The bird of paradise is a popular plant in warmer tropical zones that can supply the right environment for the large, glossy leaves and unique blooms. One of the best areas for the plant is in Southern California, where it seems ubiquitous along sidewalks and promenades. However, gardeners have never been satisfied with only growing flowers that suit their region, and many have tried to recreate the necessary climate to keep a bird of paradise happy and healthy.
But what are you supposed to do when the leaves start curling and the petals lose their luster?
Bird of paradise plant leaves curling is a common issue for amateur and experienced gardeners alike. If you possess one of these flowers and are concerned about its health, follow this guide. It will help you identify the source of the problem and ensure your bird of paradise remains healthy.
What Should It Look Like?
People often enjoy the bird of paradise because of its exotic appearance. Also called the crane flower, the bird of paradise is distinct because of its long, spiked leaves and orange and blue flowers. These blooms should resemble a blue beak with an orange crest, similar to a crane. The leaves should be straight and healthy, with a dusty green hue. If your plant leaves have started curling or browning along the edges, it can be a sign of simple environmental issues or drastic problems. When trying to find an answer, it’s important to find the cause of the curling.
Identifying the Source of the Problem
If you don’t identify the source of the problem, then you have little to no chance of returning your bird of paradise plant back to health. Consider all factors, including the possibility of pests or the simple explanation of a poor environment. Make gradual changes and check on the health of the plant each day to see if it improves.
Pests and Disease
Bird of paradise plants are susceptible to numerous pests and diseases. If the leaves are curling, it could be a sign of an invasion by mites. Perhaps the most common is the spider mite, which will weave weblike structures between the leaves and petals. The easiest way to eliminate mites is to wipe down the leaves and stems with a damp cloth. You can also invest in safe pesticides if the problem seems severe.
Mites are the most likely pest, but another one is thrips. If you have thrips, wash the leaves with insecticidal soap. These bugs are difficult to see because they are only as wide as a sewing needle, so be diligent with care. The only other potential pest is scales, which can be removed with rubbing alcohol.
While bird of paradise plants can get fungi, these will not cause the leaves to curl.
Because the bird of paradise plant is meant for tropical climates, it can suffer when brought to the wrong plant hardiness zone. This flower is best suited to USDA plant hardiness zones 10 and 11, and it will struggle in anything colder. In other words, gardeners need to recreate that tropical/sub-tropical climate. For many, this means ensuring the plant receives full sunlight as much as possible, does not experience temperature drops below 70 degrees Fahrenheit, and receives adequate moisture.
If you are trying to grow one of these plants in any other outdoor environment, it will not last long. If the leaves keep curling and you live in a cooler, shadier region, then it might be time to move your bird of paradise indoors. Failing to do so often results in plant death once the weather turns colder.
Poor Soil Quality
The bird of paradise is surprisingly tolerant of a broad range of soil types. To have it struggling based on soil is a rare issue, but more common when the plant has been planted. As a tropical flower, the bird of paradise prefers nutrient-rich, well-draining soil in an area or container that allows for adequate root growth. This plant has large, fleshy roots that can easily overgrow in a small container and become trapped, preventing drainage and adequate nutrition uptake.
If your leaves are curling, first make sure the bird of paradise has enough room to grow underground. If the roots are running into the sides of a pot or becoming entangled in obstacles, then it’s time to transplant. If there is adequate room for the roots, then make sure you have the right type of soil. Sometimes leave curling can be the result of poor nutrition. Try adding plenty of decomposing organic matter around the roots and base to see if the problem clears up. If it doesn’t, switch to a soil that allows for more drainage.
Not Enough or Too Much Water
Finally, make sure you giving the bird of paradise enough water! Many gardeners underestimate just how much moisture these tropical flowers require. Ensure the soil around the flower is always damp during the spring and summer. If it is winter, allow the first two inches to dry before supplying more water. The bird of paradise does not like having wet feet, which means the roots should not be left to sit in soggy soil. If water remaining in the soil or pot proves to be a consistent problem, then it is likely time to transplant or perform a complete overhaul of the soil itself.
Finally, the bird of paradise is used to humidity. If the leaves seem dry but the soil is still damp, consider doing a light misting to give the leaves extra moisture without compromising the roots.
It is remarkably common to experience leaves curling on a bird of paradise plant. While these flowers are quite hardy, they still need to have their needs met. Ensure you are supplying adequate sunlight, moisture, and soil quality. If you are and the plant is still suffering, then check for pests and diseases. These are the most common reasons why you now have a sad bird of paradise.
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