Why is My Bird of Paradise Leaning? | Plus Easy Ways to Straighten Plants

Bird of paradise plants will lean towards the light source. If your plant is getting most of the light from one direction or if it is shaded by a nearby tree then it will lean to reach the sun. Bird of paradise plants that are growing in pots that are too small can become top heavy and lean over.

When we bought out house we had 5-6 pots of very large and very root bound bird of paradise plants. The plastic pots were breaking out at the bottom, the large roots had wound tightly and the plants were leaning.

These plants had run out of soil space and were shaded by a huge gazebo right next to them. All of these problems caused the stems to lean. They were reaching towards the light and the pots could no longer hold them up.

This plant is the same one as the one in the picture above. It has straightened up now that it is getting consistent sunlight.

This article will explore the top causes of a leaning bird of paradise plants and how to fix your plant once it is leaning.

Why bird of paradise plants lean and easy fixes

Here are the top causes of bird of paradise plants leaning and how to fix each one.

Sunlight coming from one direction

The top causes of bird of paradise stems and flowers leaning is the direction of the light. If sunlight is coming from one direction from a short period of time the plant will lean towards it.

My bird of paradise plants was jammed between a gazebo and a wall. This mean that it only got direct sun for 2-3 hours per day. All of the stems, leaves and flowers ended up pointing towards the direct sun, causing the whole, heavy plant to lean.

This plant was on an extreme lean. It was pot bound and only getting light on one side.

Pot is too small and light

Bird of paradise plants that are growing in pots that are too small can easily lean over. Light pots that are tight around the roots will cause the plant to become top heavy.

This will cause the top stems to lean over and the plant can fall completely. This can damage the stems, tear the leaves and break the pot.

Repotting this leaning bird of paradise is key to growing new, healthy and straight stems.

My bird of paradise plants were so pot bound when we moved in that the roots had broken the pot and grown out of the bottom.

I gave the roots a severe prune and popped them into new pots. They are thriving now and flowering in next season.

Moving it to a pot that it too large

Bird of paradise plants need the perfect balance of soil to keep them upright in pots. If you transplant them to a pot that it too large, with too much soil, the plant will lean.

When you are transplanting your bird of paradise plant to a new pot, aim for one that is 2-3 inches wider and deeper than the current one.

If there is too much excess soil the roots will not stabilize, and the plant can lean. The soil can also become too wet and cold and can cause the roots to rot.

Choose a premium potting soil when you repot your plant and press it in gently to hold the plant in place. Water the plant in immediately to get the soil to fill any air pockets and stop the plant from leaning.

Choose a pot that is a few inches wider and deeper than the current pot the bird of paradise is growing in.

Not removing old leaves and flowers

Bird of paradise plants can become top heavy if the old leaves and flowers are not removed. This can cause the plant to lean over if the pot and root system is too small.

Prune your bird of paradise plants regularly to remove old leaf stems and flowers. The old leaves will generally die back first on the outside of the stems. Cut them back as low as possible and pop them in your compost.

This will keep the top of the plant strong, upright and stop it from leaning over.

Bird of paradise plants can be trimmed right back and they will regrow new straight leaves.

Inconsistent watering

Bird of paradise plants growing in the ground and pots can lean over if they are getting inconsistent water. If plants are being watered on one side or are experiencing long periods of drought they can start to lean.

Plants that get loads of water on one side, from irrigation or from down pipes will develop stronger roots and stems on one side. This will cause them to lean and grow lop sided.

How to fix a leaning bird of paradise plants

Here are my easy tips to fix leaning bird of paradise plants.

Move bird of paradise to a full sun position

Consistent sunlight is key to straightening your bird of paradise plant. Once they are getting sun from all sides the leaves and flowers will naturally grow straighter instead of leaning. You don’t need to force the plant to change its position, just expose it to consistent sunlight and the plant will straighten itself.

Move the plant so it gets exposure to sun as early in the morning as possible and late in the day. At least 6 hours of sunlight is great but more is better.

Cut off any old leaves and flower heads that are starting to die back. The plant will replace these with new, straight stems now that it is in consistent sunlight.

I did this with my largest bird of paradise plant. After repotting it was still leaning but over a few weeks of even sun exposure it gradually straightened up. This plant now has 8 flower spikes ready to burst open now that it is winter.

Repot root bound plants

Bird of paradise plants can become top heavy and lean. For very root bound plants where roots are growing out the bottom or the pot is breaking it is best to repot them. Choose a pot that is 3 inches wider and deeper than the current pot and use premium potting soil.

Start by layering the soil on the bottom. Take the opportunity to gently prune damaged roots and move it into the new pot. Backfill the pot with potting soil and press it in gently. Water the plant well and move it into a full sun position.

The best time of year to repot bird of paradise plants is spring or fall. This will give them a chance to establish before the weather gets too hot or cold.

Why is my bird of paradise leaning? | Summary

Bird of paradise plants will lean if they are getting inconsistent light, if the pot it too small or if they have become pot bound. Repotting plants in broken pots with fresh soil and removing old growth will help them to straighten up. Give them consistent light throughout the day and the stems will grow up straighter.

Happy growing.