Why Are My Bird of Paradise Leaves Curling, Splitting or Turning Brown? Fixing Common Strelitzia Leaf Issues

By: Matt Slaymaker
June 21, 2024
Why is My Bird of Paradise Leaves Curling
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The Bird of Paradise is a majestic houseplant with stunning flowers and lush foliage. Sought-after for its striking look and tropical vibe, this low-maintenance plant can enhance the aesthetic appeal of any room. 

However, despite properly caring for your Bird of Paradise, you may still encounter issues with this gorgeous tropical plant. For example, it’s particularly frustrating to see your Bird of Paradise leaves curling. Other common leaf problems with your Strelitzia plant include yellow and brown leaves, splitting, or droopy foliage, and more.

This guide will explore the reasons for your Bird of Paradise leaf issues and the solutions that can prevent or fix the problem. So, read on to find out how to keep your green companion happy and thriving.

About Bird of Paradise Plant

About Bird of Paradise Plants

The Bird of Paradise plant or Strelitzia reginae is a tropical beauty named after its orange and blue bird-shaped flowers. The plant boasts an easy-care nature and thrives in bright, direct light. It prefers low humidity and consistent but less frequent watering. Native to South Africa, the Bird of Paradise enjoys warm temperatures. Outdoors, you can grow it successfully on the porch in hardy zones 10-121.

Other varieties of this plant include the Narrow-leafed Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia juncea), which produces similar flowers, the Giant Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia Nicolai), boasting blue and white flowers, the White Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia alba), a spectacular and rare plant variety, and more

They are all popular among indoor plant enthusiasts because of their exotic look. They’re robust and resilient and suited to both novice and experienced growers.

Still, even seasoned gardeners can find that their Bird of Paradise plant is struggling occasionally. So, let's see how to resolve the most common leaf issues with your Strelitzia plant.

Bird of Paradise Leaves: What’s Wrong With My Bird of Paradise? 

What's Wrong With My Bird of Paradise
Source: Reddit

Even after providing the best care, you may find your Bird of Paradise leaves turning brown and curling, along with other issues. But with timely actions, you can prevent and even reverse some of them.

Why Are My Bird of Paradise Leaves Curling? 

A common reason for Bird of Paradise plant leaves curling is too much or too little watering. Another reason is excess or insufficient light. 

Your Bird of Paradise leaves curling inward indicates water loss, due to excess heat and overexposure to sunlight. If the leaves curl and point downward, they’re likely drooping, due to excess watering.

Frequent or sudden changes in the temperature or environment can also cause the leaves to curl. Also, look out for pests and infections that can cause the leaves to wilt or bend.

How Do You Fix Curling Leaves on Bird of Paradise? 

Water your Bird of Paradise once every 1-2 weeks, depending on the weather conditions. Ensure that the top of the soil is dry before the next watering session. 

Although it can thrive in 6 hours of direct sunlight, place it in a spot with bright but indirect light for faster recovery.

Bird of Paradise leaves turning brown and curling inward mean overexposure to light and dehydration. Hence, moving it to a place with less sunlight will help you resolve the issue. Also ensure that the temperature is nice and warm, ranging between 65°F and 80°F, with no cold drafts or extreme heat.

Bird of Paradise Leaves Turning Brown: Causes and Fixes 

Bird of Paradise Brown Leaves
Source: Reddit

Bird of Paradise leaves may turn brown along the edges or develop brown spots on the blade, due to the following reasons:

  • Brown edges suggest dry air and underwatering, indicating that the plant needs more humidity and water.
  • Brown spots on the foliage could be caused by overwatering sometimes, too. 
  • Spots could also be due to too much light, or temperature shock
  • Browning leaves are also caused by chemical burns from too much fertilizer or chlorinated tap water.
  • Another reason for brown spots on the underside of the leaves is scale insects. They consume the plant’s sap and cause damage if untreated.  
  • Discoloration may often start with yellowing, causing the blades to brown if unattended. This is primarily due to root rot caused by nutrient deficiency and overwatering.

How Do You Fix Brown Leaves on Bird of Paradise?

Your Bird of Paradise leaves turning brown usually suggests that the leaves have dead cells. Reviving them may not be possible, and you need to remove these dead or dying leaves. 

However, adjusting the plant care regime can prevent browning or even make the leaves healthy again. Place the plant in bright and indirect sunlight for 6-8 hours.

Water the plant every 1-2 weeks, allowing the top soil layers to dry out between watering sessions. Keep it away from cold drafts or heat waves and offer a stable environment.

If you notice hard brown spots on the leaf undersides or other parts, wipe them with neem oil, or insecticidal soap, as the plant is most likely suffering from pests.

