Leaves Curling on Your Bird of Paradise? Here’s How to Fix It

Bird of paradise is known for its striking foliage. A healthy Bird of paradise has large, firm, upright leaves. Curling leaves can be an indicator that your plant is experiencing some sort of stress.

Most of the time, curled leaves are caused by a lack of water or humidity, an incorrect pH level in the soil, or temperature stress.

Reasons why your leaves may be curling


A common reason your leaves might be curling is a lack of moisture in your soil. Although the Bird of paradise is fussy when it comes to damp soil, the plant has very large foliage and loses a lot of water through them.

Incorrect lighting

Too much light

This is more commonly seen in younger plants. If your plant is receiving a bit too much sunlight, its leaves may begin curling or wilting. You may also notice burns on your plants’ leaves.

To remedy this, you’ll want to move your plant to a place where it receives slightly less light. The afternoon sun is considered harsher than the morning sun, so it is perhaps best to place it somewhere where it will receive light in the morning if it is still young or struggling with the intensity of light. 

Provide your plant with a drink of water as well, and monitor it for several days in its new location. Adjust as needed.

Temperature stress

Birds of paradise grow well in warm climates but don’t tolerate the cold and can die in frost.

When exposed to very cold air, the plant may begin to look brittle and display curling leaves. Your plant may die if exposed to temperatures below freezing.

If you live in a region that experiences very cold winters, it’s recommended you bring your Bird of paradise inside for the winter months.


Poor quality soil can cause your plant’s leaves to curl, especially soil that drains poorly or lacks any nutrients. Similarly, soil that is very alkaline may cause your plant to suffer from chlorosis.

Chlorosis is characterized by a yellowing of the leaves, but the veins remain green. The curling of the leaves is caused by the plant’s inability to absorb all the necessary microelements it needs from the soil.

To ensure your plant doesn’t suffer from a lack of nutrients, you will need to provide it with a well-draining, airy substrate.

Adding compost is a good idea because it will make the soil a little bit more acidic, which will make chlorosis less likely.

As the Bird of paradise prefers slightly acidic soil, clay, sandy or loamy types of soil are the preferred choices. The soil can be a general-purpose potting soil, but it should be mixed with perlite to help it drain better.

Root rot

Overwatering your plant will lead to root rot. Root rot takes place beneath the soil, but may be evident in curling leaves. Root rot occurs when there is too much moisture in the soil, causing a plant’s roots to become waterlogged.

If the soil stays too wet, the roots can’t do their job of taking in water and giving the plant nutrients.

To minimize the risk of ending up with soggy soil, provide your plant with a container that has good drainage. Adding perlite to your soil may also help filtrate it.

If you find yourself with a case of root rot, you can find a detailed guide here on how to save your Ponytail Palm.

Pests and Diseases

The Bird of paradise isn’t particularly prone to pests or diseases, however, curling leaves can be an indicator that you are dealing with pests. The most commonly seen pests when it comes to the Strelitzia are:

Mealybugs are most commonly seen on Bird of paradise and cause damage to the leaves.

A good habit to form early on is wiping your plant’s leaves down. This keeps the dust off them as well as allows you to keep an eye out for pests. Should you notice any, wiping down the leaves with neem oil should keep pests away.

Transplant stress

If you have recently repotted your Bird of paradise, you may notice it curling. Transplant shock or stress is normal while your plant tries to adjust to its new environment.

After your plant has been repotted, you can provide it with a drink of water. Monitor your plant. You should see it begin to perk up within a week or two of replanting it.