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How Much Light Does Bird of Paradise Need? (Solved!)

If you’re a fan of large foliages and beautiful flowers then the Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae) is your plant. As it possesses big gorgeous leaves and blooms beautiful flowers that’ll pull your home together and make it look like a tropical paradise. 

But sadly, you realize your bird of paradise leaves happens to be drooping, browning, splitting and the new leaves just won’t open up. All because the sun is too intense or just not enough. 

This discovery has probably left you wondering “how much light does a bird of Paradise Need?” at least for optimal growth:

Bird of Paradise is a tropical plant that loves the sun, but there are situations where it thrives and where it survives. For instance, a thriving condition for Bird of Paradise is when the plant enjoys 6 to 8 hours of natural sunlight, with its rays possessing intensities that fall between 400 – 800 FC (Foot Candles). Any value above or below the given ranges will force the bird of paradise to survive instead of thriving. And if the conditions get worse the plant could suffer severely in the end.

The bird of paradise could suffer because of too much light or not enough light? Whichever the reason may be, this article is going to explain comprehensively how to handle sunlight issues with your Bird of paradise, so it can grow with ease and probably bloom flowers sooner.

Can Bird of Paradise Grow in Shade?

Bird of Paradise is a hardy plant that can grow in a shady or lightly shaded environment (indoors). It even attains ultimate beauty in such an environment, preferably in the middle of summer. 

As it’ll lead to the production of beautiful large dark green leaves and longer stems. Although this sounds like a peachy deal, it does come with a price. Which is your bird of Paradise Blooming its flowers at a much slower rate than when it’s in full sunlight. 

But if its bogus and vibrant beauty is your objective, then placing your bird of Paradise in a shaded environment is a much better option than direct sunlight.

As it risks growing smaller leaves with a subjectively bland green hue, shorter stems, and an increase in vulnerability to drying out.

Note: even though it may be rare, your bird of Paradise can bloom flowers. But there must be enough sunlight, great room humidity, and room temperature as well.

How Many Hours of Light do Bird of Paradise Need?

The bird of Paradise does enjoy full sun rays, but still the rays can be very dangerous for your plant. How? Bird of Paradise enjoys 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight.

Any further exposure beyond that range should be considered dangerous. As it would lead to the slow drying out, drooping, and rotting of your bird of Paradise.

Where Should You Place Your Bird of Paradise Plant?

To ensure the proper growth of your bird of Paradise you need to place it in the right location. As failure to do so can lead to tedious maintenance and probably intense damage to your bird of Paradise plant. So when choosing the location of your plant, there are factors you should consider:

Direction of Sunlight

Like every other plant life, sun rays are important for growth and development. But not all plant life shares the same level of “thirst” for bright sunlight. That is why some prefer direct sun-rays and others prefer indirect sun-rays. 

For the hardy Bird of Paradise, both indirect and direct sun-rays are sufficient for good growth. So when you want to place your plant, make sure the area has ample sunlight(from east to west facing windows if indoors). Be it direct (e.g. window side without curtains) or indirect (window side with curtains).

Season 

Apart from the direction of sunlight, another important factor to consider is the season. As the bird of Paradise should avoid highly concentrated direct sunlight during the winter, to prevent scorching of the leaves. 

So it’s best to keep the plant in a position away from intense direct sun-rays from the widows. If outdoors, then it should be brought into your home.

Room Conditions 

When talking about conditions, elements such as room humidity and temperature should be in mind. Especially when you’re looking for the best environment to place your bird of Paradise. So the ideal setting is a space with normal room humidity and a temperature between 65 – 80°F( 18 – 27°C). 

So keep your plant away from drafty spots or spots nearby temperature-changing sources such as a fireplace, air conditioners, or air vents.

Read this article to get rid of black spots on bird of paradise.

How to Check How Much Light My Bird of Paradise Is Getting

Moving your plant from one point to another (especially indoors) is the easy part. But the most tricky part is to Gauge the intensity of the light that should reach your plant. As you can’t use bare eye-sight to measure the intensity of the light alone. The result will always be inaccurate by a mile. 

Luckily for you, there are several methods you can adopt to determine the intensity of the light that reaches your plant with better accuracy. So you can provide your bird of paradise with the perfect conditions that’ll ensure its continuous growth and development.

The Hand Shadow Test

This one of the quickest tests to perform if you don’t have much time to work on locating the best spot with great lighting. It involves your hands, their shadow, and sunlight rays. 

Here are steps on how to perform the hand shadow test: 

Step 1:  Find the Perfect Spot 

Scout a room of your choice or backyard for a perfect spot to place your plant. It must be where sun-rays can easily access your plant. A suitable spot indoors should be an area near a window side, preferably an “east to west facing” window side so it can enjoy safe lighting.

