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Plant Answer Line Question

Keywords: Strelitzia reginae, House plants

I think that my bird of paradise plant is dying. Last year it had around 8 leaves, now it is down to 3 and they are all starting to yellow. I recently bought some fertilizer, but it hasn't seemed to help. I moved it to a window with more light, and it still seems upset. What can I do to revive it?


According to Rodale's Encyclopedia of Indoor Gardening edited by Anne Halpin (Rodale Press, 1980) and The House Plant Expert by D. G. Hessayon (Expert Books, 2001), the ideal growing conditions for Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae is the most common species) are bright light (direct morning or winter sun, southern or eastern exposure), and a humusy soil mix with good drainage. Keep the plant at 55-60 degrees in the winter, and do not overwater. The rest of the year, it prefers indoor daytime temperatures of 65-70 degrees, and nighttime no lower than 50-55. Let the soil dry out between moderate waterings, and keep humidity at 30-35%. You can improve humidity by misting the leaves from time to time.The plant needs to be pot-bound (not overly roomy container) in order to flower. New plants take 4 to 6 years to flower.

As for fertilizing, you can feed every two weeks with a water soluble fertilizer, but do not fertilize in the winter.

There are several reasons it might have yellowed leaves. It could be due to unfavorable light or temperature, over- or under-watering, or the pot might not be draining well. I can't diagnose the problem via e-mail, but if you try to maintain the appropriate conditions for your plant, it may recover. You can also take pictures and bring a sample leaf or two to a Master Gardener Clinic.

Date 2019-09-19
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