Bird of Paradise Light Requirements – How Much Sunlight?
Bird of paradise like full sun, but will thrive better with a spot that receives some shade. Plants that are in full sun are likely to produce multiple flowers.
Plants that have access to some shade throughout the day are known to flower slightly less, but the flowers put out by the plant are bigger.
If you are providing your plant with direct light, it should get 3-4 hours of direct sun per day.
If you are providing indirect light, it’s best to place your Bird of paradise somewhere it will receive at least 6 hours of bright light.
Where should you place your Bird of paradise?
To keep your plant happy and healthy, you’ll want to find the perfect spot. Providing it with too harsh a light will leave you with scorched, damaged leaves. Too little light and your plant will be slow to grow
The Bird of paradise is commonly grown as a houseplant, mostly for its big, attractive foliage. To help your plant put out new growth, you’ll want to place it in a bright spot.
Strelitzias do best with 6 hours of bright indirect light. They rarely bloom inside, so if this is your goal, try placing your Bird of paradise outside in a bright spot.
The Bird of paradise is quite tolerant of sunlight. They become increasingly more drought tolerant and hardy with age, but younger plants may still be susceptible to burn.
The afternoon sun may be too harsh and could leave burn marks on the plant, especially younger ones.
A position that receives morning sun, bright indirect light, or partial shade is better suited to the needs of the Strelitzia. Plants grown outside will grow at a faster rate and may flower if mature.
A young plant will not bloom, regardless of the amount of light it receives.
Summer / Spring
Your plant will be pushing out the most growth during this period. During the summer months, it may be necessary to adjust your plant’s position where possible.
Direct afternoon sunlight during the summer months may damage your plant’s foliage. It is recommended that during the summer months you limit your plant’s exposure to direct afternoon light as it will likely scorch your leaves.
Winter / autumn
If your plant is situated outside on a patio or the like, you may want to consider bringing it inside for the colder months and placing it in front of a window as the Strelitzia does not tolerate cold weather.
Place it near a bright window, where it will receive as much light as possible.
While it remains evergreen, the Bird of paradise will go through a dormant period during winter so expect to see little to no growth during these months.
If you receive poor lighting indoors during winter, you may want to consider investing in a grow light.
Leaning towards light sources
This is a sign your plant is in need of more sunlight or has uneven access to a light source.
The first step to take is to evaluate your specific situation. If your entire plant is receiving light, then you need to provide more or a brighter light for your plant.
Strelitzias need upward of 6 hours to be happy. If your plant is partially shaded, to avoid it growing asymmetrically, try rotating your pot on a weekly basis so your plant is exposed to an even amount of sunlight. This will help your plant push out more even growth.
Additionally, rotating your pot will help your soil dry out evenly as well.
Producing Small Leaves
Plants lacking adequate sunlight will not be able to produce enough energy in order to put out healthy growth, instead pushing out small, immature foliage.
If you notice your plant is pushing out smaller leaves, try increasing the amount it receives. If this fails to make a difference, it may be due to poor soil quality.
Your plant may additionally also appreciate being fed some nutrients if it is struggling to push out mature leaves.
No New Growth
Similar to producing small leaves, if you fail to correct your plant’s lighting conditions, it may stop producing new growth altogether. If this is the case, your plant is struggling.
If no new growth appears for an extended period of time, it might be a good idea to find a new spot for your Bird of paradise to sit.
The only exception to this rule is winter. During winter, your plant may experience a period of dormancy where you can expect minimal to no growth.
Lack of Flowers
Birds of paradise plants need lots of bright light to thrive. They are native to the harsh, oftentimes unforgiving landscape of South Africa.
They only bloom once they mature, and are situated in brightly lit areas, receiving upwards of 6 hours of sunlight per day.
For this reason, sometimes despite one’s best effort, they will not flower indoors. Strelitzias have to be roughly 5 years old before they flower.
Should you not have access to a brightly lit spot, it is recommended you supplement your plant’s lighting needs with artificial lighting.
Abnormal leaf color
If your plant does not receive enough light but has pushed out large new growth, your plant has likely over-exerted itself. This will be evident by dull leaves instead of the normal, deep green-blue color.
To remedy this, provide your Strelitzia with more lighting. Additionally, you can feed your plants some nutrients to help them recover.
Browning leaves and tips
Browning tips could signal that your plant is not receiving enough light. Brown marks on your leaves can indicate your plant has been scorched by the sun. Although the Bird of paradise is a sun-loving plant, younger plants can sometimes struggle with the intensity of the sun, especially during the hotter months.
Unfortunately, any foliage that has been scorched is lost as there is no way to salvage it. It is recommended that one cuts off any sunburnt leaves to avoid your plant wasting energy.
Wilting During the Hottest Hours of the Day
Wilting towards the middle of the day is an indicator that your Bird of paradise is struggling with the heat.
If your plant is placed near a window, try moving it back, or consider placing it somewhere in your house where it will receive bright indirect light.
Your plant might appreciate a tiny drink of water too. Remember to adjust your water quantity accordingly if you are planning to expose your plant to a different amount of light.
