An overwatered bird of paradise becomes limp or droopy, will wilt, and will develop yellow leaves and brown leaf edges that have yellow lines.

Overwatered Bird of Paradise

You can also know if the plants are being overwatered by checking the potting soil, if it has white mold on its surface and stays soggy for a long time, you are probably overwatering the plant.

The soil may also produce a musty or swampy smell, which is a result of prolonged sogginess. Having noticed any of the overwatering signs, follow this recovery care guide to save your bird of paradise plant.

How Does the Bird of Paradise Get Overwatered?

The bird of paradise plant gets overwatered by excessive watering, poor soil drainage, slow draining pots, variations in environmental conditions, using water to eliminate pests, and pebble tray system misuse. All of the aforementioned factors cause excess water to stay in the soil for a prolonged period of time.

Continuously soggy soils provide perfect breeding and thriving conditions for fungi that feed on the plant’s roots.

Bear in mind that it does not necessarily take all of these factors combined for overwatering to take place. A single factor that is not well-managed can cause serious overwatering issues despite most of them being under control.

– Excessive Watering

Considering that the bird of paradise or Strelitzia plant takes in a lot of water for its upkeep, this does not necessarily mean that you should keep it sitting in wet soil. Indeed, this plant does not need exposure to long spells but if it remains in too wet conditions, root rot manifests.

Even if the growing medium and the pot are both well-draining, too frequent or excessive application of water keeps the soil overly moist. Surprisingly, you may notice the leaves beginning to wilt and split severely despite the soil having enough moisture to keep them lively.

Make sure that the soil has lost enough water before irrigating it again. Ensure that the top two to three inches of the growing medium are dry, leaving the rest slightly moist before irrigating again.

You should gently pour eight cups of water every seven to nine days when the plant is grown in partly shaded places. This watering intensity works well when the plant is sitting in a five-inch pot.

This watering schedule gives the plant ample time to effectively use up available moisture for its upkeep, curbing overwatering at the same time. Given that all other overwatering factors are well-managed, watering the bird of paradise accordingly will help it thrive and live longer.

– Poor Soil Drainage

Heavy soils are generally poor when it comes to water drainage. After watering, the soil cannot let go of excess water easily and it remains soggy for extended periods of time. Even if you do not water your bird of paradise too frequently, the little water that you apply to the soil remains captured within it.

Considering that the bird of paradise is a thirsty plant, it absorbs the water into its system until it cannot take more.

This simply implies that it will be left stranded in a water-logged situation which poses risk to the rot susceptible roots. Take note that soil that drains poorly usually has a huge composition of clay.

Clay soil has tiny fine particles that have very limited spaces between them. When it is dry, the roots can access a limited oxygen supply, but when irrigated, the available airways get filled with water.

In this case, the roots go for long periods without accessing oxygen and they ultimately give in and die. Using a growing medium made up of half part potting soil and half part coco fiber or peat moss should solve this problem.

– Slow-Draining Pots

Containers that have little or poor drainage facilities hold water for extended periods after irrigation. Even if you have perfect potting soil that drains well, the water still cannot drain out due to poor escape facilities.

As a result, the roots of the bird of paradise plant get exposed to rot-supporting conditions. When the soil is not allowed to lose excess water, mold starts to grow on its surface.

Slow-draining containers are equally bad for the bird of paradise’s upkeep as much as poorly drained soils are. The stagnation of water that results from bad pot drainage blocks all possible oxygen flow ways, which put the roots at risk of rot.

For smooth movement of water, both the soil and the pot should be well-draining. Stunted growth, yellowing leaves, and sickly-looking foliage are the characteristics of a bird of paradise plant that is grown in soggy conditions.

On an important note, If your plant is potted in glazed ceramic or plastic containers, water retention is high. This keeps the soil wet for a long time, exposing the Bird of paradise to the risk of rot. We recommend you consider acquiring terracotta pots as their walls allow excess moisture out of the system.

dealing with an Overwatered Bird of Paradise

– Variations in Environmental Conditions

Being a fast grower, the bird of paradise uses a lot of moisture to support its massive development. During spring and summer, it needs frequent watering as this period is its active growing period.

At the same time, the high rate of evaporation helps the soil to lose moisture quickly. Transpiration is also at its peak as the leaf pores, known as the stomata, open wide in hot conditions.

However, environmental variation-facilitated overwatering is common during the low-growth and cooler seasons. For instance, in winter, this plant stunts its development due to unfavorable growing conditions and a constant water supply becomes unnecessary.

