My bird of paradise has curling leaves, not dry, please help


Hello, my one bird of paradise (I have three) continues to have curled leaves. I use a moisture meter for all my plants, which works extremely well. My other 2 birds are very healthy but this smallest one continues to have it’s leaves curling. Everything I have read states curling leaves mean not enough moisture. As you can see on the meter it is reading wet. Any suggestions how to fix this? Also on the one leaf there is a series of small holes, like a pest problem? I’ve never seen this on any of my plants before.


Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners regarding your Bird of Paradise plant (Strelitzia nicolai).  There are a few things to consider regarding the curling leaves.  Indeed lack of water may be a problem but too much moisture can also cause foliage changes.  This plant likes moist but not soggy conditions.  There is no set schedule for watering house plants but infrequent, deep watering is best in this circumstance.  Let the top 2-3 inches of soil dry out and then water deeply. You can immerse the lower third of the pot in a sink or bowl of water to allow the roots to take up moisture from the bottom.  The pot should have good drainage holes and should be left to drain well after watering.  If there is tray under the pot, ensure there is no standing water.

In winter, our home environments tend to be drier.  Intermittently misting (but not saturating) the plant leaves with water or increasing room humidity with a humidifier can also be helpful.

Light is another consideration.  Bird of Paradise plants can tolerate a range of light levels.  If your plant is currently in medium to low light conditions, consider increasing the light including direct sunlight for up to 4-5 hours / day and monitor the effect.

Unfortunately, the holes on one leaf that you describe are not visible in the picture you have attached.  Check the underside of the leaves, stems and soil for any visible pests.  If there are more leaf holes or the condition spreads to other leaves or plants, please feel free to submit another question with a photo to our site and we will try our best to help.

You may be interested in general information regarding watering indoor plants from the Missouri Botanical Garden and light requirements for indoor plants from the House Plant Journal included in the links below.