Brown spots on bird of paradise is never visually appealing. More importantly, it is a sign that your plant is not healthy.
So, when your beautiful and colorful bird of paradise develops brown spots on its leaves or stem, it is sign that it needs help.
Why are there brown spots on bird of paradise? The most common reason is disease. Fungal infection including mold will cause brown spots on bird of paradise leaves and stems.
But there are other causes as well you may need to check. These include edema, over fertilizing, improper lighting or root rot.
Therefore, never assume it is one cause or another until you’ve narrowed things down.
What Causes Brown Spots on Bird of Paradise?
Brown spots on bird of paradise is usually a sign of infection. In this case, it is gray mold.
The cause of this disease is excess moisture.
Gray mold is often a result of high humidity or leaves getting wet and staying wet for prolonged periods of time.
Any time moisture stays on foliage for extended periods, it increases the risk of different kinds of diseases.
In addition to your bird of paradise leaves developing brown spots, you’ll se the leaves wilt or split as well.
Eventually, the leaves will die and fall off. They will then decay.
How Do You Fix This?
Since gray mold is caused by excess moisture, the most important thing to prevent it is to keep the plant dry.
Bird of Paradise like medium to high humidity.
Ideally, it prefers humidity at 50% to 60%. And while it does well in very high humidity conditions, you want to be extra careful that the moisture does not cause infections.
Thus, in addition to good humidity, it is a good idea to keep the plant a well-lit location (with not direct sunlight) and good ventilation.
This will allow the plant to bask in the humidity it likes without excess moisture becoming stagnant.
Some people like to mist the plant to help keep humidity up.
While this helps, you need to be extra careful since over misting will leave water spots and keep the leaves damp.
Similarly, overhead watering where you wet the entire plant including its leaves can be dangerous is the moisture stays on the leaves for long periods of time after that.
On the other hand, if your bird of paradise has brown spots due to gray mold, cut off all the damaged and affected tissues.
Try to keep the plant dry as well while providing it with good ventilation.
If there are any debris or leaves that drop, remove them from the soil. As these decay, the also increase the risk of infection and other issues.
Excess Light Exposure
Another common cause of brown spots on bird of paradise is too much sunlight or heat.
The plant enjoys plenty of light.
And it thrives when given 6 or more hours of sunlight daily.
However, keep in mind that the plant cannot tolerate very intense light including direct sunlight. Similarly, it won’t be able to withstand lots of heat.
If you leave it in too much light, its leaves will start developing brown spots.
The longer it stays there, the larger the brown spots will be. In more intense heat or light, you’ll see scorching or burn marks appear as well.
In addition to brown spots, you’ll see the leaves curl and become dry or crispy.
How Do You Fix This?
Fortunately, it is very easy to fix excess light. All you need to do is move the plant to a less bright location.
That said, it is important to understand how much light a bird of paradise plant needs.
Bird of paradise thrive in medium to bright, indirect light.
They cannot tolerate too much strong or intense light. As such, avoid leaving it under direct sunlight or full sun for more than 2 or 3 hours a day.
If you do, you’ll see the leaves get damaged.
Similarly, if you use artificial lights, keep in mind that the bulbs also emit heat.
So, if you keep the plant too near the grow lights, you’ll eventually see brown marks on the leaves as well. These will resemble burn markings.
A simple way to make sure that that plant gets indirect light is to position it somewhere that’s well-lit. But place it so that the plant is never hit by the sun’s direct yellow rays.
It is also worth noting that you do not want to leave your bird of paradise in low light or very little light.
Dark corners or dim areas are no-no’s.
Lack of light can also cause brown leaves on bird of paradise plants.
Additionally, you’ll see its growth slow down, the plant will droop, the leaves may not open or even split.
Overfertilizing is another reason for brown spots on bird of paradise.
This is caused by applying too much fertilizer, adding it too often or feeding the plant when it does not need the nutrients.
