Overwatered Bird Of Paradise: How To Save Overwatered Strelitzia (if Possible)

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Having problems with an overwatered Bird Of Paradise? There are five species of Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia sp.) These members of the Strelitziaceae family of plants come from southern Africa and do well in any warm, humid, subtropical setting.

In fact, the Bird of Paradise has naturalized in many parts of South America and Portugal. Although they are native to rainy jungle settings and naturally choose to grow in riparian environments, they are drought-tolerant plants and will greatly suffer if overwatered.

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This article shares how to save or salvage an overwatered Strelitzia. Read on to learn more. 

Plant Care 101: Bird of Paradise “Strelitzia Nicolai”

How Much Is Too Much Water For Bird Of Paradise? 

The amount of water your Strelitzia needs will vary from one setting to another, and will depend upon the following factors:

  • Light levels
  • Temperatures
  • Humidity levels
  • The type of soil that surrounds its rhizomes

An ideal setting would provide:

  • Temperatures ranging from 60° to 70° degrees Fahrenheit
  • Ample bright, indirect sunlight
  • Rich, well-draining soil
  • 60% humidity levels

Plants in the landscape that receive regular rainfall and have ideal conditions may never need watering at all. 

Those kept in containers will do best with a soak and dry watering. Water very thoroughly, allowing excess water to drain off.

Do not water again until the top couple inches of soil are dry. [source]

Overwatering Causes Root Rot

During the first six months of your plant’s life, it will need consistent moisture to help it become well established.

If the soil is too soggy or too dry for an extended period, its leaves will turn yellow, and the plant will die. 

To prevent this, provide a thick layer of organic mulch to help the soil retain moisture. 

This includes:

  • Wood chips
  • Bark
  • Pine needles

Avoid overwatering. 

Once the initial six months have passed, these hardy plants can do very well with just rainfall or regular soak-and-dry watering during the spring and summer months.

In autumn and winter, reduce watering fairly dramatically. Water only when the soil is mostly dry during this rest period. 

Steps To Save An Overwatered Bird Of Paradise

If you do accidentally overwater your plant and find that the plant is suffering, follow these steps: 

1. If the only symptom is that the leaves are starting to yellow, be sure that you are providing all of the factors listed as “ideal setting” factors above. Hold water until the soil is quite dry, and resume soak and dry watering. 

2. If the soil is very soggy and smells bad, root rot has probably set in. When this is the case, the plants’ stems may begin to brown from the soil up. If the stem is soft and mushy, root rot is a sure sign. Large numbers of yellowing, brown, and wilted leaves indicate root rot. 

3. When this happens, you will need to relocate plants in the landscape to a new setting with well-draining soil that has been amended with ample amounts of organic matter to improve drainage. 

4. Container plants should be moved to all new or sterilized containers with ample drainage holes and fresh, well-draining potting mix. You may wish to add a bit of vermiculite or coarse sand to improve drainage. 

5. Before replanting your ailing Bird of Paradise, examine it carefully and trim away all dead or dying leaves

6. Rinse and examine the roots. Cut away any that are soft or mushy. Healthy roots may be either dark or pale, but they are never mushy. Instead, they should be flexible and firm. 

7. When you trim the roots, you may be able to divide the healthy roots to create more than one plant. This can give you better odds of success. [source]

8. After replanting or repotting your Strelitzia, withhold water until the soil is fairly dry and provide a thorough watering and a fungicidal treatment. 

9. Watch your plant for new growth. When it begins to grow, you’ll know it is recovering successfully. However, if a fungal infection remains, your plant will continue to exhibit stunted growth. 

10. If new growth appears and then turns brown and dies back, your plant still has a fungal infection. Provide another anti-fungal treatment. 


  • Whether in the landscape or in containers, adding horticultural activated charcoal to the soil will help prevent root rot. 
  • When treating root rot, provide an antifungal treatment the first time you water after allowing the soil to dry. 
  • Avoid overhead watering because damp stems and leaves enable fungal growth.
  • Water outdoor plants with a soaker hose. Allow container plants to sit in a water container for fifteen or twenty minutes (until the soil is soaked), and then remove the container from the water. 
  • Never allow your Bird Of Paradise to stand in water. 

Bird Of Paradise Is Popular For Good Reason

Although caring for this beautiful plant may seem daunting, once you get it right, you’ll have a fairly carefree plant.

These tall, stately, flowering plants add color and interest to the landscape year-round in warm, inviting places.

That’s why Strelitzia has been named Los Angeles’ official flower. 

In your home, you need only maintain a setting that is consistently warm, airy, bright, and comfortable (and avoid overwatering!) to keep your Strelitzia happy and help it thrive.

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