If you do not consider the environmental changes and keep watering the soil consistently, overwatering results. Consider cutting back the watering frequency to a two or three-weak basis but make sure the topsoil is dry first.

In winter, the bird of paradise’s leaf pores close as the atmosphere cannot take much moisture from plants. This in turn causes the uptake of the water by the plant to drop drastically.

In this scenario, the roots will be trapped in water-logged situations, which is the genesis of most overwatering symptoms. The plant will start experiencing curling leaves, brown leaf tips, and drooping.

– Washing off Pests With Water

Pests like mealybugs, spider mites, and scale are the most common pests that are a menace to the bird of paradise.

However, one of the most cost-effective control measures is the hosing method, where pressurized water is used to wash them off. Despite being effective in reducing the population of pests, beware of unnecessary saturation of water in the growing medium.

If the water is allowed to access the soil, it is as if you are watering the plant. Given that the soil has not dried enough for the next irrigation session, the roots will definitely sit in soggy conditions for quite a long time.

You should therefore cover the soil so that when you hose the plant, the water will not settle in the growing medium. Hosing the plant when the soil is ready for irrigation is a good alternative, but if you let the pests invade the soil, future recurrences become imminent.

Alternatively, you should just wipe off pests using a damp soft cloth dipped in warm water. You can also use Neem oil product to treat the pests. Avoid using any form of spray pesticides or alcohol as they are harmful to the Bird paradise’s leaves.

– Pebble Tray Misuse

Being humidity lovers, when the bird of paradise flower is grown in drier air, the moisture content in the environment should be increased through the use of pebble trays, humidifiers, and misting. However, if you choose to use the pebble tray method and the roots of the plant access the water, overwatering results.

Considering that this plant is a fast grower, it is very possible to have the roots protruding from the pot into the water tray. Despite the soil and pot draining perfectly, if the roots are somehow dipped in stagnant water, the plant’s leaves start turning yellow in a short time.

To prevent this situation, you should ensure that the pot is well-elevated to give no room for the roots to touch the water. If you are planning to travel out of town for a long time, you should alternatively prefer using a humidifier as it is less risky.


How Do I Save an Overwatered Bird of Paradise?

To save an overwatered bird of paradise plant, you should cut the frequency of irrigation, check the soil and pot qualities, uproot the overwatered plant, prune the affected roots and leaves, treat the plant and repot it in ideal growing conditions.

Overwatered bird of paradise plants’ immunity against pests and diseases declines with overwatering, making these beauties an easy target.

Special care should be given to it to help it bounce back without endangering its vulnerable foliage. You should know that not all bird of paradise overwatering cases can be saved. Severe root rot is the hard pill you would not want to swallow as revival becomes quite impossible.

– Problem Evaluation

The first step is to know the extent of overwatering damage suffered for proper steps to be taken. Also, check the potting mix and container for drainage assessment. You should try to establish the cause of overwatering so that it can be fixed and avoid recurrences.

Save My Overwatered Bird of Paradise

Just by amending the root of overwatering, if the plant is mildly affected, it should recover quickly. As for severe scenarios, further inspection and action are needed to get the plant back to its healthy state.

Before going any further, consider isolating the overwatering affected plant and dealing with it separately. This should stop pests and fungal diseases from spreading to nearby plants.

– Cut the Irrigation Frequency

Reducing the irrigation frequency yields good results if the overwatering symptoms are mild. Technically, mild overwatering effects mean that the root system is still fine.

Shaking up the watering requirements and the drainage abilities of the soil and pot should do the trick. Considering that too much water is the cause of concern here, start by letting the soil dry out before irrigating again.

As the soil dries, airflow around the root system improves. This also improves the health of the bird of paradise’s roots, which positively changes their efficiency.

Increased water and nutrient absorption by the roots offers much-needed support to the foliage for quick recovery. You can use the aid of a moisture meter for more accurate soil wetness readings.

– Check the Soil and Container’s Drainage Qualities

Inspect the soil and see if it is the main culprit. Mild overwatering cases also result from slow drainage of excess water.

Also, inspect the bottom of the pot and see if it has enough holes to support drainage. Based on the overwatering evaluation, you can consider using perforated terracotta pots as they are able to lose excess moisture through their porous walls.

If you do not wish to repot the plant into terracotta containers, you can amend the current pot’s drainage holes. If the holes are few, consider drilling more to suit the desired rate of drainage for your plant.

In some cases, the holes at the base of the pot get blocked by dirt, which leaves only a few working well. In such cases, you should use a pathogen-free tool to pluck the dirt off and restore the plant’s efficiency.