The leaves on your Bird of paradise drooping could mean two things. The first is that it could be thirsty. If watering your plant doesn’t solve this issue, then lighting is likely the cause.
The Strelitzia’s large leaves are a showstopper. So it’s no surprise they require a lot of energy to hold them up.
Your plant needs to receive adequate lighting to ensure it can go through the process of photosynthesis and produce enough energy to do this.
If your plant does not receive enough lighting, depending on conditions, the leaves may further split to provide light to the lower leaves.
If you have a relatively young plant and notice its leaves curling, this can signal your plant is struggling with the light intensity and needs a drink of water.
This is most commonly witnessed shortly after repotting your plant, but if you notice this occurring to your Bird of paradise in its everyday spot, it’s likely you need to move it to a place receiving a bit less light.
If your plant is more mature, then curling leaves may rather indicate a problem with your soil’s pH level.
Yellowing and Thickening of New Growth
If you notice your plant’s new growth is yellowing, this could be a result of your plant receiving too much light and getting sunburnt.
This is commonly seen in younger plants and becomes increasingly less likely with age. If your plant is mature and you experience this issue, then it is likely caused by your soil drying out too fast.
Your plant’s new growth will be affected negatively by this, coming out thicker in order to protect itself from excess water loss.
Excessively Compact and Stunted Growth
Should your plant be exposed to too much sunlight, its leaves and stems may shrink.
This occurs as your plant attempts to reduce the high amounts of transpiration it’s experiencing through the leaves.
You’re likely only to experience this in the middle of summer, and more commonly in younger plants as their tolerance to sunlight increases with maturity.
If you are concerned your plant is suffering from stunted growth and growing compactly, you can try placing it in a spot where it receives a bit less light.
Signs That Your Bird of Paradise Is Getting Too Much Light
Bird of paradise can tolerate direct light but smaller plants may struggle. Brown scorch marks indicate your plant is sunburnt.
The afternoon sun is harsher than the morning sun, so if your plant is still young, it is best to provide it with indirect, or filtered light.
Signs That Your Bird of Paradise Is Not Getting Enough Light
The Strelitzia is a light-hungry plant. If you provide your plant with too little light, the leaves may become discolored.
Your plant may not have enough energy, resulting in new leaves not developing.
When exposed to too low of light, the Strelitzia plant will have difficulty processing its water. You may notice it becoming leggy, and become much paler in color.
How to Provide More Light
Another great option would be to introduce a grow light to your plant. A grow light can provide your plant with the additional lighting it needs to thrive.
A grow light provides plants with the right type of light they need in order to grow.
An ordinary household bulb will not help your plant to grow, as they do not emit the same type of light your plant needs.
When picking a grow light for your Bird of paradise, you’ll want to choose one that provides your plants light in the range of 2000-5000 FC.
Worried about ugly grow lights?
I’ve included a helpful video by Planterior Decorator below on discreet grow lights. She breaks down different types of lighting, how to use them, and reviews some popular grow lights on the market.
Should you not want to use a grow light nor be able to offer your Bird of paradise sufficient light indoors, they do quite well outdoors, although you should be cautious when introducing your plant to a new light source as the sudden change could cause your leaves to become scorched.
Native lighting conditions
The Strelitzia is native to South Africa. It occurs in abundance along the coast of Kwa-Zulu Natal, The Eastern Cape, and the Western Cape.
On average, South Africa receives over 2500 hours of sunshine per year. This works out to an average of 6.8 hours of sun each day, which explains why lighting is such an important need of Strelitzia.
Can Strelitzia grow in low light?
Bird of paradise plants will not grow very well in low light conditions. It will be happiest in a location that receives six hours of indirect sunlight.
Growing your plant in low light may cause foliage issues and put your plant at risk for root rot. It may struggle to put out new foliage and old leaves may split dramatically.
Acclimatizing your plant to new lighting
When changing your plant’s lighting source, you’ll want to do so with care. Moving a plant to a higher light area should be done slowly, over several days to weeks in order to gradually introduce your plant to the increase in light strength.
Moving a plant from inside to outside, or to a place that receives stronger light without doing it gradually will likely result in damaged foliage.
You may need to move your plant from a higher light to a lower light for various reasons. Your plant should be able to adapt to a spot that receives slightly less light relatively easily as you don’t pose any risk of burning.
Monitor your plant afterward for any signs of inadequate light stress and adjust your plant’s position if necessary.
Can I use a regular light bulb as a grow light?
No, a regular lightbulb will not work. Although it might help your plant a tiny bit, you run the risk of possibly burning your plant as normal bulbs give off heat.
Additionally, the spectrum of light that normal lights produce, is not the same as needed for plants to grow.
Regular household incandescent light bulbs give off more yellow and green spectrums of light. Blue and red spectrums are more beneficial to your plant, promoting growth and flowering.
Can I put my Bird of paradise plant outside in the summer?
If you would like to move your Bird of paradise outdoors, it should be introduced slowly over several weeks so as to not scorch your leaves or shock your plant with the sudden environmental changes.
You can click here, to read an in-depth guide on growing your Bird of paradise outdoors.