Brown Spots on Your Bird of Paradise? Here’s How to Fix It

A fungal disease is the most common reason your plant may be showing brown spots on its leaves or stems. Over-fertilization, pest infestation, or edema can all be reasons why your Bird of paradise may be displaying brown spots.

If action is taken as soon as it is noticed, your plant should be able to recover with mild treatment.

Advanced brown spots may indicate signs of decay, however. Unfortunately, the plant will not be able to recover from this.

Appearance of spots

The appearance of the spots on your leaves will be dependent on the severity and how far advanced they are. Both the size and color of the visible spots will give you a good indicator of whether your plant will be salvageable or not.

Brown spots on leaves

Brown spots can develop both on the edges of leaves and down the center. They are usually easy to notice, as the brown appears prominently on the green leaves.

The spots will be irregular in shape and may have a yellow outline surrounding them.

Catching spots while they are developing on the leaves gives you a good chance of salvaging the plant, as this means that the root rot is just beginning and you may be able to save your plant.

If spots appear on the edges of the leaves, the leaves may become dry and brittle. This can cause the edge to split, or oftentimes, to crumble off.

Brown spots on the stems

Browning of the stem is harder to identify visually. You will notice browning beginning at the base of the stem. It will gradually progress upwards.

Unfortunately, oftentimes, by the time the spots appear on stems, the roots are damaged and unhealthy.

Stems may become faded brown with time.

If left untreated, the stems will continue to decay further. If the root rot is advanced, brown spots may appear on the faded stems. On stems that still remain green, spots may appear white instead of brown.

What causes brown spots to appear?

There are a few possible causes why brown spots may appear on your Bird of paradise.

Root rot

Root rot is caused by a fungal infection. The fungal infection targets the roots of the plants. Healthy roots are firm and light in color. Unhealthy roots are soft and may fall apart at the touch.

Root rot occurs when a plant is overwatered. The plant cannot absorb all the water and is therefore left with waterlogged soil.

The moist environment creates the perfect conditions for fungi to thrive.

Trim any damaged roots. Repot your plant using new, clean soil. Do not re-use the same soil as this will re-introduce the fungi. Consider adding perlite or vermiculite to your soil mix to increase its drainage capabilities.

If you do nothing when a plant has root rot, the plant will eventually die.


Edema occurs when a plant absorbs more water than it is able to transpirate. This causes the plant to swell.

Edema is most commonly seen during the winter months or at the start of spring. The appearance of swelling or blister-like bumps may appear on the plant.

If the edema progresses, the blisters may be replaced with brown and yellow spots in their place.

To treat edema, either increase the plant’s access to daily sunlight or increase the temperature of the environment. You should also cut back on how much you water and check how well your soil drains.


The use of excessive fertilizer will cause your plant more harm than good. Fertilizer burn happens when too much fertilizer, pesticides, or herbicides are fed to the plant.

This is because these products contain salt and various chemicals that can harm leaf tissue when not correctly diluted.

Fertilizer burn can cause a delay in the growth of your Bird of paradise. The edges of leaves will begin to turn either yellow or brown. The roots will go limp and eventually blacken.


Small, fuzzy-looking, light brown spots that appear on both the steam or underside of a stem may be scale. The scale is very small and does not get bigger than ½ inch.

To get rid of scale, you can use either an insecticide or rubbing alcohol. If some leaves are particularly badly infested, they can be chopped off. Treat your plant weekly until all signs of scale disappear.