How Often to Water a Bird of Paradise? [Water Requirements Guide]

The watering needs of your plant will be individual as certain factors will increase or decrease your plant’s need for water. By the end of this article, you will have a good idea of how much water you should provide your plant.

A step-by-step guide to watering your Bird of paradise

  1. Using either a watering can or placing the plant under a tap, gently pour water over the soil. You want to do this slowly.
  2. Continue pouring water until it is visibly running through the drainage holes.
  3. Ensure all the excess water has been allowed to drain. If you have a saucer placed below your pot, ensure all excess water is dried up as sitting in water will lead to root rot.

How do I know when to water my plant again?

Always determine how wet your soil is before watering. This can be done by sticking your finger into the soil. The top few layers of soil should feel dry. Alternatively, you can pick up a moisture meter from your local nursery.

Watering needs when growing outdoors

As your plant will be exposed to more sunlight, experience more evaporation through the sun and wind, and likely grow much faster, it will require a great deal more water to be happy.

Where possible, your Bird of Paradise should be moved inside where possible once temperatures go below 21°C as she does not tolerate the cold well.

During the winter months, Strelitzia will go through a period of dormancy. Your watering should be decreased during these months.

Watering needs when growing indoors

Your indoor plant will grow at a slower rate than the one you may have placed outside your house. This means that your plant is using up less energy, which means it needs less water.

Is using tap water safe for my Bird of paradise?

Tap water is not recommended for watering your Bird of Paradise. These plants are very sensitive to chemicals in the water. A build-up of salt in your soil could result in the leaves turning brown at the edges.

In the same way, a buildup of chemicals like chlorine can change the pH level of your soil and might make it harder for your plants to absorb nutrients.

Where possible, try to use rain, distilled or filtered water.

Should I top water or bottom water my Bird of paradise?

Bottom watering, while popular for many plants, is not recommended for the Bird of paradise. As it is prone to root rot, we run the chance that the soil may absorb too much water.

This plant is also sensitive to chemicals, and if they build up in the soil, it will be unhappy.

Top watering is recommended, as it allows salt and other chemicals to be flushed out of the soil. A well-draining pot soil that is able to retain some moisture should be used. Water should be seen flowing from the bottom of the container.

Do not allow your Bird of paradise to sit in water as this could lead to root rot.

Do I need to mist my Bird of paradise?

Bird of paradise is a tropical plant and therefore loves humidity. A lack of humidity can cause your plant’s leaves to split, especially in winter when the air is drier.

Your plant will greatly appreciate being misted. You can do this by using a spray bottle.

If your plant is easily moveable, you can place it in your bathroom occasionally while you shower, as it will greatly appreciate the humidity from the steam.

Another way to provide these plants with humidity is to make use of a humidity tray. This is easily created by placing pebbles in a saucer filled halfway with water. You will need to be diligent with regards to how full you make your saucer.

Your Bird of paradise should never sit in water. An equally easy way to provide your plant with the humidity it needs is by using a household humidifier.

Can my Bird of paradise grow in water?

A Bird of paradise pup (a small plant offshoot) can survive in water for a few days, but it will not be able to grow in water permanently.

Things that may impact your plant watering needs

Seasonal Watering

During the spring and summer months, you can expect your Bird of Paradise to put out new growth. During these months, your plant will be thirsty. Your soil should be kept moist at all times but not soggy. The top 3cm–5cm should be left to dry out before watering again.

Watering should be gradually reduced during the autumn and winter months. During winter, the plant’s soil should be left to mostly dry out before watering again. The soil should never be allowed to fully dry out. If you notice the leaves are beginning to curl, that’s an indicator that your Strelitzia needs some water.


Strelitzias do not like being in drafty areas. They will also not do well when placed in the pathway or an air cooling system or heater. When placed in an environment that is too cold, their leaves will begin to curl.They do well in temperatures of 21°C and above. 

While they are evergreen, they do go through a period of dormancy during the colder months. Watering should be reduced during these months.


These plants love bright light. The more light they receive, the more growth they will produce. This means your plant will be busy using up lots of energy to push out those big, beautiful leaves.

Placing your Bird of paradise in a low-light area will cause it to go into a period of dormancy. Reduce watering and reposition your plant to a space that receives more light where possible.


