Birds of Paradise Plant Indoor Care: Bringing the Tropics Indoors

Birds of Paradise Plant Indoor Care

The Birds of Paradise plant, Strelitzia Reginae, is a true show-stopper, with orange and blue flowers shining on top like exotic birds in flight.

Native to South Africa, these stalwart tropical plants make excellent indoor specimens and may lend a lush jungle vibe to your home decor with broad, stiff leaves and gaudy blooms.

Although it might look pretty finicky, in reality, birds of paradise are quite an easygoing house plant provided their basic needs are met.

Most will allow you to appreciate their magnificent flowers all year long, no matter how far the climate is from their place of origin.

Let’s dig deep into all that you may wish to know about keeping your birds of paradise plant thriving indoors.

Birds of Paradise Plant, Indoor Care

Birds of Paradise Plant Indoor Care

Environmental Factor Ideal Conditions
Light Exposure Direct sunlight for 6+ hours per day; supplement with grow lights as needed
Temperature Range 65-80°F during the day; No lower than 50°F at night
Humidity Level 50% or higher humidity
Soil Mix Fast-draining potting mix with ingredients like peat moss, perlite, bark
Watering Frequency Allow top 2-3 inches of soil to dry between waterings; Water thoroughly until moisture drains from bottom of pot
Fertilizer Needs Apply balanced liquid fertilizer (10-10-10 or 12-12-12 ratio) every 2 weeks during spring/summer
Potting Repot every 2-3 years into a container 1-2 inches wider with fresh potting mix
Pruning Remove dead/damaged leaves as needed; Cut off spent flower stalks after blooming

Light Requirements

Birds of paradise are sun-worshippers that need lots of bright light to put on their best show.

In their native environments, they are bathed in full sun almost the entire day.

Growing them indoors, it is always a good practice to locate your plant in a sunroom or close to a big unobstructed south- or west-facing window where the sun will come through not less than 6 hours a day by direct exposure.

If you haven’t found a bright location, you may have to make up for it with artificial lighting. Place your plant under a grow light or combine fluorescent and LED bulbs to keep it under light for 12–14 hours a day at least.

Inadequate light will cause the plant to become leggy and stretched out as it strains toward the light source.

Temperature and Humidity

These tropical beauties are warm and humid. Try to keep indoor bird of paradise plants between 65 and 80°F during the day and no lower than 50°F at night.

Cold drafts can damage the foliage. The plants also prefer humidity levels of at least 50%, though higher is better if you want to avoid leaf browning.

Grouping plants together can increase ambient humidity, or you can run a humidifier near them. The leaves can be misted on a regular basis.

Soil and Repotting

Birds of Paradise like a rich but well-draining potting mix. A good blend could contain peat moss, perlite, and bark chunks.

You won’t want to use heavy mixes that can retain water, as they will cause root rot in the bird of paradise.

Remember to incorporate some slow-release fertilizer when planting to provide them with sufficient nutrients, as they are huge feeders.

These plants are generally slow-growing when kept indoors but eventually should be repotted every 2-3 years in the spring.

Select a new pot that is only 1-2 inches wider than the previous one to prevent excess soil that might remain saturated. This is also an excellent opportunity for refreshing the potting mix and pruning dead or damaged foliage.

Watering Requirements

Proper watering is essential for an indoor bird of paradise plant. Let the soil dry out a bit in between waterings, but make sure that it doesn’t dry out to the extent that the plant wilts.

Check for moisture before watering by inserting your finger into the potting mix to at least the second knuckle.

These plants should generally be watered about once a week during the warm growing season. Cut back the watering in winter when growth naturally slows.

Use room temperature water and soak the soil so that excess will run out of the bottom of the pot.

Often, yellow or dry and crispy leaf tips mean the plant is not getting enough water.

Soft, mushy leaves or stems generally mean you’ve been overdoing it with the water. Adjust your watering schedule based on the information above if you see any of these signs.


You guessed it birds of paradise are heavy feeders! Give them an excellent liquid fertilizer every two weeks during the spring and summer growing seasons.

Try to find one with an N-P-K ratio of something like 10-10-10 or 12-12-12.

You can also use a diluted liquid seaweed or fish emulsion fertilizer.

Do not fertilize in winter months, as that is when growth naturally slows down. Too many nutrients at that time could do more damage than good.

Pruning and Grooming

Indoor birds of paradise plants don’t require extensive pruning, but trimming off dead or damaged leaves as needed will help keep them looking tidy.

Make clean cuts with sterilized pruners as close to the base of the plant as possible.

As leaves reach the end of their life span (1-3 years), they will typically begin to yellow and brown before dying back entirely.

Cut these off at the base of the plant as they occur. Plants will also benefit from occasional grooming to wipe dust off larger leaves with a damp cloth. This allows the plant to photosynthesize properly.

