Hello, I inherited a ailing bird of paradise recently and am trying to nurse it back to health. All of its leaves including some new growth are dropping / folding downward. The plant gets a lot of light and I water regularly when the top few inches of soil are dry. The plant had a lot of fungus growing on the soil when I got it so I washed the roots, replaced the soils, and reported about 4 months ago. Appreciate any suggestions.
Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners. Bird of paradise (Strelitzia reginae) is such a spectacular plant ! If your plant has had new growth since you repotted it 4 months ago, that’s a good sign, and the front leaf does appear to be healthy. However, the first thing that struck me about your photo is that the front leaf is enormous compared to the size of the pot. I suggest that you repot into a pot that is the next size up, and has a drainage hole (it looks like the current pot has one), and use a good potting soil, then water well. Usually you can expect to have to repot this plant every 12-18 months, but check the roots first to see if your plant is pot-bound (numerous roots, wound tightly around the pot), and if so then repot. Keep in mind though, that after your plant is fully healthy and 4-5 years old, it will need to be pot-bound in order to flower.
Another possibility for drooping leaves is over watering along with improper light conditions. In proper lighting conditions (full sun), S. reginae drinks plenty of water. However, if your plant is not receiving enough light, it is more susceptible to overwatering. Since you inherited this plant, I’m assuming that its location is now different from wherever it was situated when it grew to its current size, and possibly not as sunny. S. reginae can tolerate medium light conditions but it needs enough bright light to thrive. Indoors, it does best in a sunny spot with at least 4-5 hours of sunlight daily, so ideally in a southern exposure. Generally, this plant prefers moist but not soggy conditions, and indoors in the winter, the top 2-3 inches at least should be allowed to dry out before watering deeply.
Here is a link to additional information about your Bird of Paradise that you might find helpful :
Also, there are numerous posts on our website about Bird of paradise. Simply type Bird of Paradise into the Find It Here Box located on the right side of the page.
Good luck restoring your Bird of paradise to good health !