As the Bird of paradise is a tropical plant, it will benefit from being misted, especially during the drier winter months.


It is important to use rich, well-draining soil. When watering, water should be able to flow freely through the soil. Using soil that holds too much moisture will lead to an unhappy plant.


Your Bird of paradise loses a lot of moisture through its large leaves. The more airflow the plant is exposed to, the quicker it will need to be watered again. Remember, this plant does not like being exposed to drafty areas, so keep this in mind when positioning it.

Soil composition

It is important to provide this plant with rich, well-drained soil. This is important because the Strelitzia is particularly fussy about sitting in water.

Size of the plant

Adult Birds of Paradise are more drought tolerant than young plants. However, due to their bigger leaves, they also lose water more quickly due to evaporation. Even though the Bird of Paradise comes from hot and dry South Africa, it will grow better and have more leaves if it is watered regularly.

Size of the pot

Strelitzias love having their roots slightly bound and do well in pots. The smaller the pot, the quicker your soil will dry out. The opposite is true — the bigger the pot. You will need to adjust your watering frequency once you re-pot your Strelitzia into a bigger pot.

Signs of Overwatering and underwatering

The Strelitzia puts out large, attractive foliage. She’s a quick grower and a thirsty plant, but one who doesn’t tolerate being waterlogged. Therefore, it’s important to find the right balance when it comes to watering her. 

A schedule is not recommended, but rather water as needed.

Signs of overwatering 

Your top 3-5 cm of soil should always be dry before watering again. If your plant is not receiving enough daylight, it may become more susceptible to overwatering. If this is the case, it is recommended to either move your plant to a brighter area or reduce your watering. 

Signs of underwatering

If your Birds of Paradise leaves are curling inwards, this could be an indicator that your plant is getting too hot and is trying to protect itself from water loss. This is a clear indicator that your plant is thirsty and needs a drink of water. If your plant is getting too hot, it is recommended that you move it slightly away from the window.

A moisture meter is recommended should you be concerned about under or over-watering.

How to revive your bird of paradise from over or under watering

Finding the right watering balance for your plant can be tricky at first, but is essential for a happy, healthy plant.

Revive your Bird of paradise after underwatering

This is a quick and simple fix. Simply feed your plant some water, preferably rain or distilled water. I’ve included a simple step-by-step guide on how to water your Bird of paradise above for you to follow.

Revive your Bird of paradise after overwatering

Do not water your plant until the soil is noticeably drier. If the soil is moderately soggy, remove some of the excess soil around your plant and replace it with fresh, dry soil. This will decrease the drying time.

In more severe cases of overwatering, your plant may succumb to root rot.

Root rot

If you suspect you have root rot, it is recommended to act right away to give your plant the best chance of survival.

You will be able to detect a musty odor when placing your nose near the soil.

All dead roots should be removed. Your plant should be repotted with fresh soil. Avoid reusing the old soil as this can re-introduce bacteria to your plant.

If the root rot is severe, your best chance of salvaging the plant is by splitting it up and propagating it.

Choosing a pot for your Strelitzia

Strelitzias love having their roots slightly bound and do very well in pots. For this reason, your pot should not be too much bigger than your plant’s root system. It should fit comfortably.

Do not force or bend the roots into any unnatural positions. This is a sign to size up your pot size.

Self-watering pots

If you are afraid of over or under-watering, then a self-watering pot might be a good solution for you. They also offer the convenience of not having to remember to water your plant.

As your Bird of Paradise is prone to root rot, you’ll want to keep an eye when you first pot her to make sure she is happy with the amount of water she is receiving. Adjust as needed.

It is recommended that if you make use of a self-watering pot, that you occasionally give your plant a good top-watering to get rid of any chemical build-up.

Watering your plant after repotting

Your Bird of paradise will need to be repotted every few years when it begins to outgrow its pot. After you have repotted your plant into well-draining soil, you’ll want to provide it with a drink of water. Be sure to adjust your watering schedule to keep your plant happy in its bigger pot.

Water-soluble fertilizer

Plants should only be fed during the growing season and never more than the recommended dosage as this can be harmful to your plant. Plants should be fed a water-soluble fertilizer roughly every 2 weeks or as indicated. Avoid fertilizing when your plant is in a dormant phase, as this could lead to your soil’s pH becoming acidic.