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Bird of Paradise Leaf Won’t Open (Solved!)

Big fan-shaped leaves of the Bird of Paradise are perfect for bringing a little bit of the tropics indoors. Each unfurling leaf is a real treat because it can grow up to six feet tall with good care.

But, nevertheless, what happens if your poor Bird cannot get its new growth to open fully?

The leaves of Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia) will not open if the humidity is too low. A light mist is often all that is needed to bring them to life. Another possible cause is a lack of light and low water levels or insect infestations.

Low Humidity Cause the New Leaf to Not Open

Bird of Paradise New Leaf Not Opening Because of Low Humidity
Bird of Paradise New Leaf Not Opening Because of Low Humidity

The Bird of Paradise is an actual tropical bird. They’re native to the humid south of Africa, where they thrive in moist, hot jungles. They require constant, high humidity to maintain their leaves.

This is especially true in the case of new growth. The Bird of Paradise protects its leaves with various secretions and waxes.

The secretions will harden if the air in your growing environment is too dry. They will be unable to unfurl no matter how prepared they are for the new leaf to open.

Suppose your Bird of Paradise is otherwise healthy, but the leaves won’t open. In that case, the problem may be due to low humidity.


The ideal humidity level for Bird of Paradise is 60-70%. However, humidity levels in homes and workplaces rarely exceed 40%, especially air-conditioned.

Therefore, for the Bird of Paradise’s leaves to fully unfurl, it is necessary to raise the humidity level.

The quickest solution is to mist the leaf once or twice a day until it starts to unfurl. Then, spray the leaf from the tip to the end with clean water.

One treatment is often enough because they only need enough to remove the surface secretions.

Consider placing a pebble tray near your Bird of Paradise for a longer-term solution. Adding a humidifier to your home is also a good idea.

Lack of Light Cause Produce Less Energy for New Leaf

Growing a Bird of Paradise indoors necessitates lavish amounts of light; this is not a plant for dark corners!

Photosynthesize is a critical biological process that converts sunlight and water into energy.  Your plant needs this to grow new leaves, repair damage, and protect itself from pests and disease.

Without that light, your Bird of Paradise can’t work up the energy to show off that new leaf. So it will stay curled until the light gets better.


There should be as much direct sunlight as possible for the Bird of Paradise. As a general rule of thumb, six to eight hours of daily sunbathing is ideal.

The best place for your Bird of Paradise is in a bright area of your growing space. There are advantages to southern and eastern exposures and windows with a few hours of direct sunlight each day.

Consider a grow light if your growing environment can’t handle that much light due to latitude or aspect.

If you’re exposing your Bird of Paradise to direct sunlight, make sure it gets used to the light. Even if your indoor plant can handle a lot of direct sunlight, you should still give it some time to get accustomed to the new conditions.

To achieve this, gradually move your plant closer to its brighter new location. This will give it time to adapt and reduce the risk of sunburn.

I go into more detail about what light levels the Bird of Paradise needs here.

Leaf’s Hydraulic Cells Do Not Work Due to Lack of Water

Lack of Water Causing The Leaves Not to Open
Lack of Water Causing The Leaves Not to Open

Those Bird of Paradise leaves is an engineering marvel. The plant utilizes hydraulics to drive its growth to allow new leaves to unfold.

To enable your leaf to unfold, you must have sufficient turgor, which is the leaf’s internal pressure, in place. Water is a component of every cell’s structure.

However, newer growth relies more on the water to hold the leaves in shape as they fill out.

When it comes to your growing medium, does it feel loose in the pot, or is it crumbly? Does it have a light feel? If any of these conditions are true, your leaf may be stuck because of insufficient watering.


To begin, thoroughly soak your Bird of Paradise. Water from below if the specimen is small enough. There should be enough room in your tub or basin to accommodate the plant, and you should also have access to plenty of freshwaters.

To hydrate the soil from below:

  1. Remove your Bird from its saucer or tray and place it in the basin or tub.
  2. Make sure the water in the basin is at least halfway up the pot. But distilled or filtered tap water is acceptable.
  3. Allow the water to seep into the soil through the drainage holes.
  4. Maintain the water level in the basin by refilling it as needed. There is a lot of water absorbed by the growing medium.
  5. After about a half-hour, remove the Bird from the basin and allow it to drain before returning to its original position.

