For those who love colorful plants, nothing is as delightful as Bird of Paradise. This plant is native to the coastal areas of South Africa. It has lovely flowers in which orange and blue petals fuse together.
The blooms add character to the graceful green leaves of Birds of Paradise.
Over time, however, if proper care is not given, these beautiful leaves may display brown edges.
But why so…
And what can you do about it?
Don’t worry, Plantophiles got you covered!
What Are the Reasons for Brown Edges on Birds of Paradise Plants?
The reason behind the brown edges on Bird of Paradise is most often related to water. Underwatering dehydrates your plant. And if you use water that doesn’t suit your plant (water with too much salt or chlorine, for example), it can grow unhappy and develop brown edges on the leaves. Other reasons for browning leaves include low humidity and an incompatible temperature. You can treat your plant by keeping its soil moist and misting its leaves, and you should also keep it away from drafty or dry areas.
What Does it Take to Keep Your Bird of Paradise Healthy?
Brown leaves indicate your plant is not doing so well. So, what does it take to keep it healthy?
Bird of Paradise naturally thrives in rain forests. So, its ideal environment includes ample rain and sunlight. It is sensitive to water quality, and your climate can also affect it a lot.
However, its beautiful appearance often overshadows its picky nature. People love to grow it in all atmospheres, but Bird of Paradise is not very resilient. To keep it healthy, you need to provide it bright sunlight (direct or indirect) and high humidity.
Bird of Paradise also wants you to water it every 1-2 weeks. It likes its feet in moist soil, but soggy soil frustrates your plant. It means that you have to ensure that two inches of soil dry out between watering periods.
If you want to care for Bird of Paradise in a cold area, you can grow it indoors. To make up for this deficiency of sunlight, try using artificial lights for the plant.
These are the general requirements for Bird of Paradise that you should know as a plant parent. Not following these can also give your precious plant brown leaves.
Now, let’s discuss in detail why your leaves are turning brown.
Three Likely Reasons Behind Browning of Bird of Paradise Leaves
When your Bird of Paradise leaves are browning, you will be able to see that their edges feel crispy. They also curl inwards. My average Bird of Paradise leaf tends to have more splits when browning. These splits start from the edges and horizontally extend towards midribs.
So, I’ve compiled three reasons to help you diagnose your Bird of Paradise.
Inadequate amount of water
Bird of Paradise does not require you to water it every day. In fact, it will be distressed if you overwater it.
Plant lovers’ community agrees that watering Bird of Paradise once every week is a good practice. However, unless you live in a moderate climate, you may have to improvise.
If you skip or miss the watering days of your plant, it will undergo many changes.
Bird of paradise leaves have chloroplasts that contain further compartments. Thylakoid membranes exist to guard these structures.
When your plant doesn’t have enough water, a series of metabolic events start in these thylakoid membranes. You can think of it as your plant’s defense mechanism.
It often results in the leaves desiccating and curling. Bird of Paradise is among the quickest-growing plants, but lack of water can stunt its growth. It then performs less photosynthesis, and its leaves’ edges also turn brown and crispy.
The same effects of dehydration can happen if the air surrounding your plant is too dry. It is common in winter as the humidity level is low.
Your Bird of Paradise likely has brown edges because you didn’t recognize its sensitivity to water quality. Most houseplants don’t complain about the quality of water as long as you maintain the quantity. But it is not the case for Bird of Paradise.
Using tap water is not a wise approach for this plant. Tap water has high salt content that tends to “burn” your plant’s leaves. The salt in the tap water dissolves and then separates into sodium and chlorine ions.
Your plant’s roots readily absorb the chlorine ions. Xylem vessels then transport them to the leaves, where they create toxic reactions. It results in your leaves looking scorched or brown towards their margins.
As a tropical species, your Bird of Paradise is not very tolerant to cold. If the temperature drops below 20 degrees Fahrenheit (-6 Celsius) where you live, your plant will begin to show symptoms of harm.
Bird of Paradise has thin, broad leaves. So, perhaps the leaf edges are browning because your plant is dealing with freeze damage.
If you don’t change the conditions, the leaves will darken until they are black. My experience says that they will eventually fall off, as too much cold is fatal for them.
Nevertheless, there are ways to save your Bird of Paradise from its early death.
How to Treat a Bird of Paradise With Brown Edges?
Brown edges on Bird of Paradise leaves are alarming. It would help if you took quick action to treat them.
Here are some tips to help you along the way.
Save Your Plant From the Cold
It is possible to control the freeze damage if it has only begun. To help your Bird of Paradise, you should select a site where the air is not too cold. I promptly take my plant indoors when winter arrives.
If you can’t take your green friend indoor, find a sunny and sheltered location for it. It would be best if you can create a protective structure around it. A wooden fence, for instance, can brace your plant against cold. It will also retain heat and give your plant a chance to recover.
Adjust for the Water Problems
Perhaps your plant grew brown leaves because it didn’t receive enough water. If so, you can rehydrate it by making sure it absorbs the water you give.
I’d suggest examining the soil surface first. If it feels dry, you should poke some holes in it before watering. It will encourage the plant’s roots to intake more water.
But if your Bird of Paradise is in a pot instead of ground, you should gently remove it. Make sure you don’t damage the dehydrated roots in the process.
Next, you should prepare a water tray with filtered water. Place your Bird of Paradise in it, and let it drink water for half an hour.
It would be best if you repot it in a spacious pot once the time has passed. For the future, remember to water your plant weekly. You should avoid tap water because your leaves could also be turning brown due to the salt content.
I’ve been watering my Bird of Paradise with distilled water, and it stays content. Distilled water is also economical, and you can easily find it in stores.
You should also mist the leaves regularly or use the help of a humidifier to raise the air humidity around your Bird of Paradise plant.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I cut the brown leaves if there are too many of them on my plant?
Pruning your Bird of Paradise can be a helpful solution. However, remember to wait for spring if you want to cut the leaves. Otherwise, your plant may stop growing leaves altogether.
Will the brown leaves uncurl when I repot my Bird of Paradise?
When you repot your plant, you can help its leaves uncurl and regain their green shade. For this, you will have to use a big pot and provide your plant enough water and sunlight in the future.
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.