How to Fix Overwatered Bird of Paradise

For keeping your bird of heaven (Strelitzia Spp.) looking beautiful and healthy take care to feed and water regularly as you would with other plants in your home.

But, providing it with excessive amounts of water can cause damage more than it does good. What happens if you’ve got an overwatered bird of heaven in your possession?

If you are experiencing a mild case you can stop the watering of the bird that is your paradise, and let your soil time to dry out. An overwatered plant may require the removal of the roots that are diseased and fungicide treatment, as well as repotting. If you are unable for your plants to be saved, you can resort to propagation.

The best way to revive your bird of paradise is determined by the severity of the issue. The sooner you recognize the issue, the greater chance the plant will rebound.

This is why I’ve listed the most common signs of overwatering that you need to be looking for on your beloved bird. In addition, you’ll also be taught how to properly to water your bird of paradise.

Underwatered vs Overwatered Bird of Paradise?

The bird of paradise plant that is attracted by soil that is a bit moist, but not too dry or too wet. It is adamant if soil moisture reaches the extreme.

And, even more importantly, if you drown a bird that is overwatered in paradise believing it’s thirsty, it’s forcing your plants towards the edge to death.

It’s not helping to find a connection between the signs and symptoms of underwatering and overwatering. To aid you I’ve listed the obvious signs that you’ve either overwatered , or submerged your bird of paradise.

In a nutshell Dry potting mix; curly, dry, and dying leaves with browned edges that are brittle suggest the bird is thirsty.

When the mix is damp and the lower leaves have turned yellow with a smell of water emanating from the soil, it’s likely that you’ve overwatered your Strelitzia plant.

How to Know If You Have Overwatered Your Bird of Paradise?

The best place to start to address the issue is to be able to determine whether your beloved bird is overwatered in the first place. Be aware that an underwater Strelitzia will be more likely recover to normal than one that has been overwatered.

12] Yellowing Leaves

The yellow foliage on the bird that is your paradise are usually an indication that something is not right due to the changing conditions. One of the reasons is that your plant is receiving excessive water.

Because overwatering deprives the roots of oxygen, they are unable to perform as they should. This means that your plant will not receive enough nutrients from your soil mixture. As a result, the leaves will begin to lose its attractive shiny green appearance in favor of a yellowing appearance.

The first leaves to succumb to yellowing is older and lower leaves. It is usually accompanied by the appearance of drooping leaves and excessive splitting. As time passes the yellowing process will move upwards, and affect the entire leaf. At some point, the leaves could become black and end up dying.

I’d like to make one point clear, however. Although water issues (AKA overwatering) is the main cause of yellowed leaves on a strelitzia tree but it’s not the sole reason. The leaves can be yellowed due to a severe light shortage and diseases.

The yellowing of leaves can also be because of insects like scales, crown borers whiteflies, and aphids. Therefore, it is crucial to determine the exact root cause by observing other indicators such as wet soil or root decay.

bird of paradise two flowers pink background

[2] The Potting Mix is Wet or Soggy

The most obvious indication of excessive watering is the persistent excess water in the potting mix. If you overdo it using the watering container the soil will become wet, then sloppy and then eventually turn waterlogged. This is a situation you do not want to put your bird of paradise in.

Birds of paradise likes when the soil is evenly damp. But, it isn’t happy sitting upon “wet feet.” Excess water can push air from the earth, making it difficult for the root to breath. They’ll eventually suffocate and cease to exist, and consequently are unable to absorb nutrients efficiently.

The more serious issue is that the soil with water is a breeding ground for pathogens. In the near future, root rot disease will form a tent within the roots, further aggravating the problem.

The soil will usually be damp after you water your plant. Fortunately, the soil that is 2-3 inches beneath the surface will dry out in the next couple of weeks. If it’s wet (or more importantly and more wet) within a week or two after the irrigation, then you’ve been a bit overwatered in paradise in your hands.

[3] Presence of Root Rot

Root rot is more fatal to Bird of paradise more than any other ailment. Actually root rot and an overwatered plant usually are inextricably linked.

The reason for this is that the majority of bacteria (like Pythium, Armillaria and others.) which cause root rot in birds of paradise thrive in moist conditions.

If your strelitzia is on “wet feet” for too long, the root rot may progress to healthier roots. Although the majority of symptoms are beneath the soil’s surface, it is possible to determine if your houseplant is suffering from root rot by not removing it.