Rehydrating a thirsty plant with water from the bottom is the best method available. In other words, it gets moisture to the roots, which is critical because that is where it is needed most.

In addition, it gives the growing medium time to absorb the water. Watering from below may be impossible given how large the Bird of Paradise can grow. Take your time if you have to use overhead irrigation.

Dehydrated growing mediums hold water poorly, so restoring your mix to total hydration takes time.

For large specimens, I recommend tricking the growing medium’s surface with about a half-cup of water at a time, with intervals of about a minute between doses. You can add more water if the drainage holes have rips in them.

Bird of Paradise plants requires watering when the top two inches of soil have completely dried. However, keep in mind that over-watering can cause its own set of issues!

Sucking The Life from The Leaves by An Insect

Insects on Bird of Paradise
Insects on Bird of Paradise

If none of the suggestions above worked, the curled leaf might be hiding invaders that are slowly eating away at your defenses.

Unfortunately, Bird of Paradise’s young, curled leaves is both an inviting hideaway and a delicious dining establishment for insects pests.

Inspect your leaf for signs of pests; damage to new leaves is often challenging to detect. Check for yellowing at the ends and tips if you can see them.

Make sure to look at the mature leaves, as well.  The broad flat mature leaves will make pests much easier to spot.


If you’re dealing with an infestation on newly sprouted leaves, I’d recommend using a systemic insecticide. (Check out the prices on Amazon here)

It will be challenging to manage pests if they’re hiding in a curled leaf because most pest treatments require direct contact with the pest.

Systemic granules are added to the soil and taken up by the plant, allowing it to reach all the hidden spots where pests like to camp. It’s an excellent way for a furled leaf to target invaders that sprays or jets of water can’t reach.

Bird of Paradise New Leaves Not Opening

Bird of Paradise New Leaves Not Opening
Bird of Paradise New Leaves Not Opening

The new leaves of your Bird of Paradise may remain curled for some time if you’ve looked into these possibilities and still can’t figure out what’s going on.

For safety, the new leaf has been coiled. Although the Bird of Paradise thrives in the most ideal conditions, it takes its time nurturing its recent growth.

It takes a lot of effort and resources to grow such massive leaves. They don’t just appear out of thin air.

How To Help Bird of Paradise Leaf Unfurl?

Quick fixes for your bird of paradise’s closed leaves include the following common and effective options:

Low humidityA humidifier or misting can help.
Low light intensityMake sure the area is well-lit or use artificial lighting.
UnderwateringGive it a good soak with a lot of water
PestsClean the leaves with a cotton or soft cloth soaked in soapy water.

If your Bird of Paradise is in good condition, it’s best to just wait for those tardy leaves.

Then, when the time is right, a healthy plant with adequate light and humidity will let them out.

However, given that the leaves of an indoor Bird of Paradise are the main attraction, you might want to assist them.

The first step is to mist the curled leaf from tip to stem and let the moisture do its work for an hour or two.

Congratulation if it begins to loosen! Your leaf should be able to unfold naturally. All you have to do now is relax and take it all in.

A gentle sponge bath works wonders on stubborn leaves. A clean sponge or cloth can be used to apply tepid water to the entire length of the leaf.

Mild dish detergent can be added to the water to help. The natural secretions on the leaf are dislodged by the water, allowing it to open up to its full splendor.

Regardless of what you decide, avoid rubbing or tearing the leaf. The new leaf is fragile, so take your time and treat it gently.

How Long Does It Take a Bird of Paradise Leaf to Open?

It could take anywhere from a few hours to several days for the leaves of your bird of paradise plant to fully unfurl.

Again, it is dependent on the nature of the issue that your plant is experiencing.

If the problem is caused by low humidity, misting the area will resolve the issue in a matter of hours at most.

However, recovering from a severe case of dehydration and an infestation of pests will take significantly more time.

What If My Bird of Paradise Leaf Opens Too Soon?

Bird of Paradise leaves that open early in their development pose no danger. Unfortunately, few to no furled leaves are common in outdoor plants.

When your Bird’s leaves open early, this is a good sign. The plant doesn’t need to pamper its new growth because the growing environment is free of pests and well-tuned to its needs. Despite the uncertainty, it is confident that the young leaf can mature without curling up.

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