Identification and treatment

Identification: Check whether the spots are uneven, grey, or fuzzy white. 

Also, if you touch it with your bare hands, it will feel like talcum powder.

Treatment: Here is how you can deal with powdery mildew.

  • First, isolate your bird of paradise somewhere safe, where it will receive good indirect sunlight and proper aeration.
  • Don’t mist your plant.
  • Water the plant after checking that 2 to 3 inches of the topsoil is dry. If unsure, check it with a moisture meter or insert a finger.
  • Don’t fertilize the plant in late summer; it can encourage powdery mildew. I fertilize my plants only during their growing season.
  • If the fungus has overgrown, prune the damaged and infected parts of the bird of paradise.
  • Provide a good shower to the plant and keep it in a bright indirect light
  • Then spray chemical controls such as sulfur-based fungicides, Neem oil, triforce, and potassium bicarbonate all over your plant.
  • If you want a non-chemical control, add 2.5-3 tablespoons of horticulture oil and 1 tablespoon of baking soda into 1 gallon of water. I use this mixture frequently for my plants, and it works fine. 

2. Edema: Identification and treatment

Identification: You will notice scars, blisters, and moisture-soaked bumps on the leaves.

Treatment: If edema is the cause of white spots on your bird of paradise, try these:

  • First, fix your watering schedule. Never let the bird of paradise sit on soggy soil. Use a moisture meter or finger to check the topsoil dryness and then water it.
  • Check the pot and make sure the soil is well-draining or not to avoid overwatering.
  • Provide proper aeration to the plant and avoid keeping all the houseplants too close to each other. I always keep a gap of at least 5 inches between my houseplants. 
  • Bird of paradise loves to thrive in direct and indirect bright sunlight. So relocate the plant according to this.
  • Reduce the humidity around the plant. Avoid misting it, and stop using the humidifier if you are using one.
  • Deficiencies of potassium and calcium make the plant suffer from edema frequently. So, provide a slow-release fertilizer. 

3. Lack of nutrients: Identification and solution

fertilizer dosage

Identification: If you notice the foliage is turning yellow out of nowhere, along with white spots or patches between the leaf veins, it is most likely because of nutrient deficiencies.

Solution: Let’s discuss each solution according to the specific nutrient:

  • Calcium: You can add lime to the existing soil, or you can also add crushed eggshells to the topsoil.
  • Copper: Apply a fertilizer that contains copper sulfate or copper oxide.
  • Manganese: You can use a soil fertilizer with a manganese sulfate, or you can simply get a foliage feed fertilizer rich in manganese.
  • Magnesium: Take 1 tablespoon of Epsom salt and mix it with 1 gallon of water and apply it to the soil.
  • Iron: To increase iron deficiency, you must make the soil acidic. I use coffee grounds to make the soil acidic. You can also add iron chelate to the foliage.

4. Sunburn: Identification and solution

Identification: Scorched and burnt leaves are the common signs.

Solution: Here is how you treat sunburn on your plants.

  • Prune all the scorched leaves and water the plant properly to keep the plant hydrated. 
  • Relocate the bird of paradise, where it will get indirect sunlight but not direct afternoon sunlight. The best place is east-facing windows.
  • If you are keeping it near a window, place it 5 feet away and provide a sheer curtain for protection.

5. Low light: Identification and solution

Identification: The bird of paradise will be leggy and stretch towards the sunlight.

Solution: It is easy to fix a plant with white spots due to low light.

  • If you keep the bird of paradise in the dark, relocate it to a sunny location with lots of indirect and direct sunlight. 
  • If there is a lack of natural light, then use artificial light. I do this every time, and it works fine for my plants.

Bird of Paradise pests and diseases that causes white spots

SymptomsPossible Causes
White spots on leavesScale insects, mealybugs, spider mites, powdery mildew
Curling leavesSpider mites
White powdery substance on leavesPowdery mildew
Sticky substance on leavesScale insects, mealybugs

Different types of pests and fungal and bacterial infestations can cause white spots on the bird of paradise.

I will list all the types in detail and the solutions to eliminate them.

Pest infestations

Bird of paradise bugs

Five types of pests can cause white spots.

Let’s discuss them.

1. Mealybugs

Mealybugs love to suck out all the sap from the foliage and leave a thick wax coating of honeydew which attracts ants.

They are not visible to the naked eye, but you will notice a flurry and white wax dots on the plant.

