Problems With a Bird-of-Paradise Plant

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Problems With a Bird-of-Paradise Plant
The bird-of-paradise resembles a colourful bird's head. (Bird of paradise image by Jan Ebling from

Bird-of-paradise plants thrive in the warm climates of Florida, California and Hawaii and do well indoors in cooler climates. In Hawaii, the bold yellow, blue and red flowers are a frequent design on aloha shirts. In their native South Africa, these plants are commonly called "crane" flowers because of their birdlike appearance. Certain growing problems may be experienced with both indoor and outdoor plants.

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Cold Temperatures

The bird-of-paradise does well in warm temperatures but cannot tolerate frost or icy conditions. Frost will actually kill the parts of the plant that are above ground. If the ground itself does not freeze, the root system should remain viable, and the plant will recover in the spring. If your bird-of-paradise experiences frost damage, trim all the dead and damaged parts.

No Flowers

Bird-of-paradise plants do not flower frequently. If a plant is started from seed, it may be four or five years before you see your first bloom. A plant started from a cutting may take two to three years. The younger plants tend to use all their resources to increase their foliage and root growth. They also put out an extensive network of rhizomes, or underground stems. The bird-of-paradise plant is also easily disturbed by repotting, and flowering may not occur for a year or two after you have replanted your specimen. The bird-of-paradise needs full sun, or the artificial equivalent if grown indoors, in order to produce flowers.

Leaves Turning Yellow

Your bird-of-paradise plant needs moist, well-draining, loamy soils similar to those found in a rainforest setting. The large leaves, which can grow up to 18 inches long and 6 inches wide, sometimes turn yellow if the plant is over- or under-watered. If this happens, trim the leaves because they will die off, sapping energy from the plant in the process. In warm weather, water your bird-of-paradise daily if needed. Touch the soil's surface. If it is dry, it is time to water. For potted plants, place a shallow dish or saucer under them so the excess water can drain off.

Growing Suckers

"Prolific" is one word to describe bird-of-paradise plants that are growing in optimal conditions. Mature plants will already have an extensive root system and rhizome network. Each rhizome is a potential plant, and if your plant decides to sprout underneath a sidewalk, the sucker plant can crack it. It is a good idea to plant bird-of-paradise beds at least 6 feet from your home or any other structure you do not want damaged. Potted plants will also let you know when it is time to repot. Bird-of-paradise plants have been known to crack their containers if they become root-bound.

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