How Do You Revive an Overwatered Bird of Paradise?

Signs your Bird of paradise is overwatered

Below are some common indicators to look out for that may signal your plant has been overwatered.

Yellow leaves

If you notice your Bird of paradise has leaves that are beginning to yellow, this is a sign that your plant may be overwatered. You’ll likely notice the yellowing beginning on the lower leaves first.

Browning leaves

While crispy, shriveled brown leaves are a sign of overwatering, brown leaves can also indicate overwatering.

If you notice leaves beginning to brown along the edges, followed by yellowing streaks along the veins, this is a clear indicator that your Bird of paradise has been overwatered.

Leaf wilting or drooping

Noticeable wilting or drooping of the leaves on your Bird of paradise may signal your plant is overwatered. When soil stays soggy for an extended period of time, the roots suffocate, causing them to die.

Without a healthy root system, the plant becomes dehydrated, which is why we see the drooping.

Soggy soil

This is an obvious one. If your soil is very wet or soggy when it hasn’t been watered recently, it is a strong indicator that your plant might have been overwatered.

Roots that are subjected to soggy soil will eventually suffocate and drown. This will make them unable to perform basic functions that help to support the plant.

Prior to watering your plant, always stick your finger into the soil to establish whether it has dried out.

While the top few layers might appear dry as they are exposed to light and air, the soil that is much deeper will take significantly longer to dry out.

Foul smell

If you detect a musty or unpleasant odor radiating from your plants’ soil, this is an indication that there is something wrong.

A lack of proper air flow and water drainage, combined with overwatering, can often introduce both bacterial and fungal pathogens into your plants soil.

Excessive leaf splitting

While some leaf splitting is normal when it comes to a Bird of paradise, excessive splitting can indicate your plant is unhappy and something is amiss. 

One common cause of this is overwatering your Bird of paradise, which causes increased stress on the plant.

Mold on the soil surface

If mold appears on the surface of your soil, this is a clear indicator that your soil is staying damp for long periods of time. This opens up the possibility for mildew and mold to grow, which could be harmful to your plant.

Consider moving it to an area that receives more light and reducing your watering habits.

How to revive an overwatered Bird of paradise

If you catch your plant in the early stages of being overwatered, the fix is relatively headache-free. A severely overwatered Bird of paradise however, is much more challenging.

Minor overwatering

Simply stop watering. Allow your plants’ soil to dry out a bit more than normal. If the overwatering was very mild, this should do the trick.

If the soil is constantly wet, consider scooping out some of the wet soil surrounding the outer layer of the pot. Replace it with clean, dry soil. This will help your soil dry out quicker overall.

Presence of root rot

If you suspect root rot has already set in, fast action must be taken to prevent your plant dying. Remove your plant from its current pot and shake off any soil left on the roots.

Using a pair of sterilized scissors, or secateurs, clip off any visibly unhealthy roots. This includes soft, mushy, brown or black roots.

Dead roots may fall away at the touch. Healthy roots will be firm and pale in color.

Remove any mushy foliage that is unable to support itself. Cut the leaves off as close to the base of the plant as possible.

Make use of a fungicide to prevent the recurrence of root rot. Copper and sulfur-based products are very effective when it comes to preventing root rot from occurring again.

Clean out your pot, washing it well with hot soap and water. Replant your Bird of paradise in the pot, using fresh soil. Avoid reusing old soil as harmful bacteria may be reintroduced to the plant.

Severe root rot

If root rot is severe, your plant may be largely unsalvageable. As a last resort, you can try to propagate your Bird of paradise.

To do this, remove all the dead or dying roots from the plant. Select a division that still has some healthy looking rhizomes with offsets emerging from them.

Divide the plant by slicing the chosen sections with a sterilized knife or blade.

Place each new plant in its own pot, filled with a rich, well-draining soil. After 8 weeks, your plants should have established roots. Signs of new growth should be visible.

It is now safe to repot your Bird of paradise into a bigger pot if you so choose.

How to avoid overwatering

Provide more light

Place your Bird of paradise somewhere that receives bright light. Receiving more light will help your soil dry out much quicker, ensuring you aren’t left with soggy soil.

Use a well-draining soil

The soil you use can make a big difference to your plants’ overall health. Be sure to use soil that has good aeration and drainage.

Consider adding perlite and bark to your soil mixture, if it does not already contain them.

Adjust your watering based on the seasons

During summer and spring, your plant will require more water as the temperature will be higher.

Your plant will also be growing the most during these two seasons and will need more water than in winter in order to grow.

During autumn and winter, you will notice a slowing down of your plants’ growth. If you experience especially cold winters, your plant may experience a dormant period where growth stops almost all together.

Make use of terracotta pots

If you have a heavy watering hand, consider making use of a terracotta pot for your plant. Terracotta pots allow soil to dry out much faster because they are porous.