Skip to Content

Why Is My Bird of Paradise Dying? (Signs, Causes and Solutions)

Taking care of the bird of paradise isn’t very difficult, but it can die on you at any time because of problems with how you care for it or how it grows in your home.

It’s critical to understand the warning signs and how to save your dying bird of paradise. But, don’t worry; your plant expert will be with you every step of the way.

Bird of paradise death is primarily caused by root rot due to overwatering. When the top 2-3 inches of soil are dry, water thoroughly. Make sure to remove the diseased roots and then repot in a well-draining growing mix to keep it alive. Keep an eye out for insect infestation, lack of light, or temperature fluctuations as potential threats to the death of birds of paradise.

How Do I Know If My Bird of Paradise Is Dying?

A seemingly healthy bird of paradise can decline and begin dying in a matter of days. Unfortunately, if you’re not careful, you may miss some warning signs.

If you notice any of the following warning signs, your bird of paradise may be in trouble:

– Bird of Paradise Leaves Yellowing

Bird of Paradise Leaves Yellowing

Be aware that a few old leaves may turn yellow as part of your plant’s normal aging process.

However, the yellowing of many usually blue leaves portends trouble. Overwatering, improper lighting, and nutrient deficiency are just a few of the causes of yellowing leaves.

Most yellowing of the outer leaves signifies that your bird of paradise needs more water or that the air is too dry and drafty.

The widespread yellowing of leaves is also likely caused by a lack of essential nutrients like zinc, manganese, nitrogen, and iron.

Overwatering is the worst and most common cause of yellowed bird of paradise leaves. It’s never suitable for your plant if root rot sets in. The yellow leaves will wilt dramatically, turn brown or develop brown spots, and eventually fall off.

– Browning or Wilting Leaves

Root rot is always to blame for browning and wilting bird of paradise leaves. It usually happens if your Strelitzia has been sitting in stagnant water for an extended period or if the growing medium becomes too wet or soggy.

Leaf browning and wilting can, of course, be caused by bacterial and fungal diseases. They can wreak havoc on foliage and stems before infecting the root system if they aren’t taken care of in time.

If the wilting leaves are soft, mushy, and smelly, you should be on the lookout.

– Brown, Rotten Roots

Signs of Root Rot

If your bird of paradise is on its last legs, chances are the roots are rotten or dried up, both of which point to poor watering practices.

In addition, allowing the soil to dry to bone damage the roots because the roots are squeezed and damaged.

On the other hand, too much water in the soil will suffocate the roots, preventing them from receiving adequate oxygen. As a result, the roots will be damaged, making them more vulnerable to root rot diseases.

Roots that have been damaged will eventually die off and decay. Over time, they’ll turn a reddish-brown or black color and become mushy or pliable to the touch. You can easily peel the outer layer from the inner layer by pulling on these roots.

The base of the plant shows the most obvious signs of root rot. Toxic sour odors will waft from the bottom of your bird of paradise as it weakens and decays.

– Mold and Mildew Overgrowth

Your bird of paradise may be dying from a fungal infection if you notice white powdery gunk on the foliage or stem. Overwatering is the most common cause or enabler.

An additional red flag is the presence of mold or mildew on top of your growing medium.

– Brown Spots and Holes on your Bird of Paradise Leaves

If your bird of paradise has brown spots on its leaves, that could mean it has leaf spot diseases that could kill it. However, bugs or holes in the foliage are often a sign of a pest infestation.

When left unchecked, these pests can overwhelm and kill your bird of paradise. In addition, insects like mealybugs and spider mites can also cause your plant to become infected by deadly diseases.

– Distorted Leaves and Stunted Growth

When your bird of paradise is starved of moisture or nutrients, you may notice small, curled, or deformed leaves.

You have to feed and water it right away because it’s barely surviving. If there are no new growths, the same holds true.

Why is My Bird of Paradise Dying?

One or more of several factors can cause the death of your bird of paradise plant. I’ve outlined the most common reasons for this here:

 [1] Overwatering Suffocates the Root System (Causing Root Rot)

Due to their delicate nature, bird of paradise roots must have constant access to moist conditions. However, roots require oxygen to thrive and function properly.

Therefore, if you overwater your bird of paradise, the soil will become waterlogged, preventing aeration, which will weaken the roots, causing the plant to die.

A soggy medium will also encourage the growth of anaerobic bacteria, which love to attack weakened birds of paradise roots.

There is a risk of root rot, which can devastate your plant’s health if it is not addressed promptly.

Symptoms of an Overwatered Bird of Paradise

Here are some symptoms and signs that your bird of paradise is dying from overwatering:

  • Yellowing leaves – This usually starts with the lower foliage and spreads to other parts as the situation worsens.
  • Browning of the leaves – Browning is often associated with wilting. It indicates that root rot has set in, causing the leaves to turn brown, particularly at the tips. Despite constant irrigation, wilting will persist.
  • Curled leaves – Due to the poor performance of the roots, the foliage will curl or wither in an attempt to conserve moisture.
  • The unpleasant odor emanating from the growing medium – A sour odor emanating from your bird of paradise indicates root rot.
  • The potting mix remains consistently moist – This means that your bird of paradise soil will stay wet for at least five days after irrigation.

