Overgrown Bird of Paradise? Here’s How to Handle it
The Bird of paradise is a fast grower that puts out large leaves and, if you’re lucky enough, stunning colorful blooms.
While one of the plants’ appeals is its fast growth rate, it can also be a downside if your space is limited.
Luckily, if you should find yourself with an overgrown Bird of paradise, you can easily size it down a bit with some easy pruning.
What is pruning?
Pruning is done for different reasons, including aesthetic appeal, keeping the plant’s size contained, and improving the general health of your plant. It usually involves removing a section of the plant.
For each new shoot a plant puts out, energy is needed to support the growth. By cutting a section of the plant off, that energy can be focused elsewhere.
For this reason, pruning your plant can keep your plant healthy and encourage new growth.
When is the best time to trim your overgrown Bird of paradise?
Your Bird of paradise will go through a dormancy period during the winter months when the temperature drops. During these months, avoid trimming your Bird of paradise because recovery will take longer.
Pruning will cause some stress to your plant, so it is best left for the growing season.
What tools are required?
To trim back your Bird of paradise, you’ll need the following:
- Rubbing alcohol or a disinfectant of some kind to sterilize your tools.
- A pair of good quality garden shears. Where possible, try to get a pair with a nice, graspable handle and an angled blade. This will help you get through those thick stems.
- Gloves. Gloves help protect you from any biological organisms in the soil, like spiders and other bugs, that could cause you harm.
Although the plant does not have thorns, constant friction from the rubbery plant can cause abrasions to the skin. It will also protect your skin, should it come into contact with any of the sap. This should be avoided as it is mildly toxic.
When removing leaves, be sure to cut as close to the plant’s base as possible. Avoid snipping off just the leaf, as the remaining stem is unlikely to be able to produce additional leaves, resulting in wasted energy being fed to the plant’s stem.
A Bird of paradise grown outside will receive more light than one grown indoors, and is therefore likely to grow much larger and bushier.
As the plant matures and grows taller, it is normal for the leaves at the bottom to become brown and ragged looking. You may wish to remove these, even if height is your biggest concern.
Your indoor Bird of paradise will need very little pruning compared to one grown outdoors. Any spent flowers should be chopped off at the base of the stalk.
If your plant is becoming too big, you can cut the tall stems down. Growth from the center of the plant will be the newest and largest. Be careful not to remove too much growth.
Where possible, only remove as much as is needed.
Carefully select which stems you will cut by sight and touch.
Cut stems which will allow more light to reach the plant, or overly bushy sections.
Any dying or soft leaves should be removed, as these will only waste your plants’ energy.
How to cut back your Bird of paradise
- Visually identify any unhealthy or damaged leaves on your plant. Got any spent blooms? Chop these off as they will waste your plants’ energy.
- If your plant has lots of growth in the middle, begin thinning out the plant from the center. This is likely where your biggest leaves are.
- Work slowly, chopping stems at the base. Slice at an angle.
- Remove and discard any clippings from the plant.
Avoid leaving them laying around, as this will make an attractive home for insects and can lead to a pest infestation.
When pruning, working slower is better. The amount you choose to remove is up to you and should be determined by your individual needs.
You can always remove leaves at a later stage, but once they are chopped off, there is no turning back.