If too much water has caused the soil to get compacted, we advise you to loosen it using a clean gardening fork.

The increased availability of air spaces in the soil should improve water drainage as well as airflow. From now on, you should water bird of paradise plants each time the finger test proves that the top two to three inches of soil are completely dry.

– Unpot the Overwatered Bird of Paradise

If your bird of paradise is wilting and its leaves have browning edges, this is not a good sign. You should immediately look out for root damage as well as rot disease.

You should take care not to mix up the roots of the plant when removing it from its container. If the soil is compacted to the extent of making it difficult to separate the plant from the pot, start by loosening it a bit using any suitable tool available.

Once the overwatered plant is out of the pot, gently wash the roots, making sure that you remove contaminated soil entirely.

Cleaning the roots also reveals the bad ones, making it easier for you to deal with them accordingly. Now place the plant on top of old magazine sheets to dry out. Position the overwatered plant on a spot that has good air circulation for them to dry up overnight.

– Prune the Affected Roots and Leaves

Inspect the roots, and if they are brown or dark, soggy, and feel soft on the touch, they are probably rotten. Get a disinfected pair of scissors and trim them off. Removing unwanted roots gives room for new root development, which quickens the revival process.

The roots are the strength of a plant, so if most of them are not affected by rot, the bird of paradise can bounce back fast. If only a few roots are remaining healthy, it takes quite a long time for the plant to recover fully.

Healthy bird of paradise roots should be white and can have a yellowish tinge on them. You should also take this opportunity to remove all discolored, damaged, and diseased leaves from the plant.

Having reduced the size of the root system, it is equally important to reduce the size of the foliage. This way, the massive foliage will not strain the reduced root mass, thereby supporting the recovery of the entire plant.

Leave only the young and vibrant-looking leaves that are at the top of the plant. Keep it in mind that this is also the right time to eliminate all infections that may have taken refuge within the bird of paradise plants’ foliage.

– Treat the Bird of Paradise Leaves and Roots

Before repotting the weakened plant, you should treat the roots with a fungicidal solution. We recommend copper and sulfur-based fungicides in treating rot-affected roots as well as prevention of recurrence.

Also, you can include activated charcoal, cinnamon, and hydrogen peroxide in the potting soil to curb rot in the future. Adding one or two of the aforementioned ingredients to the soil should be enough to prevent rot-causing pathogens from manifesting.

– Repot the Plant

Replanting is a vital step in overwatered plant care. However, you should not even attempt to use the previously contaminated potting soil to curb recurrences.

Get a well-draining potting soil that is rich in organic matter, sand, and perlite. Consider using a brand new terracotta container to eliminate root rot recurrence chances.

Fill the pot up to the three-quarter level with well-drained potting soil. Now, create an opening that is large enough to accommodate the roots of the bird of paradise plant. Insert the plant and make sure that it stands firm and upright. Add more of the potting soil to the container and leave a space for watering.

– Position the Plant in Ideal Growing Conditions

In general, the Bird of paradise enjoys temperatures that range from 65 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit ( 28 to 21 degrees Celsius).

The place should have access to bright, indirect sunlight. Direct sunlight can easily scotch the weak plant’s leaves, thereby drawing back the recovery mission. Only water the plant if the top two to three inches are dried out.

Taking into account that the trimmed plant does not need much water for its upkeep, you should limit irrigation.

Save Overwatered Bird of Paradise

With proper care, you should have your bird of paradise back to its beautiful state much more quickly. Being a very good alternative to the gorgeous and decorative fiddle leaf fig, it is very easy to notice whether the plant is performing well or not.


The Bird of paradise plant has the same decorative qualities as the much-adored fiddle leaf fig, which makes it more disheartening to watch it collapse.

Here are some vital points from this overwatered Bird of paradise care guide.

  • The main characteristics of an overwatered Bird of paradise plant are wilting leaves, yellowing leaves, leaf drooping, curling, and root rot.
  • The most feared and ruthless effect of watering is root rot. In severe root rot cases, extensive care needs to be done.
  •  Before taking any action on an overwatered Bird of paradise, start by evaluating the situation to apply the right corrective measures.
  • Do not reuse contaminated potting soil to avoid recurrences that may finish off the already struggling plant.

Seeing your beloved Bird of paradise plant dying surely is painful, but with this informative guide, you should not even think of replacing it with alternative plants like the fiddle leaf fig. Follow this guide and enjoy the process!


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