The stem is sagging, leaves are falling and growth that is abnormally slow or stunted and rapid color change of leaves are obvious signs of root decay in a bird of paradise. A stale, rotten-egg smell will begin to hit your nose as you move towards your plants.

If you take the bird out of its pot of heaven and you’ll find yourself surrounded by a shabby-looking root ball. The roots may appear mushy, brown or the roots will be blackened. Make sure you act quickly for your plants to be saved -it is time of the essence!

[4] Increased Leaf Splitting

Normally split leaves on the bird of paradise shouldn’t be something that you need to be concerned about. It’s an adaptation natural to the plants adapted to their chilly winter climates within South Africa.

The splits allow enough space for wind-driven streams to flow through, and also prevent the plant from being damaged or ripped completely by strong gusts and storms.

Splitting is usually observed in older leaves which will eventually fall. If you observe an excessive and unintentional splits of leaves across the board it is likely that you’ve overwatered your bird of the paradise. This is more evident in the yellow or drooping leaves.

[5] Browning Leaf Tips and Edges

As I’ve mentioned earlier the browning edges and tips of leaves could be an indication of an underwatered or overwatered birds of paradise. The result of underwatering is usually browning edges or tipped leaves that appear dry, crisp and brittle upon contact.

A bird that is overwater On the other hand is characterized by browning edges on the leaf edges, followed by lines of yellow or a yellow. Both the browning and yellowing move rapidly upwards, following the veins.

[6] Leaf Wilting and Drooping

Wilting is usually a sign that the bird that is your paradise has been overwatered for a long time that the rot-related disease has made it’s way to the root. If the root system is not functioning properly the leaves is likely to lose turgor pressure and then wilt.

As time passes the leaves can become limp and fall under the weight of their own weight because of the loss of turgor pressure. The cause of wilting is typically inadequate light exposure as well as the appearance of pests or diseases. The majority of leaves begin by becoming yellow, but then they begin to begin to wilt, and then become loose.

[7] Moldy Cover on the Soil Surface

Grey or white dusty moldwill begin to grow over the surface of your potting mix when the soil remains wet over a long period of time. Although this can be not a problem, it could indicate that there’s a more serious issue lurking beneath the surface of the soil. Fungal and mildew growths could be the same.

The moldy growths thrive well in dark, smoky and damp environments. Therefore, you should consider shifting your plant to a more bright, well-aerated area.

How Do I Save My Overwatered Bird of Paradise?

Some overwatered birds of paradise plants are able to be saved. There’s a good chance that the plant won’t survive when root rot has started to take hold for a time. This is the tough pill that you may not want to swallow.

However the best option for getting your bird back is to think about the seriousness of the water overflowing issue.

If your plant is slightly overwatered, the odds are on your side. If you notice that the root is rotting the plant could be rehabilitated. But, every circumstance requires a unique method.

Option A: How to Save Mildly Overwatered Birds of Paradise

Technically speaking, the roots of your water-logged birds of paradise still good. They haven’t been completely drowned by the excess water or afflicted by root decay. The only step you have to do is stop watering your plant and allow the soil to dry up.

  • The first thing to do is ensure that the soil mix is able to provide drainage. Are there drainage holes in the base of your container? If not, the best option is to use the new terracotta container with perforations or create more holes in the container you have currently.
  • Examine if the soil is no longer able for holding air. If excessive watering has caused damage to the soil’s structure, the water will flow through the soil mix. If this happens, your only option is to replace the potting mix using a fresh, well-drained pot mix.
  • Transfer your bird of paradise to a sunny area to speed up the process of drying soil. However, it is best to avoid the direct light of the sun. Aeration is increasing and spacing your plants can result in the same beneficial effect.
  • If the soil is extremely wet, remove the plant from its pot. Place the root ball gently on a bed comprised of a few old magazines. Be sure that the area is warm, airy, as well as bright to accelerate drying the soil. Repot right away after the root ball is dried up.

Make sure that two to 3 inches beneath the surface is dry prior to watering again. Then, continue to keep a routine of watering according to the test of your fingers.

Option B: How to Save a Seriously Overwatered Bird of Paradise

If your pet’s paradise bird has dying leaves and edges that are browning chances are not favorable for you. Examine the roots for signs of rot and damage. If the roots appear brown or soggy This is a red flag that the root is rotting!

