Yellow Leaves on Your Bird of Paradise? Here’s How to Fix It
If you’ve noticed several leaves on your Bird of paradise have begun to yellow, this is a sign something is a miss. Overwatering is the most common cause, but several other reasons can cause yellowing.
These include underwatering, suffering any type of stress, receiving too much light, or the presence of pests.
Sometimes figuring out the exact issue behind the yellowing is a bit tricky and you’ll need to cross off possible reasons as you go.
Common causes of Yellowing leaves
Sometimes figuring out the exact issue behind the yellowing is a bit tricky and you’ll need to cross off possible reasons as you go. Below are some common reasons why your Bird of paradise may be displaying yellow leaves.
Overwatering is the most common cause of yellowing leaves. When roots sit in soggy soil for an extended period, they are unable to receive oxygen. This leads to the roots being unable to perform their basic functions and they eventually die.
You’ll want to remove your Bird of paradise to examine the roots. If they appear soft or are a dark brown, you can be sure your plant is suffering from root rot.
You’ll want to treat your Bird of paradise for root rot and then repot it. Provided the root rot is not too advanced, your plant should be able to make a full recovery with some extra love and care.
If you are unsure whether your Bird of paradise is ready for another drink of water, stick your finger deep into the soil and feel around. While the top layers of soil may dry out quickly, the soil deeper down around your plant’s roots will take a lot longer to dry out.
Frustratingly enough, underwatering can also cause your Bird of paradise to experience yellowing leaves. This can sometimes lead to a bit of confusion while trying to establish the perfect watering habits.
If you know you have recently watered your Bird of paradise, then underwatering is unlikely the issue.
If you notice crispy, dry, or curling leaves accompanied by the yellowing, however, these are additional indicators that point towards underwatering being the culprit.
Investing in a moisture meter can take the stress and guesswork out of watering. Sticking your finger in the soil is less accurate, but will give you a good enough indicator of your soil’s moisture levels.
Edema is similar to overwatering and occurs when your plant takes up too much water. This causes your plant’s cells to engorge to be able to accommodate the excessive moisture.
As a result, you may notice watery bumps which are surrounded by a yellow halo.
Once the damage has occurred to the leaf, it cannot be repaired. Snip the leaf off at the base of the stem to avoid your plant wasting energy.
Your Bird of paradise will tolerate normal household humidity, but may struggle during the winter months when the air is drier. Your plant will do best with a humidity level of between 60% to 70%.
If you run a heating system during the colder months, consider investing in a humidifier and placing it near your plant.
Recently moved your plant? Or moving into the summer months? If so, this may be the cause of yellowing leaves.
Anytime a plant is moved from a lower light source to a brighter one, it should be done slowly, over several days to weeks in order to minimize the risk of your plant suffering from temperature stress, or even sunburn.
The Bird of paradise loves bright light, but too much of it can scorch your plant. This is more commonly seen in plants that are exposed to direct sunlight over noon, or younger plants in summer.
If your plant is showing signs of sunburn, consider moving it somewhere that receives a bit less light.
The Bird of paradise has little tolerance for the cold. Depending on how cold your winters get you may need to bring your Bird of paradise indoors.
When exposed to temperatures below 24°F, your plant is at great risk of being damaged. If exposed to this temperature for more than a few hours, your Bird of paradise will suffer visible damage.
In extreme cases, your plant may even succumb to the cold and die.
A lack of nutrients in your plants soil can cause the leaves to turn yellow. Luckily, the various deficiencies show different signs, which can help make getting to the bottom of the problem a bit easier.
- Iron – Yellowing will appear along the leaf veins, edges and tips.
Repot your plant in slightly acidic soil. Keep the acidity between 5.5 to 7.5 pH.
- Nitrogen – Yellowing leaves start at the bottom of the plant and progress upward.
Fertilize your plant with a nitrogen rich fertilizer. Always follow the instructions on the back of the bottle.
- Magnesium – Yellowing on the edges of leaves.
- Sulfur – New leaves turning yellow, while old leaves remain healthy.
- Zinc – New leaves show yellowing between the veins.
To increase the magnesium, sulfur or zinc, offer your plant a fertilizer. Be sure to read the ingredients to check all 3 are included.
Avoid feeding your plant during winter, as your plant will be unable to absorb the fertilizer which may worsen the issue.
Mineral build-up in the soil
If you make use of municipal water, this may be the cause of the yellowing leaves. You may also notice the appearance of brown spots dotted along them.
The water supplied by the local municipalities often contains extra chemicals and minerals such as chlorine, calcium and fluoride.
Over time, these chemicals can build up in your plants soil, causing it to become a harmful environment for your plants roots.
To avoid this, make use of collected rainwater, or distilled water.
Shock after repotting
After repotting, your plant will likely suffer some type of shock. Along with slight yellowing, you may notice droopiness. Your Bird of paradise should bounce back on its own after a few days.
To help with the transition, place your plant somewhere that will accommodate its needs. Bright light, normal to high humidity and sheltered from any wind.
Although the Bird of paradise is not particularly prone to pest infestations, they are not immune either. Always regularly inspect your plants for any signs of pests or disease.
- Aphids – Suck sap from your plant. If you notice an influx of ants, this may point to aphids as they leave a trail of honeydew which attracts them.
- Spider mites – Spider mites may appear on your plant as tiny clusters of brown spots. They thrive on Bird of paradise plants that are dehydrated.
- Whiteflies – Appear as fuzzy dots on the leaves, typically found on the underside.
- Scale – Scale appears as brown patches on the leaves. Scale damages plants by sucking the sap from them.
Provided the infestation isn’t too bad, most of these issues are solved with either horticultural or neem oil. Using a cotton ball soaked in the solution, gently rub your plant on the affected areas. Repeat weekly until your plant shows no sign of any pest for at least 2 weeks.
While providing your plant with a regular feeding is encouraged, one should always follow the recommended dosage.
A buildup of salt from fertilizers is harmful to your plant and will result in leaves that wilt, followed by turning yellow and eventually brown.
If the suspected build up is minimal, you can flush the soil out.
Try to use rainwater or distilled water where possible, as you don’t want to add more salt or chemicals.
Make sure you allow your plant time to sit and drain fully before returning it to its normal spot. Failure to do so may result in your plant sitting in water, which can lead to root rot.
If you have not followed the dosage directions previously, it is recommended that you repot your plant using fresh soil to avoid further damage.
The reason your plants’ leaves are turning yellow could have many possible causes. Fortunately, most are fairly simple to fix, and should have no long term effects on your plant once treated.