Why Are the Leaves on Bird of Paradise Turning Yellow? 

Bird of Paradise leaves turning yellow are primarily caused by overwatering. This makes the soil soggy, which leads to root rot and prevents the plant from properly absorbing nutrients. 

Extreme low-light conditions for prolonged periods can cause them to turn yellow, too. Your plant needs sunlight to produce chlorophyll, and the lack of it causes a loss of vibrancy in color.

What to Do for Yellowing Leaves on Paradise 

Adjust your watering schedule to prevent and fix your Bird of Paradise’s yellow leaves issues before it’s too late. Water your plant once every 10 days or when the soil feels dry. Reduce hydrating your Strelitzia to once every 2 weeks in moist and humid conditions.

Also, place the plant in a well-lit spot, preferably with 6-8 hours of direct light. While excessive sun exposure can scorch the Bird of Paradise, it still needs bright-light conditions.  

Consider repotting your Bird of Paradise plant in fresh well-draining soil if you suspect serious root rot issues.  

Bird of Paradise Leaves Drooping: Reasons & Solutions 

Droopy Bird of Paradise leaves are likely due to extreme low-light conditions. Droopy leaves could also be a sign of overwatering and waterlogged soil. Furthermore, a rootbound plant will also exhibit wilting and drooping foliage.

How Do You Fix a Droopy Bird of Paradise? 

If your Bird of Paradise leaves are drooping, move the plant to a well-lit spot. It enjoys bright, indirect light and thrives with at least 6 hours of direct sunlight.

Wait for the top soil layers to dry out before watering the plant. Repot the plant every 2 years, placing it in a pot 2” larger, allowing it to grow. Ensure that the pot has sufficient drainage holes. The Bird of Paradise enjoys rich, loamy, well-draining soil that doesn’t get. 

Other Common Bird of Paradise Problems 

Bird of Paradise Other Common Problems
Source: Reddit

Your Bird of Paradise may also experience some other problems, such as: 

  • Pests: Spider mites, mealybugs, and scale insects can infest your Bird of Paradise. Apply neem oil or insecticidal soap, and clean the plant regularly. 
  • Diseases: Root rot and fungal infections due to excess moisture and soil contamination are common. Remove diseased parts and control humidity and water levels. 
  • Leggy structure: This is due to insufficient light, overfertilization, or excess nitrogen. Place your Strelitzia in a well-lit spot and give it a balanced fertilizer only during the growing seasons.
  • Stunted growth: Nutrient deficiency, pest infestation, or insufficient light can cause stunted growth. Clean and disinfect the plant and fertilize it with a balanced solution bimonthly in spring and summer. Provide your plant with direct sunlight for at least 6 hours a day. 
  • No leaves: It can be due to overwatering/underwatering, low humidity, pests, low light, transplanting shock, or over-pruning. Give your plant a stable environment and balanced care.
  • Failure to flower: This is caused by light deprivation or maturity issues. Ensure proper light exposure for your plant to help it bloom. To prevent nutrient deficiency, feed your Bird of Paradise plant in the growing season.

    Bird of Paradise Plant Care: FAQs 

    Q: Why are my Bird of Paradise leaves splitting?

    A: Extreme dryness or exposure to scorching sunlight can lead to Bird of Paradise leaves splitting and curling. It usually starts with dry, crispy spots on the leaf blade. Increase the humidity by spritzing the plant and keeping it away from dry conditions and excess sunlight. Note that split leaves on Strelitzia plants growing in the wild can be normal. 

    Q: Why are my Bird of Paradise leaves folding?

    A: Excessive or insufficient hydration explains why your Bird of Paradise leaves are curling and folding. This can also occur, due to improper light conditions. Also, be careful about frequent changes in environmental conditions. Pests can also make the leaves wilt.

    Q: Why is my Bird of Paradise losing leaves?

    A: Your Bird of Paradise might be losing leaves simply because of age. There’s no need to panic as it is a natural process. However, if you notice unnatural leaf dropping, it could be, due to dehydration or excessive sunlight. Sudden changes in light conditions can also cause the issue.

    Q: How do you tell if a Bird of Paradise has root rot?

    A: Telltale signs that a Bird of Paradise has root rot are discolored and wilting yellow leaves. You may also notice a stunted growth pattern. Check the soil to see if it’s waterlogged and if there’s a foul smell. Pull the plant out of the soil and check if the roots are discolored and mushy to confirm root rot.  


    Bird of Paradise leaves curling and other leaf issues are not an uncommon problem. But there’s no need to panic because you can still revive your plant and make it healthy and happy.

    Take care of its watering and lighting needs and stabilize the temperature and humidity around your plant and you’ll enjoy its exotic beauty and vibrancy for many years to come.