Is Your Bird of Paradise Leaves Curling? Here’s Why

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Is your bird of paradise leaves curling?

Well, there are several reasons why that’s happening. For starters, the leaves of your bird of paradise plant may curl inward as a result of chilly temperature, inadequate moisture, or humidity.

Other causes include watering shock, improper soil pH overgrown roots, transplanting shock, or pest infestation. One or a combination of these causative factors will negatively affect the growth of your plants.

While pinpointing the exact cause may not always be easy, your preceding actions will help you to determine the likely cause thus helping you take the necessary remedial measures.

For instance, when is the last time you watered your bird of paradise plant? When is the last you checked your plants for pests and diseases? Have you recently repotted your plants? How’s the water quality you’ve been using to irrigate your plant and so on.

Answering these questions will point you to the root cause.

Sometimes, however, the curling of the leaves might not be a result of anything you’ve done but rather natural occurrences like the drastic temperature changes. Also, depending on the leaf curvature, a little bit of leaf curl may be normal as a result of the unfurling of the leaves as the foliage matures.

Whichever the case, we’re going to discuss all the possible causes in detail and how to fix each.

Let’s begin:

Causes of Bird of Paradise Leaves Curling and Possible Fixes

Natural growing 

Depending on how the leaves are curling, it could indicate a problem or just natural plant growth. In most cases, it’s a problem when the leaves begin to curl upwards rather than downwards.

This is because the leaves of the bird of paradise plant start out as curled tubes from the main body. The leaves then unfurl as they mature, but even older foliage will bear some curve at the edges.

If that’s the scenario, you don’t have to do anything:

However, there are incidences where downward leaf curling could indicate a deficiency in nutrition. In such cases, the leaf curvature will be more pronounced and the plant will look a bit dull. When that happens, you need to feed your plants with a slow-release fertilizer with enough micronutrients.

Adverse temperature fluctuation

Temperature influences most plant processes, including photosynthesis, transpiration, respiration, germination, and flowering. As temperature changes (up to a point), photosynthesis, transpiration, and respiration are affected.

Now depending on the plant, this may good or a bad thing. For most tropical plants, including the bird of paradise plant, adverse temperature fluctuation may harm them. Especially when the temperatures drop.

The bird of paradise plant grows best under USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 10 and 11. This is especially important for plants grown outdoor. The plant can tolerate as low as 28 degrees F but only for a limited amount of time.

Therefore, if you notice your bird of paradise leaves curling inward, it may be a result of the chilly temperature.

To prevent this, grow your plants in pots during the summer or spring and move them indoors before cold temperatures arrive. If they are already indoors and the leaves are still curling, move the plants near a warm window.

Transplanting shock (Bird of Paradise Leaves Curling after Transplanting)

Transplanting shock happens just after you’ve recently moved your bird of paradise plant from one location to another. It may also occur after repotting. All these occur when transplanting or repotting is not done properly.

When your plant is experiencing a myriad of stress ranging from injured roots to an inadequate root system, it will switch to survival mode which is initially manifested by the curling of the leaves.

If the stress persists, the leaves will dry and fall off leading to the death of the entire plant.

Therefore, if your bird of paradise leaves is curling after transplanting or repotting, you need to take the following actions as soon as practicable:

  • Keep watering your plants until they’re well established
  • Protect them from strong winds
  • Where possible, transplant or repot your bird of paradise plants on a cloudy day or in the evening so that the plants can recover away from the strong sun.
  • Provide a phosphorus-based nutrient solution to the roots.
  • Minimize root damage when planting as much as possible.
  • Use transplants with bigger root balls.
  • Always harden your plants before transplanting otherwise known as acclimatization.

Underwatering your Bird of Paradise

The bird of paradise leaves curling inwards is also a sign of underwatering.

You can avoid this problem by giving more water and making sure that the water runs freely from the bottom of the pot. This thorough watering ensures that all the roots have access to water, but make sure that the plant doesn't sit in that water. Soggy soil can cause other problems.

Overwatering (Bird of Paradise Leaves Curling After Watering)

How much water you apply to your bird of paradise plants depends greatly on the type of soil or potting mix. Other factors include the weather patterns and the plants’ growth rate.

But most of us don’t take all these factors into account before determining whether it’s necessary to water our plants or not.

Instead, we blindly follow a predetermined watering schedule.

Resulting in overwatering the plants:

Overwatering is just as harmful as underwatering. Bird of paradise roots needs air. Overwatering fills air pockets with water, effectively drowning the roots. The roots will begin to rot and the leaves of your plant will start curling initially while appearing darker than usual.

Eventually, the leaves will turn yellow and wilt.

To prevent this, check to see if the soil is moist. Poke your finger an inch into the soil to make sure it is dry below the surface. Water only if the soil is dry. We want to keep the soil moist but not soggy.

Alternatively, there are inexpensive watering gauges you can find at many hardware and home or online stores like Amazon that help you learn when the soil is dry.

Some of the more elaborate ones even include a computer chip and database of common plants, integrating a specific plant's water needs with the current soil moisture.

Inadequate humidity

Humidity is very important, especially for indoor plants grown in containers. While normal room humidity will do in sustaining your bird of paradise, sometimes the plants require a lit bit more since they’re native to the tropics where humidity is abundant.

If the bird of paradise plants doesn’t get sufficient humidity for a prolonged period, they’ll start curling their leaves to alert you.

To avoid this, you should do the following:

  • Mist your plants at least 2 times per week to raise the humidity.
  • Use a pebble tray to keep the humidity around your plants constant.
  • If your plants are indoors, try to use an indoor plant humidifier to supply the required humidity. Here’s a list of the best plant humidifiers to choose from.

Improper soil pH and water quality

The bird of paradise plants prefers slightly acid soil.

However, continuous watering with the tap water could alter the soil’s pH thus affecting its growth. This is because tap water contains salts, chlorine, minerals, and fluoride – all of which can build up in the soil of your plant causing the curling of the leaves.

One way you can reduce this is to use filtered or rainwater. Leaving the water in an open container or sink overnight before using can also help relieve some of the chlorine.

Pests attack

While the bird of paradise is somewhat pests and disease-free, occasionally, it will get infested with some pests such as scales, thrips, and mites.

The bird of paradise leaves curling as a result of pests’ attack is often accompanied by malformed leaves.

You should monitor, your plants frequently for pest infestation. If you spot them, dip a ball of cotton wool in alcohol and gently rub them off from the plant.

You can also use insecticidal soap for control and apply it to the undersides of the leaves. Besides, systemic pesticides are also effective. If you use systemic pesticide, the plant will distribute it from its roots through to its leaves and flowers thus protecting the entire plant.

Overgrown roots in containers

You should repot containerized bird of paradise plants every few years or when they become pot bound.

New soil is important in container plants to help provide nutrients. It is also important to give the plant enough root space. If the plant is root bound, it impedes its ability to uptake moisture and nutrients which can cause curling leaves on birds of paradise.


Bird of paradise (Strelitzia reginae) is a dramatic plant with distinctive orange and midnight blue flowers that resemble an exotic bird peeking out from its broad leaves.

These characteristics make it a darling to most plant enthusiasts and newbies alike.

Therefore, when minor disorders occur that take away its beauty and elegance, you’re likely to worry. Most especially the curling of the leaves which almost always indicates an underlying problem.

Luckily, after reading this article, you’ll be able to diagnose the problem and take the necessary remedial actions before it’s too late.

As always, let us know your thoughts in the comments section, and don’t forget to share the article with your connections. This post might be all one needs to save their bird of paradise plant!

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