Step 2: Take out your Hand 

Put your hand out in the direction of sunlight, in such a way the light rays display a shadow of your hand.

Step 3: Measure its Brightness 

Now that your shadow is visible, the next action is to visually measure its intensity. A good way to do this is to note the thickness of your hand’s shadow.

For instance, if your hand’s shadow happens to be crisp and well defined then the light rays supplied are very bright (high lighting). Which is perfect for your bird of Paradise to grow and bloom flowers. 

But if your hand’s shadow happens to be blurry, or more see-through with an unclear outline, then the lighting is very low.

Note: The hand shadow method isn’t so reliable, but you’re better off with this method than relying on bare visual detection.

Using a Lux Meter

If you’re looking for raw data, then you should get your hands on a LUX meter. This device will provide you with accurate readings on the amount of light that’s coming in from the Sun towards a particular area.

Here are steps on how to use it:

Step 1: Activate the Device 

The Lux meter consists of a device that displays readings connected via wire to another device that takes the readings which are called the sensor.

Take the cap off the sensor and push the activation button on the reading device. There’s another button which is labeled LUX/FC. Either in LUX or FC (foot-candles).  Select foot-candles as it’s the best way to measure light intensity.

Step 2: Select the Range 

Now your device is already taking readings from the low ambient light bouncing around the room. Once high lighting strikes the sensors, you’ll probably see a reading.

This means the range from which the device is measuring is too low. And you need to increase it. You can do this by pressing the range-labeled button. At this point, you’ll start to detect double to triple-digit readings.

Step 3: Place the Sensor

To correctly measure the amount of light touching the area you selected for your plant, make sure the sensor points towards the source of the light or the wall from which the light rays bounce. You shouldn’t point it towards the plant or as you’ll just be reading the light rays that bounce off your plant.

Step 4: Note your Readings 

If your readings fall below 150 FC then the light is quite low. But if it falls between 200 to 400 FC then it’s medium-level lighting which can be perfect for your bird of Paradise. The same goes for 400 – 800 slightly higher FC.

Level of lightRange (in FootCandles)
low50 – 150
Slightly medium200 – 400
medium400 – 800
high800+

Signs That Your Bird of Paradise Isn’t Getting Enough Light

It is possible for your plant to still suffer from low lighting, despite placing your plant near a window or even outdoors. 

The reason could be due to an interrupted growing phase or just poor intensity of the light that falls on the plant. 

Whichever the reason may be, one thing’s for sure is that you’ll be able to detect it easily. Here are 8 major signs that indicate your plant isn’t getting enough lighting:

Extended Internodes or Leggy Growth

This is a common problem with most indoor plants and the bird of Paradise is no different in this regard.

Because if ample sunlight isn’t falling on it, then the plant has no choice but to elongate its stems or Internodes to ensure it receives enough sunlight to grow. 

But at the same time, the plant becomes thinner, until its structure can’t hold up the leaves and stems. Thus causing your bird of Paradise to be leggy.

Leaning Towards Light Sources

This is similar to leggy Growth but involves your plant leaning to one side for the sake of ample sunlight.

For instance, the branches, stems, and leaves would bend the plant towards the direction of the sun-rays.

Apart from bending, a part of the plant could be well, while the other suffers. Thus causing inconsistent growth even after correcting its position.

Producing Small Leaves

All of a sudden you discover that your bird of Paradise has issues growing normal size leaves. But instead, it sprouts out smaller leaves. 

The reason for this problem is that your plant lacks ample energy to generate larger leaves because it didn’t photosynthesize properly (due to low lighting).

No New Growth

The only excuse for no new growth is if the season is winter. As it’s expected for plants to go Dormant. Even at some point, certain plants can still find a way to grow in the winter.

But if your bird of paradise fails to grow for a significantly long time, then it’s surviving instead of thriving. This issue indicates your plant needs enough lighting to produce ample energy for growth.

Abnormal Leaf Color

When the plant lacks ample sunlight it’s only natural for your plant to increase its leaf sizes, to receive the right amount of sunlight for its growth.

Thus overworking your plant and causing it to appear dull instead of that bright bluish-green hue.

Browning Leaves & Tips

Browning leaves and tips are a common problem that most plants encounter when there is insufficient light falling on their leaves. As a result, it begins to discolor and brown, eventually disintegrating.

Note: it can also mean a lack of water supply.

Leaves Drooping

Birds of Paradise are known to grow large foliages, which is why it’s so easy for them to droop when there isn’t enough light falling on the plant. This usually occurs during the winter, where it’s cloudy and snowstorms block the sun.

Bird of Paradise Leaves Drooping
Bird of Paradise Leaves Drooping

Soil Not Drying Out for Weeks

Another clear indication that your plant lacks good lighting is when you discover it takes quite a while before the water in your plant dries up completely. 

