do birds of paradise like sun or shade

PRO TIP: Trim away older leaves on the Bird of Paradise, as they droop over time and develop more splits. New leaves always emerge from the center and keep the plant full and balanced.

The Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia nicolai) boasts a stunning display of large tropical leaves that in the wilds of southern Africa can reach up to 20 tall! In human spaces, theyre more likely to stand anywhere from 3’- 8’ tall, but still rank among most houseplant fans favorites due to the remarkable size of their rich foliage.

Choose a location for your Bird of Paradise away from air vents and drafts where the plant will get at least four hours of southern, western, or eastern exposure. Though they can tolerate medium light conditions, the Bird of Paradise will not thrive long-term without adequate sunlight, so we always recommend placing them in bright light.

If you are unsure about lighting conditions in your home or office, we have a guide for how to measure light in your space.

Bird of Paradise plants are often confused with banana plants, but while bananas have a spiral leaf growth pattern, Bird of Paradise plants have an alternate leaf growth pattern.

PRO TIP: In the winter months when less sunlight is available due to the elliptical orbit of the sun, Birds of Paradise go through a “resting” period and require less water. October – February you can dial back the amount of water given provided you don’t have the plant near a dry heat source. In general it is better to adjust the amount of water given rather than the frequency of watering.

Always be sure to assess your plant’s watering needs upon receiving it. Before giving your plant a drink, it is best to check the moisture level in the soil first to ensure it isn’t moist right beneath the surface. A soil probe is a very handy tool for both checking the soil moisture deep within a planter and can also be used to aerate overly wet soil.

Birds of Paradise enjoy moist (but not soggy) soil, and being allowed to dry out slightly between waterings. Try not to let the soil dry completely through the pot, but also avoid overwatering. Allow the top 2″ – 3″ of the soil to become dry between waterings, but below that should remain moist. These plants do particularly well in our self watering containers.

The splits in the leaves of the Bird of Paradise are natural, and allow light to access the lower portion of the plant. Keep your plant away from drafts, and apply extra humidity with a humidifier, pebble tray, or mister to keep the splitting to a minimum.

Rotate your plant periodically to ensure even growth on all sides and dont be afraid to prune discolored or broken leaves. It is important to dust the leaves of Bird of Paradise plants often so the plant can photosynthesize efficiently. To dust, use a mister and microfiber cloth to throughly wipe down each leaf and take the opportunity to inspect the undersides of the foliage to keep an eye out for pests.

Note if you are using a container made from organic materials to pot your Bird of Paradise in, we highly recommend using a waterproof saucer underneath to protect your floors, as humidity may accumulate beneath the pot and can damage wood floors and carpeting.

Remember each plant is a unique living thing and may have varying needs, especially in their individual locations. Pay attention to the condition of your Bird of Paradise and its watering needs and you will have a long and happy relationship.

Common Problems with Growing Birds of Paradise

Although the Bird of Paradise is a pest-free, easy-going plant, spider mite infestations can occur. Use weekly sprays of a natural pesticide, such as neem oil, and routine plant cleanings to eradicate pests as soon as they emerge.

SYMPTOM: Splits along leaf margins; CAUSE: Adaptive measure taken normally to help the plant withstand strong winds in its natural environment

SYMPTOM: Yellowing lower leaves, wet potting mix CAUSE: Overwatered

SYMPTOM: Withering leaves, curling them, and dry potting mix; CAUSE: Plant that is thirsty or submerged

Bird Of Paradise Plant Care 101

Thrives in bright indirect light to full sun when acclimated. Not suited for low light conditions.

Water every one to two weeks, letting the soil dry out in between applications. Anticipate watering more frequently in higher light and less frequently in lower light. Expert advice: Water left out overnight or filtered is beneficial for birds of paradise.

While normal room humidity will do, if at all possible, the Birds of Paradise prefer humid environments. A fine-mist mister or humidifier could be added to increase the humidity level indoors.

Most houseplants prefer temps in the 65°F-85°F range (18°C-30°C). It’s best not to let it go below 60°F (15°C).

Use a well-draining potting mix. When necessary, incorporate materials like lava rocks or perlite to improve soil aeration.

The soil should be damp but not soggy for birds of paradise, and they should be allowed to dry out a little in between waterings. Try not to overwater the pot or allow the soil to dry out entirely. Between waterings, let the top 2 to 3 inches of soil dry; the soil below should stay moist. These plants do particularly well in our self watering containers.

The thick, tuberous roots of the Bird of Paradise plant can swiftly fill in any empty space in a pot. Purchasing a container with an interior diameter greater than the grow pot’s size is crucial because plants grown in nursery pots typically occupy the entire pot. The Bird of Paradise appears best, in our opinion, in lower planters that highlight its foliage or in taller, tapering planters that highlight its height. Nearly all of our sizable planters come with detachable drain plugs, and matching plant saucers are optional.

Your Bird of Paradise should be placed where it will receive at least four hours of exposure to the south, west, or east, away from air vents and drafts. The Bird of Paradise can withstand medium light levels, but they need enough sunlight to survive over the long term, so we always advise keeping them in bright light.

RESERVOIR SERVICING: Do not immediately refill the reservoir after it naturally empties. Most plants need a drying out period, much as humans need to breathe in between gulps of water. When watering, let the reservoir empty completely. The length of time the reservoir is left empty will depend on the needs of each plant, but generally speaking, this time frame is one to three days.

The Bird of Paradise’s leaves naturally split, allowing light to reach the lower parts of the plant. To minimize splitting, keep your plant out of drafts and add more humidity with a mister, pebble tray, or humidifier.


Can Bird of Paradise get too much sun?

Impact on Flowering and Growth Yellowing leaves can mean your plant is throwing in the towel on photosynthesis because of too much light. Notice a lack of flowers? It might be sulking from the sun’s intense love affair. Curling leaves are a sign your Bird of Paradise is trying to shield itself from the solar barrage.

Where is the best place to plant a Bird of Paradise?

White bird of paradise can grow in zones 9B through 11 and is cold sensitive. Only consider planting it if you can dedicate enough space to accommodate its massive mature size. It prefers a location that is in full sun to light shade, with moist, well-drained soil.

Can Bird of Paradise survive in shade?

To grow bird of paradise, plant in direct light. This plant is a tropical and needs warm soil, air, and sunshine. It tolerates partial shade well, but shade can impact its size and shape.

How often do you water a Bird of Paradise?

Bird of Paradise needs 0.8 cups of water every 9 days when it doesn’t get direct sunlight and is potted in a 5.0″ pot.