The earlier you act sooner, the better chance you’ll save your beloved bird from the clutches of death. Here’s my step-by-step revitalisation mission:

Step 1: Remove the pot and inspect the entire plant

After you have removed the birds of paradise out its pot, begin with a gentle root wash. This will expose all affected roots and help get rid of the soil that is contaminated.

Step #2: Remove and Discard Affected Parts

Start by cutting off any rotten, infected, or decaying roots. They’re typically black or brown, and soft to the feel. The rest of the roots should be healthy and white, with or with no yellowish tint.

Be sure to clean the cutting blade with an alcohol solution. Remove any damaged stems, leaves, or shoots. Trim at the bottom of the plant.

Step #3: Prune Your Plant

The most important thing to avoid to happen is for old dying roots to take over the bird of paradise that is struggling to survive. The rule of thumb is to trim the leaves to equal the amount of roots that have been lost. It is best to leave only the healthy, younger leaves in the middle.

Step #4: Treat Your Plant

It is recommended to make a fungicide solution in order to treat the healthy roots prior to repotting. Based on my experiences I’ve discovered sulfur and copper-based fungicides to help in preventing repeated occurrence in root rot.

I’ve also begun to appreciate the importance of cinnamon, activated charcoal, as well as hydrogen peroxide in the treatment of root decay. Mix a couple components into your pot soil.

Step #5: Repot Your Bird of Paradise Using Fresh Potting Mix

I can’t stress this enough: make a fresh batch of potting mix that is moist. Choose a well-drained, rich potting mix and mix in natural matter and perlite, and sand. To get rid of root rot make sure you use a brand new terracotta container with the proper drainage.

Step #6: Provide Optimum Growing Conditions

The bird of paradise you have enjoy aeration that is good, optimal temperatures of 65-70degF (18-21degC), and the bright indirect light. Do not wait until the top 3″ of the soil are dry. (Source: Clemson University)

Option C: Propagation

If the root rot has caused enough damage, it could be so severe that it is it is impossible to rescue your beloved bird. In this situation the only option is to grow the plant.

  1. Propagation via rhizomes or divisions is the most efficient method. Find divisions of rooted rhizomes using offsets.
  2. Each division must be placed in a small pot. Make sure to water each time and put the container in an area that is warm and bright for about 8 weeks.
  3. After 8 weeks new growth and roots will begin to emerge. Then, you can repot it in a bigger container that is two inches bigger.

Make sure that your plant receives plenty of bright , filtered and indirect sunlight.

How to Water Bird of Paradise

[1] Watering During Active Growing Season

The birds of paradise can be avid drinkers, particularly during the growing season that runs from spring until the close of summer. Additionally, water evaporates faster through the soil, and also via respiration in this warmer time.

In the end, the mixture of potting mixes dries faster and you need to increase the frequency of irrigation as required. In the majority of places it is necessary to keep your bird in a state of water at least every two weeks. However, you shouldn’t adhere to a strict daily-counting schedule.

Instead, you can use your fingers or a probe for moisture to determine whether your soil has dried enough to allow water again. A reliable 3-in-1 moisture gauge is a great tool to check the soil’s PH, light as well as moisture. They can also aid in the aeration process of soil that is wet.

Examine the soil’s moisture every 4 or 5 days. If the soil that is 2-3 inches below the surface appears to be dry, then you can water the can. If not, check the soil moisture a couple of days afterward.

[2] Watering During the Dormant Period

Strelitzia certainly loves soil that is moist however, it shouldn’t be too wet or sloppy. This could be a problem when your bird of paradise falls into a state of near-dormancy.

This is usually during autumn and winter. It is recommended to reduce the amount of water you use every two to three weeks . and you should allow at least 2 inches of soil dry out between waterings.

Factors Influence Watering Frequency of a Bird of Paradise

The needs for watering the bird that is your paradise be contingent on more than just the way it grows. There are many other variables that determine how quickly the soil will dry out.

  • Type of Container – Terracotta containers are porous, allowing the soil to dry out quickly. However, ceramics that are glazed and plastic pots hold water for a longer period of time.
  • Humidity – Birds of Paradise are plants that love humidity. If the air isn’t as humid the soil and plant will lose more moisture than if the region is humid.
  • Temperature – Higher temperatures because of sunshine or heat sources nearby can accelerate the drying of soil. The plant will consequently require more watering often.
  • The size of the Plant The larger birds of paradise need to be watered more frequently than smaller birds.


Went from a bad gardener to a half-decent one over 10+ years. Super happy to share my tips and tricks with you :)