Leaves Not Opening on Bird of Paradise? [Here’ What to Do]

The Bird of paradise is commonly grown as a houseplant. Its extra large foliage sets it aside and helps add a statement piece to any room. But what is one to do if your new foliage suddenly appears stuck and won’t unfurl? Read on to find out some quick fixes.

How long does it take for a Bird of paradise leaf to open?

This is dependent on your plants’ growing conditions, but it could take a leaf anywhere from several hours up to several days to fully open. Never try to force a leaf to open, as this may damage it.

Reasons your Bird of paradise leaves aren’t opening

Lack of sufficient light

The Bird of paradise grows massive leaves and therefore requires a great deal of sunlight in order to unfurl them.If your plant lacks sufficient light, it will not be able to produce the required amount of energy needed in order to open up the leaf.

Where possible, provide your plant with as much sunlight as possible. Anything above 6 hours of daily sunlight will give you a happy plant that is able to unfurl its leaves without issue.

Low humidity

The Bird of paradise is native to South Africa where it experiences a warm, moist and humid environment. While the Bird of paradise will be able to tolerate normal household humidity for the most part, you may notice leaves are struggling to open if your winter air is particularly dry.

The Bird of paradise has a built in defense mechanism to keep its leaves healthy. It does this by releasing various secretions and different waxes. If the environment lacks sufficient humidity, these will harden. This will cause the leaf to be unable to unfurl.

Where possible, provide a humidity level above 60% for your Bird of paradise. This will help the leaves to unfurl easier.

Increasing humidity

There are several easy and effective ways to increase the humidity levels in your home or office space. An easy method is to lightly mist your plant twice a week.

Already using a saucer? Place some pebbles in the saucer and fill it with a shallow amount of water.This will increase the humidity, but be sure that your plant does not touch the water, as allowing it to sit in water could result in root rot.

Got a busy schedule or are super forgetful? Invest in a humidifier and place it next to your plant. Besides occasionally topping it up with water, you won’t have to worry about your plants’ humidity levels again.

Lack of water

While the Bird of paradise is not fond of sitting in soggy soil, it doesn’t like drying out too much either.

While water helps your plant to create food through photosynthesis, it also helps to keep the plant turgor.

Turgor is important because it acts like pressure, encouraging your plants’ leaves to open up and hold their shape.

If your finger or moisture meter is coming up dry, it’s time for a good watering.

Drench your plant evenly with water until it begins to run freely from the drainage holes at the bottom. Remember to drain any excess moisture out of the tray if you have one placed beneath your Bird of paradise.

Pest infestation

Unfortunately, sometimes our plants fall victim to pests. Be sure to regularly check your plant, including the underside and any leaves that may be stuck. Uncurled leaves create the perfect cozy and sheltered home for bugs and insects.

Check for any signs of yellowing on the leaves. This can be the first indicator of a pest presence and help you catch the infestation quickly.

If you spot pests on your plant, you can purchase an insecticide from your local nursery store, which should take care of the issue.

Low temperatures

If temperatures drop very low, your plant may become dormant and halt growth all together.

In extreme temperatures, your Bird of paradise may suffer from frost damage which will harm your plants leaves, flowers and any forming buds. 

To avoid this, bring your plant indoors for the winter and keep it away from drafty areas.