Why Are My Bird of Paradise Leaves Curling


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Birds of Paradise are beautiful flowers. They look great in bouquets and flower arrangements, but they also make great houseplants.

But sometimes these gorgeous plants have leaves that curl up and become brown and brittle. This happens because the plant has run out of water or for a number of other reasons.

If you’ve had problems growing your Bird of Paradise, then you’re not alone. It’s happened to me many times. In fact, I’m sure most of us have experienced this problem at least once.

There are many things that can affect the health and appearance of bird of paradise leaves. This article will cover the problems you may be having. Simple solutions can help restore your leaves to their former glory.

Reasons for Bird of Paradise Leaves Curling

There are a number of reasons why your bird of paradise leaves might start to curl. Here are some of the most common:

1. Underwatering Issues

If you don’t water enough, the bird of paradise plant will dry out and its roots will wilt. As it dries out, the leaves will curl and it begins to die. The leaves begin to turn brown and curl up. 

Birds of Paradise need water to survive because they have large leaves. The leaves absorb lots of water to grow healthy. 

To solve the underwatering issues, you should check them regularly to make sure the soil is moist. Check the top two inches of soil with your finger to see if it’s dry. If it’s dry, give your plant a good watering.

Make sure the plant has well-draining soil, so the excess water drains out of the pot’s drainage holes to avoid overwatering issues.

2. Low Water Quality

Your tap water may contain harmful chemicals or trace elements, like chlorine and fluoride. These could affect your bird of paradise and make its leaves curl.

The amount of chemicals in hard water is determined by where you live. You should check if there are any changes in the amount of chemicals or trace elements in your tap water.

To help resolve chlorine in the water issues, leave the tap water overnight to remove chlorine. The chlorine will evaporate as much as possible. Birds of Paradise need clean water to survive. 

Better options for water are rainwater and filtered water.

3. Temperature Changes

Birds of Paradise enjoy a warm climate with a temperature range between 65-85°F.  

They also do not like sudden temperature changes or cold weather. When the temperature drops below 60°F, the plant starts to slow down and eventually stops growing.

Birds of Paradise should be planted in areas that stay in the general temperature range and shouldn’t be near any heat sources or air conditioners.

4. Insufficient or Too Much Sunlight

Birds of Paradise require bright, indirect light. Too much direct sunlight causes leaf burn and curling, while too little light causes wilting and curling.

Insufficient light is common with indoor plants. It’s best to find a location away from direct sun exposure, but still has plenty of bright indirect sunlight near windows. 

5. Poor Quality Soil

Birds of Paradise need nutrient-rich soil to grow healthy. These are heavy feeders, so it needs plenty of nutrients. But not too much, because over-fertilization can burn the roots and kill the plant.

A soil pH level of 5.5 – 7.5 is ideal as it’s slightly acidic. To decrease the pH of your garden soil, add sulfur or peat moss to your soil mix.

If your bird of paradise has been fertilized too much, replace the top couple inches of soil. Rinse the soil thoroughly (allow it to drain completely between rinses) before planting again.

Poor-quality soil should be replaced with better soil. If the whole pot of soil is bad, consider repotting the bird of paradise into fresh potting soil. 

6. Pest Infestation

Sap-sucking insects are the most damaging to plants and will cause the leaves to curl. Mealybugs, scales, thrips, and spider mites will cause the most damage to leaves.

Check your plants for signs of insects. Use insecticidal soap or neem oil to kill them. Organic neem oil can help kill bugs without harming humans or pets.

7. Disease or Infection

Birds of Paradise enjoy moisture, but high amounts of moisture can also lead to diseases or fungal infections. They are susceptible to fungus infections, especially if it’s overwatered, which leads to root rot. 

Root rot can be prevented with well-draining potting soil and drainage holes in the container. Leaf spots can be treated with fungicides.

Diseased and infected plants should be treated with care to revive. Remove the affected parts of the plant and disinfect the savable parts with diluted hydrogen peroxide. Then replant them in fresh soil and a new pot. 

Planting them in new soil and pots helps prevent disease. Copper-based fungicides help plants recover from diseases like leaf spot. 

8. Repotting or Transplant Shock

Your bird of paradise should be repotted every two years to avoid plants that are too rootbound. When plants are rootbound, their roots will start peeking out of the drainage holes or the soil surface. 

If the plant is rootbound, the leaves can curl. Another reason for leaves curling is the transplant shock from repotting. Transplant shock comes from the plant being disturbed by the new environment, so you want to give the plant time to adjust.

After repotting, continue to water and fertilize as you normally would. After a couple of weeks, the leaves should go back to their healthy selves. 

9. Low Humidity 

The bird of paradise is a tropical plant that loves humidity and moisture. Its leaves need lots of it. It enjoys warm, humid conditions. 

Low levels of humidity can cause leaves to curl. Their leaves have lots of surface area, and they can easily lose moisture. High humidity helps prevent this.

A humidifier or misting the leaves once or twice a week is recommended. Be sure to stop if you see leaf spots because that’s an indication that there’s too much moisture. A pebble tray can also help increase humidity to prevent curled leaves.

I recommend using an ultrasonic humidifier because it’s quiet and doesn’t emit any noise. Check out a list of Good Humidifiers for Plants

Last update on 2022-09-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Other Common Bird of Paradise Leaf Issues

Bird of Paradise plants need to be monitored closely because of the size of their leaves. Any leaf problems should be addressed right away before the plant dies.

Bird of Paradise Leaves Turning Yellow

If you notice yellow leaves, the most common reasons are age, overwatering, insufficient light, or lack of nutrients. Leaves with brown edges will also indicate the same issues.

You can remove or prune the old, damaged leaves. To prevent bird of paradise leaves from turning yellow, make sure excess water drains out of the pot’s drainage holes when watering.

Give your plant plenty of bright indirect light, along with nutrient-rich soil through fertilizer. 

Bird of Paradise Leaves Have Brown Spots

Brown spots can be caused by many things. Too much direct sun can cause brown spots. Over fertilizing can also cause brown spots.

Fungus can also cause brown spots on birds of paradise. Pest infestations can also cause brown spots as well.

Monitor your bird of paradise regularly to prevent these issues. If you do find yourself dealing with a problem, treat your plant with proper care. 

Bird of Paradise Leaves Splitting

Bird of Paradise plants are very beautiful and exotic, but they’re also delicate. Their leaves may split or even fall off if you move them around too much. If the leaves are regularly disturbed by you, your kids or pets, the leaves can split. 

Winds can also disturb the leaves and lead to the leaves splitting. Keep it away from windows and hot spots to avoid drying out the leaves.

Bird of Paradise Leaves Not Opening

Bird of Paradise leaves open and flowers bloom with proper care. That means enough light, enough water, high humidity, and no pests.

A plant needs bright, indirect light. It should be watered thoroughly when the top two inches of soil are dry, and checked regularly for pest infestation.

Bird of Paradise Leaves Curling Final Thoughts

Bird of Paradise plants are easy to grow and care for. To prevent their leaves from curling, you just need to provide them with the proper amount of sunlight, water, and nutrients.

Check out these other bird of paradise articles to learn more about this plant species: 

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Written by:

Amy Walsh
I love to grow houseplants and herbs at home! Growing plants has always been a hobby of mine, but it turned into an obsession when I moved out on my own. My apartment is now full of shelves of various plants and stacks of pots waiting for new life. It’s not uncommon to find me checking out the latest indoor plant trends online.