Bird of Paradise Leaves Turning Brown | 7 Causes and Solutions

Bird of paradise leaves can turn brown if they are getting too much water, if there is very low humidity, if they lack light or are being attacked by pests. Lack of water water can also be the cause of browning leaves as the roots can rot and the plant leaves can droop. Plant in well-draining soil, full sun and fertilize in the Spring to solve this problem.

Top reasons why bird of paradise leaves will turn brown

Here are the top reasons why a bird of paradise plant’s leaves can turn brown and how to fix it.

1. Too much water

Bird of paradise plants that are overwatered can develop with brown leaves. The leaves can split, curl and eventually turn brown on the edges. The leaves can also yellow in the center as water soluble nutrients like nitrogen are washed out of the soil starving the plant.

2. Not enough water

The strange thing about browning leaves is that they can be caused by both overwatering and underwatering. A bird of paradise plant that is not given enough water will turn brown and crispy on the leaf edges.

To tell the difference between overwatering and underwatering is with not enough water the soil will be noticeably dry. While overwatered plants will often suffer from mold growth on the surface of the soil, underwatered plants will have dry crispy soil and potting soil will turned crumbly.

A bird of paradise plant that has been underwatered over a period of time can develop hydrophobic potting soil. This is where a film will coat the soil particles and the water will flow straight over the soil. The plant will not be able to absorb the water and the leaves can brown on the tips.  

3. Low humidity

Low humidity can cause browning leaves beyond the affect of low water levels. Humidity is loved by bird of paradise and a low humidity level, particularly in the warmer months can cause the leaves to brown.

Regular watering can help to solve this problem and a good quality potting soil that drains well but still holds water can help this problem. An indoor humidifier is another option for those with lots of humidity loving indoor plants.

4. Lack of light

Bird of paradise plants love sunlight and a lack of light either outdoors or indoors will cause browning leaves. Placing your outdoor potted bird of paradise is a sunny position will help it to grow well. For indoor potted plants, place them near a bright window to as much sun as possible.

When planting out a new bird of paradise, pick the sunniest position possible in your garden. The plant will love the light and it can prevent browning leaves due to low light levels.

5. Tap water

Some tap water that contains a lot of chlorine and chemicals can cause the leaves to brown. Leave water out in a bucket for 24 hours to allow some of the chlorine to dissipate. This is more likely to affect indoor plants in smaller pots and no rain water.

6. Fungal leaf spot

Fungal leaf spot can occur on bird of paradise, particularly if soil is splashed onto the leaves. Fungal diseases can turn the leaves brown or black in spots eventually causing the leaf to die.

This can be caused by overwatering, transfer of disease from other plants or splashing of soil from the ground or pot up to the plant leaves.

Water at the base of the plant and surround it with mulch to prevent soil from getting on the leaves. This can help to reduce the chance of fungus transfer and infection.

Solutions to brown leaves on bird of paradise

Here are the simple steps to solve and prevent the problem of brown leaves step-by-step.

1. Cut off the affected leaves

Start by removing the brown leaves from the plant. Brown or damaged leaves won’t grow back and this can be the most effective way to remove fungal disease.

2. Water in the morning

For both outdoor and indoor bird of paradise plants, water them in the morning. This will allow the soil to dry out well and they will not sit for 12 hours overnight in soggy water.

As the weather warms up throughout the day, the soil will dry and this can avoid root rot which can cause brown leaves.

3. Water at the root zone and not the leaves

When you water bird of paradise, pour the water using a watering can or sprayer nozzle at the root zone. This will help to prevent water from sitting on the leaves which can encourage fungus or bacterial growth.

Mulching the plant will also help as this can prevent soil from splashing which can carry fungus. You can even mulch pots using a bark mulch to help prevent leaves browning.

4. Place outdoor bird of paradise plants in full sun

Placing your outdoor bird of paradise in the sunniest position possible will help to prevent leaf browning. The leaves will photosynthesize well, creating food for the plant and this will also help to prevent he soil from staying moist for too long.

5. Regular water

Bird of paradise love regular water so keep an eye on them in warmer weather. Check the soil first and if it is dry below 2 inches, then give the plant a deep water to reach the lower roots.

Watering the plant deeply will help to encourage it to send down roots which stabilize the plant and help to hold it in place.

6. Use a good quality potting soil and fertilizer

Using a good quality potting soil will help with drainage. If you are planting out into a garden bed, improve the soil first with compost and aged cow manure. The water will drain well and these will gently feed the plant.

Add a slow release fertilizer in spring, using pelleted chicken manure for outdoor plants and a slow release indoor fertilizer for indoor plants.

7. Don’t leave them on a pot tray

Not leaving potted plants in a pot tray where water is sitting will help to prevent rot and browning leaves. Pour out excess water from these trays or water the plant outdoors or in your laundry sink to allow it to drain before putting it back on the tray.

Bird of paradise leaves turning brown | Summary

Bird of paradise leaves will turn brown if they get too much water, not enough, not enough nutrient or if they lack sunlight. Make sure you plant them in the best soil you can as this will help them to grow well in the long run.

Bird of paradise plants can be re-potted after 3-5 years and even split to make more plants form a single rhizome. I have recently re-potted my bird of paradise plants into new concrete pots which match my pavers.

Happy gardening.