Strelitzia nicolai (Birds of paradise)


The plant has holes in the leaves but i cant find any bugs in the soil


Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners with your concern regarding your Bird of Paradise.

Strelitzia nicolai, white bird pf paradise is native to the tropics of South Africa. Whenever growing a tropical plant it is always best to try and replicate its natural habitat for the plant to thrive. Even though these plants can tolerate medium light conditions, they will not thrive long  without adequate bright light. As a result, it is important that you choose a location where the plant receives at least 4 hours of southern, eastern or western exposure. These plants prefer moist but not soggy soil, therefore make sure that the soil is allowed to dry out between waterings.

Without a photo of what you are seeing it is difficult to recommend a treatment. You mention that you do not see any bugs on your plant. Have you checked the underside of the leaves?  Bird of paradise is susceptible to a number of pests: scale, mealy bugs and spider mites as well as a number of fungal diseases.

Leaf spot, which can be caused by a bacteria or fungus, can also affect the leaves – and might be responsible for the holes you are seeing.  Do you see any reddish brown lesions on the leaves? Common causes are excessive moisture or poor air circulation. If you think this could be a possibility, remove infected leaves and any infected leaf bits that have fallen onto the soil and be sure not to get water on the leaves. Water early in the day so that the surfaces of the leaves have time to dry relatively quickly. Birds of paradise tolerate dryness and mature plants may only need to be watered around once a week – allow the top 5 cm (2 inches) of soil to dry before watering.   Make sure there is plenty of space around the plant so it gets good air circulation.

Lastly, we have numerous posts on Bird of Paradise on our website, Simply type Bird of Paradise into the Find It Here Box located on the right side of the page.

Good Luck with your Bird of Paradise.