How to Fix a Bird of Paradise Dying from Overwatering and Root Rot

Detection of root rot should be a priority. Here are the steps I used to successfully fix my dying bird of paradise due to excess water and root rot:

  1. Unpot your bird of paradise gently and inspect the roots for signs of decay.
  2. Remove affected roots with sterile scissors or pruners (they’re mushy, fragile, brown, and probably stink). You should only leave healthy roots.
  3. Brush away as much soil as possible from the healthy root system. Rinse them under running water.
  4. Dip the healthy root system in a mild fungicide or hydrogen peroxide solution. To kill off harmful microbes, I frequently use cinnamon or activated charcoal.
  5. Remove enough leaves to equal the number of roots removed. Begin with damaged and older leaves, avoiding healthy ones. This ensures that the plant’s remaining roots will support it.
  6. Repot your bird of paradise in a suitable pot with plenty of drainage holes. Make use of a compost mixture or a well-draining potting mix. (Check the latest price on Amazon here).
  7. Place your newly potted bird of paradise in an area that receives bright, indirect sunlight, and keep the soil moist but not wet.
  8. It will take four to six weeks for your bird of paradise to develop new healthy roots. Make a habit of checking the soil every 2-3 days.

[2] Insect Infestation

Spider Mites and Scale Insect Infestation
Spider Mites and Scale Insect Infestation

Insects are the second most common culprits among the factors that can cause your bird of paradise to die. Unfortunately, your Strelitzia is more vulnerable to these pests when it’s weak or its growing conditions aren’t ideal.

Spider mites pose a severe threat. If you don’t notice them, these pests can inflict serious harm on your bird of paradise long before you do.

Insects such as whiteflies, aphids, mealybugs, and scales enjoy invading Strelitzia plants and can help mitigate leaf damage. Fungus gnats can harm your plant, but this is rare.

Crown borers are extremely rare, but they can cause the death of your bird of paradise. (Source: University of California)

To determine whether insect infestations are to blame for your bird of paradise’s death, look for the following symptoms:

  • Look for holes in the foliage or brown/yellow spots on the leaves.
  • Look for signs of larvae, eggs, or adult pests on the soil’s surface.
  • Check for bugs on the undersides and tops of each leaf and between/along stems.
  • You should look for delicate webs and white fluffy stuff on the backs of leaves to see if they have spider mites.

How to Get Rid of Bird of Paradise Bugs

When you notice pests on your bird of paradise, quarantine it right away.

Following that, I use one of the three helpful treatments listed below:

  • Applying horticultural oil spray (Check the latest price on Amazon here) thoroughly once every week
  • Spraying with dilute neem oil spray (Check the latest price on Amazon here) once every 7-10 days
  • Wiping down the leaves with rubbing alcohol at 7-10-day intervals

[3] Underwatering Disrupts Physiological Functions

While it’s more common for birds of paradise to die from overwatering, signs of dehydration should also be on your radar.

Fortunately, underwatering is easier to detect because a wilting plant will greet you. In addition, the soil will feel crumbly and bone-dry.

Repeated or severe underwatering can quickly kill your bird of paradise. Still, it will undoubtedly result in damaged leaves over time.

It is important to remember that a variety of factors can cause your plant to wilt and die from lack of moisture:

  • Improper watering 
  • Hot or high-temperature conditions
  • Your plant being root-bound

Solution

There’s no need to worry about the bird of paradise wilting due to dehydration, as it recovers quickly after being watered.

It’s best to let it soak in the bathtub. Alternatively, water it until liquid runs out of the drainage holes.

[4] Temperature Stress

If water issues aren’t the problem, temperature stress could be the culprit. This is especially true if the leaves are wilting or browning at the edges.

Your Strelitzia will not tolerate temperatures below 60°F (15°C) in the winter. Cold and frost will both damage it. They are also sensitive to temperatures above 100°F (38°C).

Solution

Temperatures of 65-80°F (18-26°C) are ideal for a bird of paradise. Keep an eye on the temperature in the area where your bird of paradise is sitting with a thermometer (check Amazon for the latest price here).

Take into account all potential sources of cold and hot drafts.

[5] Bird of Paradise Diseases

The most common diseases that attack birds of paradise plants cause root rot. These are usually caused by fungi in the soil, such as Pythium, Armillaria, and Rhizoctonia spp.

Strelitzia plants can occasionally develop leaf blight infections, which are usually caused by various bacteria and fungi.

Gray mold (Botrytis blight), bacterial wilt, and fungal leaf spots are all diseases that can cause a slew of brown or black lesions/spots on the foliage.

These spots will quickly spread, resulting in the death of your bird of paradise.

Solution

Pruning the affected leaves and plant matter from your bird of paradise is the best way to get rid of it.

You can use a fungicide or bactericide to get rid of the spores.

But for birds of paradise, the majority of chemical treatments rarely work. How quickly and thoroughly you remove infected leaves will affect your Strelitzia’s chances of survival.

[6] Birds Of Paradise Dying After Repotting

These tropical houseplants are delicate, and they don’t like having their root system disturbed.

You may need to repot your plant if it begins to wilt within a few days of the drastic transplant. This is because your plant’s root system may be temporarily impaired, resulting in a lack of water and nutrients.

How to Prevent Transplant Shock when Repotting Bird of Paradise

Repot your bird of paradise only when necessary, such as when it becomes root-bound.

Reduce the number of ways your plant can lose moisture, such as increasing humidity or removing it from a hot or sunny location.

What Do You Do When a Bird of Paradise Flower Dies? 

Trim away the dead or spent flower at its base. It is typical for these dying blooms’ blue and orange hues to fade away. Snipping off the stalk if there are no more blooms is an option, as well.