Bird of Paradise Leaves Not Opening | 5 Causes and Solutions

Bird of paradise is an easy to grow plant that produces beautiful flowers over fall and winter. If leaves are coming through and not opening, it can be caused by low humidity levels, low temperature, dry soil, lack of light and pest attack. These problems can be solved to encourage the leaf to open faster once you identify them.

This article will explore why bird of paradise leaves will not open and easy tips to help them to open faster.

Why bird of paradise leaves are not opening

Here are the top causes of bird of paradise leaves not opening and how to solve each one. These are easy to deal with and simple to treat naturally.

1. Lack of light

Bird of paradise plants growing in deep shade or indoors can lack the amount of light they need to open their leaves fast. Lots of the time leaves will eventually open but it will be slowed if the plant is not getting enough light.

Bird of paradise plants grown in at least 6 hours of sunlight will grow large healthy leaves and loads of flowers.

Bird of paradise will grow fastest in a full sun position. This means putting them in apposition that gets at least 6 hours of winter sun. While they can grow in less sun, this can slow down the rate that their leaves open.

To solve this problem move outdoor potted bird of paradise to a position that gets as much sun as possible. Aim to give them at least 6 hours of sunlight but more is better.

For indoor bird of paradise plants, place them near a window or corner of your house that gets morning sun. If your house is darker, an indoor UV light is a great way to help them to grow faster in a dark room. Bathrooms can be a great place to grow bird of paradise if it gets plenty of light.

2. Temperature

Very cold temperatures can slow the leaf growth of bird of paradise stopping them from opening. They can survive mild frost, but their growth will slow down if the weather gets very cold and frosts get heavy. Very cold winters will slow the growth of the leaves of bird of paradise.

They can still grow flowers but will often slow their leaf growth over this time. New leaves usually emerge during fall and the growth of leaves will slow in winter. The plant will focus its energy on flower growth which is great. If leaf growth slows, don’t worry it will come back in spring.

3. Plant drying out

Bird of paradise plants are very hardy and can survive if they are neglected or if you forget to water. They have very thick roots that hold water well and help it survive over a dry period.  If the soil dries out too much however it will slow the plant’s growth and the leaves may not open.

Bird of paradise plants will grow best if they are given regular water over their major growth periods. They will add more leaves in spring and fall which is the time to make sure they get water. I like to deep water my large bird of paradise in pots each week.

This is enough to encourage them to grow new leaves but not so much that it rots the roots.  I will reduce watering over winter to encourage the plant to focus its energy on producing flowers. The colder temperature will slow the rate the soil dries and they can often survive on rain alone.

4. Pest attack

Bird of paradise leaves that have been attacked by pests will not open properly. Chewing pests like caterpillars, snails and slugs will eat the edges or will eat holes in the leaves. This will slow the growth of the leaf and can stop it from growing out properly.

Slugs and snails are common in fall and winter when the weather is wet. They hide in the organic matter near the top of the soil and come out during the night. If you see holes in the leaves or if the edges have been eaten it is likely to be

Caterpillars tend to stay out during the day so you can usually catch them in the act. Check the back of the leaf to see if the caterpillar is still there and squirt them off with a jet of water from your hose.

Sap sucking insects like aphids, thrips or scale will sit on the back of the leaf or on the stems and suck the sap from the plant. They can be treated with Neem oil, diluted and sprayed onto the bugs until they disappear.

5. Low humidity

Low humidity levels can stop bird of paradise leaves from opening. Higher humidity will increase the speed that the leaves open and can help the plant grow faster. Bird of paradise plants love a humid summer and spring to add new leaves. They thrive in tropical and subtropical climates.

If you live in a cooler climate then their leaf growth opening can slow if the humidity levels are lower. For indoor bird of paradise it is easy to fix. You can add a small, indoor humidifier near your plants over spring and summer to mimic a tropical climate.

For outdoor bird of paradise plants it can be tricker to increase humidity levels. The best way is to place them in a greenhouse. They will thrive in this environment and will love the extra warmth.

How to help bird of paradise leaf to open

Here are my top tips to help bird of paradise leaves to open faster. Get each of these conditions right and your bird of paradise will grow lots of leaves and great flowers.

1. Plant them in good soil

Plant bird of paradise in a good quality potting soil which is all purpose and has some added slow release fertilizer. If you are planting bird of paradise in the ground, improve the soil with compost to allow it to freely drain so the roots can access the nutrients in the soil and to avoid root rot.

2. Water regularly but not too much

Water bird of paradise regularly over the warmer months of spring and summer. Water plants deeply once or twice per week to keep them happy then reduce this amount over winter. Check the top soil and if it is dry 1-2 inches down, then deep water the plant with your hose.

3. Give them a dose of pelleted chicken manure

Give bird of paradise plants a handful of pelleted chicken manure in spring. This will give them a top up of essential nutrients including nitrogen which will support new leaf growth.

4. Move them into full sun

Move potted bird of paradise plants into full sun or at least 6 hours of sunlight. This will help the leaves to open sooner, grow larger and will give you earlier flowers.

5. Check for pests

Check the leaves over to see if you can see any tiny green aphids, small, brown scale or caterpillars. Treat sap sucking insects with neem oil and squirt off caterpillars with your hose. Your bird of paradise leaves will be able to open up without being damaged by these bugs.

Bird of Paradise Leaves Not Opening | Summary

Leaf damage, cold weather, shade and a low humidity can all slow the opening of bird of paradise leaves. These plants are very hardy and need minimal fertilizer to grow well. Good soil, watering regularly over the warmer months and a small amount of pelleted chicken manure in spring will give you lots of leaves and great flowers over winter.

Happy growing.