Bird of Paradise can be difficult to grow due to its large size and water-loving leaves. Because of its size, it will require a large amount of resources to maintain.
How often do we water the Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia nicolai) with big leaves?
It is best to water a Bird of Paradise plant when the top two inches of its growing medium have become dry. Watering needs more frequently in warm weather and less frequently in cold weather. Watering needs are influenced by the potting medium quality, pot size, and local climate and humidity.
Soaking the soil entirely and then letting it dry once a week in summer is enough, with much less watering needed as the seasons change.
So, let’s look at how you can figure out the best watering schedule for your Bird of Paradise plant.
Factors That Impact Watering Bird of Paradise Frequency
The Bird of Paradise is at its peak during the summer months. Allowing new leaves to grow will require more water.
At this time, they utilize the sun’s light and the photosynthesis process to convert water and air into sugar.
As a result, they’ll need more light and water to make their food, increasing their energy output.
Also, in the summer, Bird of Paradise’s growing medium will have difficulty retaining sufficient moisture for it.
There may also be changes in temperature and humidity that lead to faster evaporation depending on the location.
The Bird of Paradise’s growth slows as the seasons change, and the weather cools, and it may even go into dormancy.
This is because a dormant plant necessitates very little water. Furthermore, the cooler weather reduces evaporation, with nearly every drop remaining deep in the soils.
In Spring and Fall
During these months, pay close attention to your Bird’s changing needs and make necessary adjustments to your watering routine.
As the season progresses, you’ll need to increase the frequency and volume of your watering, but in the early spring, you’ll need to water less frequently.
There are some exceptions to this rule for fall when temperatures are still warm enough to necessitate regular watering, but this becomes less of an issue as winter approaches.
The Bird of Paradise requires a lot of energy and resources to flower! If you’re lucky enough to have flowers, look at the soil while admiring the blooms.
As the spathes open and new flowers emerge, you may need to give the plant a little extra water on a more irregular basis.
Size of The Plant
The smaller the Bird of Paradise, the less water it needs.
Big Birds with many leaves use more water in their biological functions, but they also lose more water from their leaves through transpiration and evaporation.
In general, a larger surface area allows for more evaporation of water.
Temperature and Humidity
The Bird of Paradise is a plant that responds well to seasonal changes in temperature and humidity.
On the other hand, indoor plants don’t experience nearly as dramatic a shift in temperature and humidity as their outdoor counterparts.
The Bird of Paradise prefers a local humidity of around 70% and thrives in temperatures ranging from 50 to 77°F (10 to 25°C). They thrive in a warm, moist environment.
The Bird of Paradise can thrive in most indoor environments thanks to the climate control systems.
However, these systems also dehydrate the air, reducing the relative humidity to only 10-20%.
Even more aggressive systems may cut that even more. This causes the Bird to become dehydrated from the leaf tips inward.
Increasing the relative humidity around the Bird of Paradise can help mitigate some of this danger.
A humidifier is ideal because it is a dependable and consistent source of high moisture for the Bird. (Check out the prices on Amazon here)
Location of The Plant
When a Bird of Paradise is basking in the early morning sunbeams, its moisture reserves will be depleted more quickly than when it is hidden away in the shadows.
Additionally, placing the plant near a vent will help it dry out faster because of the constant, gentle ventilation it will receive.
The more light and heat the plant is exposed to, the more water it requires.
Type and Size of Pot
Think of the Bird of Paradise pot as a big bowl or bottle. If the plant isn’t huge, a large pot will be better at retaining moisture than a smaller one.
Because of this, small pots are not ideal for large specimens, as they will exhaust their resources much faster. Additionally, the type of pot you use has an impact.
Porous materials, such as terra cotta wick moisture away from the growing medium, allowing it to dry out evenly throughout the container without overly drying it.
This is a great way to avoid root rot, especially if you’re a heavy waterer, but it does mean that plant will need to be watered more regularly.
In contrast, non-porous materials, such as plastic, glass, or glazed ceramic, do not behave and tend to retain water more efficiently.
Type of potting Mix
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, is the medium in which the Bird of Paradise grows.
Loose, free-draining mixes like perlite, gravel, or sand are better suited to retaining water because they lack organic material and water-saving additives like vermiculite and water crystals.
How Do You Know If A Bird Of Paradise Needs Watering?