They mostly stay on the underside of the foliage.

Solution:

  • First, give a good shower to the bird of paradise to wash out all the pests.
  • To remove the remaining pests, take cotton balls and dip them in rubbing alcohol and wipe them off on the infected parts. 
  • Then, spray insecticidal soap or neem oil. Repeat it every week. 
  • You can also get natural predators such as ladybugs and lacewings. They love to feed on mealybugs.

2. Spider mites

Spider mites are small insects.

They also suck out the sap and feed on the chlorophyll, which causes yellow and white spots on the foliage. 

They are difficult to identify at an early stage.

If attacked, you will notice a web-like structure on the underside of the leaves.

Solution:

  • Provide a strong shower to your plant. Spider mites are weak, and they will fall off easily. 
  • Then keep the plant in isolation and prune all the infected parts.
  • Mist the plant frequently, as spider mites hate highly humid conditions. 
  • Don’t expose the plant to harsh direct sunlight; it will cause dehydration, and the spider mites will thrive more. 
  • Use insecticidal soap or neem oil and spray all over the plant for control. Don’t forget to spray every 8-10 days.

3. Caterpillars

Fiddle leaf fig 20 2
caterpillars identification

Caterpillars are easily visible.

A bite mark is a clear indication of caterpillars.

After feeding, they leave a hole, mark, and white spots on the foliage.

Solution:

  • Pick the caterpillars with your hand as soon as you notice.
  • For prevention, use biological insecticides and spray all over the plant.
  • You can also bring parasitic wasps. They are caterpillar’s predators. 

4. Grasshoppers

Grasshoppers mostly attack the outdoor bird of paradise plants.

But there is also a possibility of attacking indoor plants too. 

They are mostly attracted to huge and shiny foliage, just like a bird of paradise.

When the grasshoppers bite, you will see white marks and spots on the leaves.

Solution:

  • Pluck the grasshoppers away from the plant. 
  • If you have a jasmine or rose plant in your home, keep it with the bird of paradise. Grasshoppers will not come near them. 
  • You can also bring a natural predator, robber flies.
  • Use a biological control insecticide for prevention.

5. Oleander scale

If you notice moving white spots on the foliage, it’s because of the oleander scale.

They first crawl until they find a place to settle permanently.

You will see a rough whitish formation on the foliage, sooty mold, stunted growth, and small brown spots on the undersides of the foliage. 

Solution:

  • First, give a spray to the plant by using a horticulture oil. All the scales will fall off eventually. 
  • Then wipe the remaining scales with a wet cotton ball. 
  • Then prune the infected parts and let the plant heal for some days. 

Fungal infections

bird of paradise brown

There are 2 types of fungal infections responsible for white spots on the bird of paradise.

Let’s discuss each one of them in detail:

1. White mold

White mold is also known as saprophytic fungus.

You might get confused between powdery mildew and white mold.

But they both are different.

The plant will show chalky white spots on the stems, leaves, or soil.

White mold is not considered harmful to your bird of paradise as it helps to provide nutrition to the soil and breaks down organic matter. 

2. Gray mold

Gray mold is also known as Botrytis.

It is an infective mold that expands through the velvet gray microorganisms.

They mostly thrive in damp leaves, high humidity, and cool temperatures. 

You will see white-gray spots on the stems, leaves, and bracts.

If you notice any broken leaves, it’s the entrance of this mold.

Solution: Here’s how you can treat fungal infections in your bird of paradise.

  • Prune all the infected leaves and stems. 
  • Don’t overwater the bird of paradise and mist it frequently.
  • Try to provide proper indirect sunlight. 
  • Provide proper air circulation by pruning and keeping the bird of paradise a few feet away from other houseplants. 
  • Spray a fungicide all over the bird of paradise. Once it has been dried, sprinkle cinnamon powder on the top layer of the soil and other infected parts. 
  • If the fungal growth is overgrown, re-pot the entire plant in a new container using fresh soil.

Bacterial infections

Bacterial infections are not the same as fungal infections.

A white spot, mosaic virus, and septoria are the 3 types of virus or bacterial infections your bird of paradise can suffer from.

Let’s discuss them in detail:

1. White spot (Septoria)

Septoria is a bacteria that causes white spots on the leaves.

They mainly thrive during high humidity and hot climatic conditions. 

The white spot will display a yellow, purple, or red swollen edge. 