Flowering and Propagation

With their preferred growing conditions met, indoor birds of paradise will usually flower at least once per year, often more.

The flowers emerge from a stiff, upright stem in a horizontal fan of brightly colored bracts that many mistake for petals.

The actual flowers are the small, tubular blue ones poking out from within the orange bracts.

These flamboyant flowers last for a week with proper care of the plant itself and diligence in removing the faded flowers and seed pods.

Snapping off the dried flower spike will prompt the plant to produce even more blooms.

Birds of paradise can be propagated by division in the spring once their rootball has outgrown its current container.

For this, you have to take the whole plant out of its pot and, using a clean, sharp knife, divide it into two or more parts, each consisting of some part of the stems and roots.

You can report these divisions into fresh soil and in new containers, watering them well.

Diseases and Pests

Typically laid back, bird of paradise plants may sometimes be affected by:

  • Yellowing leaves: This usually is due to overwatering, poor drainage, or lack of nutrients. Allow the plant to dry out more between watering and fertilization.
  • Brown leaf tips or edges: Usually indicate a sign that the air is too dry and the humidity is low. Raise humidity levels around the plant.
  • Inability to flower: Results from insufficient light. Move to a brighter location or use additional grow light. Also, allow the soil to dry out more in between watering.
  • Pests: Occasionally, indoor plants are plagued by spider mites, mealybugs, and scales. At the first sign of insects, rinse the plant with insecticidal soap or neem oil.

Providing the Ideal Environment

While birds of paradise have some specific needs, creating their ideal environment indoors is quite possible with a few extra considerations.

Let’s take a look at how to maximize their growth and flowering potential.


We’ve already described the temperature that birds of paradise prefer: between 65–80°F.

But it’s essential not to keep them in locations with high heat. Avoid placing your plant in direct sunlight through a window, where glass can magnify the heat and possibly burn the leaves.

Also, vents, fireplaces, or radiators can be problematic by creating hot, dry air pockets around the plant, so keep birds of paradise several feet away from direct heat sources.

In contrast, you will wish to shield them from cold drafts in the winter months coming from windows, outside doors, or air conditioning units.

A sudden drop in temperature could shock the plant and cause damage to its leaves or dieback. Sheer curtains are beneficial in forming warm microclimates while still allowing sun rays to break through.

Make It More Humid

If your home is arid, particularly in the wintertime, you might have to do something special to keep the humidity up around your bird of paradise.

Again, as noted, the plants like at least 50% humidity.

The most straightforward solution for you would be to use a humidifier.

But there are a few other options if a standalone humidifier investment is not up your alley. Give these a shot:

  • Use a humidity tray: Place the plant’s pot on a tray or saucer filled with pebbles and water. As the water evaporates, it will create a micro-humid environment around the plant.
  • Mist often: Frequent misting of the leaves can help bring humidity up for a little while. Just be sure to use water at room temperature to avoid shocking the plant.
  • Group plants: Group your bird of paradise with other humidity-loving houseplants to create a pocket of higher humidity.

Maximizing Light Exposure

We can’t overstate the importance of giving your bird of paradise as much direct sunlight as possible.

Their vast, stiff leaves are designed to absorb tons of intense light to fuel growth and flowering.

Lucky you if your light is in your bright, sunny sunroom or greenhouse.

Otherwise, keep your plant in front of the sunniest window in your home. An even exposure to both morning and afternoon sun is ideal.

You will probably want to rotate the pot regularly since the plant will lean and stretch toward its light source.

Artificial lighting might be necessary to supplement low light during the darker winter months. A good full-spectrum LED or fluorescent grow light, positioned just a few inches above the plant, will supply additional lighting.

Run the lights for 12–16 hours a day. Just ensure the lamps do not create too much heat that could singe or desiccate your plant.

Container Considerations

The right pot plays a vital role in indoor birds of paradise care.

The root systems of these plants are coarse and vigorous, requiring ample space and good drainage.

Terra cotta is an ideal container as its porous clay allows excess soil moisture to evaporate readily. Just remember, with terra cotta pots, you must water more often.

Pots made of plastic, fiberglass, or glazed ceramics can also be used, provided they have a sound drainage hole and you don’t let the plant sit in excess water.

The pot itself should provide ample room for the rootball but not be oversized to the point that too much damp soil promotes root rot.

When potting or repotting, ensure that drainage material, such as a layer of gravel, is placed in the bottom of the container and is at least partially covered by permeable landscape fabric.

That way, extra water can freely drain away from the roots.

As birds of paradise mature and the rootball increases, the plants likely will have to be moved into a larger, heavier container.

These plants are top-heavy, so once they reach anything a few feet tall, they tend to fall right over.

For Further Reading:

Bird of Paradise – How to Plant & Grow Strelitzia (

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