Test Moisture Level Directly
The most straightforward method is to stick your finger into the medium and poke around. There is no need to re-water if the soil is cool and moist.
Some people like to use chopsticks or skewers for this purpose. If the stick comes out dry 2-3 inches deep, it’s time to water.
A moisture meter can tell you what’s going on beneath the surface of your pot if you’re afraid of getting your hands dirty. (Check out the prices on Amazon here)
Potting Soil Color
After some practice, you’ll get a better sense of how your medium will look when it’s dry. For example, lighter-colored growing mediums are usually thirstier than darker ones.
Take the Pot’s Weight into Account
Compared to a dry pot plant, a well-watered one is significantly heavier. Because water adds to the pot’s weight, a light pot is almost always empty.
The Bird of Paradise relies on water stored in its cells rather than its tough plant fibers to maintain its upright posture and strength.
Photosynthesis and other biological functions require water, and as the plant dehydrates, it uses the water stored in its body. When that water is gone, the leaves droop.
Brown Leaf Tips
If you leave it too long between waterings, the Bird of Paradise will begin to dry out from the leaf tips.
This is especially true if your growing environment also lacks humidity. An almost crispy leaf tip forms on the outside edges and extends inwards.
Browning or Yellowing of the Leaves
Your watering routine isn’t working correctly if your plants start to turn yellow instead of their usual brilliant blue-green.
The poor Bird of Paradise is desperate for some attention, most likely thorough hydration.
Nevertheless, if yellowing leaves are the only sign of trouble for your Bird of Paradise, be wary of over-watering.
Leaves Drying out
Dehydration and eventual death are specific outcomes if the Bird of Paradise is regularly denied access to freshwater.
Initially, the leaves appear brown, but they will dry out from the tips inwards if they aren’t addressed.
Finally, they will turn brown and papery from the tips to the stem, limp and lifeless.
Signs of Over-watered Bird of Paradise
Many of the symptoms of under-watering are almost the same as those of over-watering.
This is because the over-watering Bird of Paradise will quickly cause root rot, and the plant loses its ability to transport water to its leaves.
As a result, they dehydrate in the same way that a Bird that receives no water would.
The soil is the best way to tell the difference. If you overwater a growing medium, it will be very wet and smell bad.
There may even be mold or fungi growing on the surface. The pot is heavy, and poking a finger into the sodden medium is a harrowing experience!
Here are the common signs of overwatered bird of paradise you should look for:
- The Potting Mix is Wet or Soggy
- Yellowing Leaves
- Presence of Root Rot
- Increased Leaf Splitting
- Browning Leaf Tips and Edges
- Leaf Wilting and Drooping
- Moldy Cover on the Soil Surface
In this article, I go into greater detail about how to diagnose and treat an over-watered Bird of Paradise.
How to Water Bird of Paradise
If you want to get the most from your Bird of Paradise, I suggest giving it a good soak when the top two inches of the soil have dried out. However, filtered or distilled water can be just as adequate as rainwater.
During the growing season, I like to water from below once a month to ensure that the water reaches all plants. Here’s how to go about it:
- Place the Bird of Paradise in a basin or tub at least halfway up the pot’s height.
- Fill the basin halfway with clean water to submerge the pot.
- Allow the Bird to sit in the water for 15 minutes to 30 minutes. Top up the water as needed to keep the level stable.
- Remove the plant from the basin and leave it to drain for another fifteen minutes before returning it to its original location.
This is an excellent method for soaking the soil thoroughly and delivering water directly to the plant’s roots.
There’s no need to worry about watering the Bird of Paradise’s other tasks from above. As a bonus, it’s a convenient time to fertilize for the season.
Water the plant slowly and gently until you see drips emerging from the drainage holes, and then stop adding water to the surface.
Additionally, self-watering pots (Amazon link) are ideal for those who are going on vacation and don’t want to worry about their plants getting dehydrated.
That’s a sign that your water is taking its time getting into the medium, allowing the plant to thrive.
Watering Bird of Paradises After Repotting
For a Bird of Paradise, the repotting process can be pretty stressful. Even the tiniest of touches can cause damage to the root system, and that’s doubly true if you’re treating root rot or propagating your Bird by division.
You should first give your Bird of Paradise plenty of water after moving it to a new pot, and then wait until the medium is dehydrated before giving it another drink.
An excellent chance to rehydrate the newly potted Bird after the ordeal of repotting while also preventing infection in vulnerable, damaged roots.