Solution:

  • Check the infected leaves or stems and remove them completely with the help of pruning shears
  • After removing, wash your hands properly and sterilize the pruning shears so they will not infect other plants. 
  • Then, treat the plant with a copper-based fungicide to prevent septoria from attacking again.

2. Mosaic virus

Here, the leaf spot is caused by a virus. Mosaic virus mainly attacks plants that are already infected by pests.

When this virus infects the foliage, it leaves a white and faded green spot. 

To identify, you will see small green and yellow spots on the bird of paradise foliage. 

Solution:

  • Unfortunately, there is no solution for curing the mosaic virus on the bird of paradise. If you don’t want it, the best way is to prevent them from attacking the plant. 
  • To save your bird of paradise, you should propagate the plant and re-pot it on the new container using fresh potting soil
  • If the situation worsens, you must completely eliminate the bird of paradise. 

3. White rot

White rot occurs when the root gets damaged due to infection, which later on takes the form of root rot disease.

When the roots are damaged, they lose the ability to absorb nutrients and moisture from the soil, leading to various health issues for the bird of paradise, such as yellow or white spots, wilted leaves, stunted growth, dropping of leaves, etc.

Solution:

  • Remove all the dead and infected parts of the bird of paradise. 
  • Then, re-pot the plant in a new container using fresh soil. 
  • If hardly any healthy parts are left, try propagating your plant instead. 
  • If the situation worsens, eliminate the entire plant and plant a new one. 

Prevention and maintenance tips for a healthy bird of paradise plant

bird of paradise backyard

Now that we are done discussing all the causes and solutions, now let’s discuss the prevention tips for your bird of paradise:

FactorsPrevention tips
LocationChoose a location for your bird of paradise where it will receive good air circulation. I never keep my plants too close to each other as it can cause suffocation. So, you should also avoid doing that.
WaterBefore you water your plant, always check the top 2-3 inches of the soil, either with a moisture meter or by inserting a finger. If it’s dry, then only water the plant. Also, don’t use tap water.
HumidityTo maintain humidity, you can mist the plant frequently by spraying, using a humidifier, or applying a pebble tray method. 
SunlightAlways protect the plant from harsh afternoon sunlight. Keep where it will receive a sufficient amount of direct and indirect light. If my area lacks natural light, I always use artificial light for my houseplants. You can also do that.
FertilizerFertilize the bird of paradise with a well-balanced liquid fertilizer (N-P-K 20:20:20) only during spring and summer.
Fungus and pestsWhen you notice pests and fungal infections, prune the infected parts and spray horticulture oil all over the plant. Repeat it every 2-3 weeks.
WinterAvoid frequent watering, fertilizing, and pruning during winter months.

Final words

White spots are problematic; you should never ignore such signs for too long. Otherwise, your plant can get into serious health issues. When I saw one of my houseplants getting white spots, I immediately discovered the exact cause and quickly recovered it.

The most important thing is to identify the cause of white spots on the bird of paradise and treat them early. Also, follow the prevention ways I mentioned to prevent white spots.

Can you make white spots disappear from the bird of paradise?

No, you can’t do that. Unfortunately, the leaves can’t get back to their greenery pigment. The only solution is to prune the affected parts.

How much time does it take to recover white spots?

After treatment, you will see your bird of paradise is getting healthy within 2 weeks. The plant doesn’t take much time to recover once you discover the actual problem.


Reference: Wikipedia


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  1. Carol Ellis says:

    I wish there was more pertaining to a Bird of Paradise planted outside. But I’m going to treat it as if it’s an inside plant and hope the white dots go away.

    • Richa says:

      If you have a Bird of Paradise plant planted outside and you’re noticing white dots on the leaves, it may be a sign of a fungal or insect infestation.

      To address the issue, you can try treating the plant with a fungicide or insecticide spray, following the instructions on the label. Make sure to apply the spray to both the top and bottom of the leaves and repeat the treatment as necessary.

      Additionally, make sure the plant is getting adequate sunlight, water, and nutrients to help it stay healthy and fend off any potential infections. It’s also important to prune any dead or damaged leaves and to keep the area around the plant clean and free of debris to prevent potential pests or diseases.

      While Bird of Paradise plants are typically grown indoors, they can also thrive outdoors in warm, tropical climates. If you’re treating your outdoor plant as if it’s an indoor plant, make sure to adjust your care routine accordingly and provide it with the proper growing conditions for its environment.