Especially when it occurs in the middle of summer. This means there is no or not enough sunlight to evaporate the soil of its excess water.

How to Provide More Light

Now that you know the signs of low lighting in your bird of Paradise, you should understand that there are two ways to tackle all the issues before they become a severe problem. And these ways include:

  • Finding the best location for Bird of Paradise 
  • Make use of artificial lighting

Best Location for Bird of Paradise

The perfect spot for your bird of paradise must have good access to ample sunlight (direct or indirect), room level humidity, and safe temperature levels.

The hardest part would be finding a better lighting spot and you can do this with the help of a special device known as a Lux meter.

Which helps to measure the light intensity of the rays falling directly from the sun or due to after bounce.

Artificial Lighting

If you’re at that point of failing to find the right spot that provides ample lighting for your plant, the next step would be to acquire a special device known as a grow light. 

This device releases certain lightwaves which are specifically suitable for plants to easily photosynthesize, grow and develop. 

I recommend going for an LED grow light, as they provide your plant with ample energy to photosynthesize without burning the plant. As a regular fluorescent lamp would.

Signs That Your Bird of Paradise Is Getting Too Much Light

Yes, there’s what you call too much of a good thing, and most like things alive, your bird of Paradise is no different. As too much sunlight can be dangerous for its development. 

In the case of the bird of Paradise, it needs just 6 to 8 hours of growth and development. Anything higher than range becomes a real problem for your bird of Paradise.

Wilting During the Hottest Hours of the Day

Your Bird of Paradise enjoys good sunlight but for only at most 8 hours of a day. Once the clock hits 3 pm then your plant is no longer benefiting from sunlight, but rather wilting at a much slower rate. 

If your plant is outdoors with no tree shade or any form of shade in slight, then it could get scourged from the excessive sunlight. 

As the leaves would turn brown, curl up, droop, and fall off. The same could happen to indoor plants that are continually exposed to sunlight for longer periods.

Leaves Curling

Even before the adverse effect of sunlight, birds of Paradise leaves curl up. As it’s a natural response to the plant’s conservative use of water.

So from that observation, it is clear that it can happen once again, even after it’s fully mature. How? Sunlight can cause the leaves to curl once its intensity is higher like the plant’s surrounding temperature (happens usually in the middle of summer). 

The plant will react equally by increasing its transpiration rate, which leads to excessive loss of water from the leaves. Thus causing them to curl up.

Brown Leaf Edges or Tips

The clear reason for this problem is the lack of ample water in the soil. And this occurs because of excess sunlight and heat which work hand in hand to instigate the evaporation process of the soil. 

This means with enough time in the sun, your current watering schedule could be useless. Thus leading to the improper flow of water to the leaves and over time the browning of their edges.

Yellowing and Thickening of New Growth

The yellowing of the leaves could be due to excessive drying out of the soil or direct sunburn. 

Whichever reason it may be, the effect will harm the plight of new growing leaves as they’ll come out thick to prevent excess water loss.

Excessively Compact and Stunted Growth

Due to excess sunlight (usually in the middle of summer), the leaves could find it hard to keep up with the intense transpiration it’s experiencing. And in response to such conditions. The stems and leaves will shrink.

How to Ensure Optimum Light for Bird of Paradise

Given the bird of paradise is a tropical plant, it’s only natural for it to thrive easily in sunny spots and survive excessive sunlight to a point. 

But to ensure your plant grows and develops properly, you need to ensure two key factors are in place concerning sunlight. They include light Duration and light intensity.

Light Duration

Bird of Paradise loves the sun but it can’t handle too much of it. As sunlight is beneficial to the plant for only 6 to 8 hours max. Anything above this range is simply dangerous for its plight. 

So if your plant is outdoors then it should have shade. And if it’s indoors, move it a bit away from the window side, to prevent excessive sunlight.

Light Intensity

To ensure your bird of paradise grows with the right quality of light, you need to track the intensity of the rays that get to it. And the best way to do that is by using a Lux meter.

Make sure the rays falling on the plant are within the range of 400 – 800 Foot candles or lux. Anything above this will lead to overwhelming your bird of paradise.

How? The excess sunlight will convert to heat, thus increasing the rate of transpiration in such a way it ultimately affects the plant’s water reserves.

Final Words 

Bird of paradise is a hardy plant that can handle uncomfortable sunlight conditions but in turn, its potential developments end up being sacrificed. 

But from now on, that should no longer be an issue as I’ve provided you with information on how to identify if it’s suffering from too much or too little sunlight. 

And how to create a suitable condition to ensure your plant enjoys good quality sunlight for easy growth and probably faster flower blooms.