It is also worth noting that applying too much pesticides or herbicides can also cause your bird of paradise leaves to develop brown spots.
All of these products as chemical based.
And they all contain salt, additives and chemicals.
In general, plants don’t like salt. And when too much salt builds up in the soil, it becomes toxic to the plant.
This is why you do not want to keep adding fertilizer if the plant does not need it.
It is also why giving your bird of paradise more plant food in hopes to let it grow bigger faster is never a good idea.
As you add more fertilizer, you’re not only adding more nutrients but also salt.
When too much salt accumulates in the soil, it will damage the roots and later on reach the leaves.
When this happens, you’ll see the edges of the plant’s leaves turn yellow or brown. The roots will also sustain damage turning brown or even black if the condition is more serious.
How Do You Fix This?
When it comes to treating brown spots on bird of paradise due to excess fertilizer, it is important to consider two things.
One is fixing the problem if there already brown spots or yellowing on the leaves.
Second is how to prevent it from happening in the future.
The good news is that mild overfertilization can be fixed fairly easily.
Here, you have a couple of choices.
The most common is to flush the soil. You can do this by running water on the soil so that the liquid will drip down the bottom of the plant.
This process will soak the root ball with moisture. And the running water will carry out the excess salts and chemicals along with it.
Keep the water running for about 5 minutes.
It is also a good idea to change the position of the hose or where you pour.
After you’re done, allow the plant to completely drain to over waterlogging and overwatering.
A more aggressive option is to repot the plant.
Here, remove your bird of paradise from the pot. Brush off the excess soil from the roots.
You want to get all of the soil away since they will contain some chemicals and salt.
You can run the roots through a sink or use a hose to remove the stubborn soil easily.
After that, let the roots dry on several old newspapers.
Once the roots are dry, repot the plant in freshy, dry soil. This will let you start over and immediate get your bird of paradise out of the overfertilized soil.
To avoid overfertilizing your bird of paradise, apply a balanced fertilizer only during its growing season.
This is during the spring and summer. Once a month feeding is sufficient.
Make sure to dilute the application to half strength when you feed your plant. And never add fertilizer when the soil is dry.
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Edema simply means swelling. And this happens when the plant gets too much water.
As a result, it takes in more water than it loses via transpiration.
When this happens, you’ll see its leaves begin to swell or look bloated. They will develop blisters as well which is where the water builds up in an uneven fashion.
If the excess water is not relieved, things will progress.
And you’ll begin to see yellow and brown spots on your bird of paradise leaves.
Like other issues, the spots will keep increasing and you’ll see more leaves get affected if the excess moisture persists.
How Do You Fix This?
Fortunately, edema is easy to solve. It is not an infection so it will not spread to other plants.
However, you do want to fix the problem before it messes up all your beautiful plant’s leaves.
Similarly, it is usually a sign that there’s a bigger issue on hand, overwatering.
Since overwatering can lead to more serious issues like root rot, the edema acts as a warning sign telling you to seek out a bigger problem.
When it comes to fixing edema in bird of paradise, the goal is to treat the underlying issue.
In this case, excess moisture.
As such, check your watering routine. Additionally, keep the plant in a well-lit location with no direct sunlight. Ideally, choose a location with good ventilation to help moisture dry faster.
In addition to adjusting your watering schedule, check the soil to ensure that it is drainage sufficiently.
Bird of paradise need well-draining soil. This will allow the soil to drain excess liquid quickly to avoid waterlogging and overwatering.
Similarly, check to make sure that the pot the plant is in has enough drainage holes.
If not, repot the plant in a more suitable container or change the soil if needed.
Brown spots on bird of paradise can also be caused by root rot.
This is the most serious issue in our list. That’s because if left untreated or not detected early enough, it can become fatal.
In addition to brown leaves, you’ll also notice that the damage or affected roots turn brown or even black in color.
This is in stark contrast to their white color when healthy.
Unfortunately, rotten roots are dead roots.
As such, there is no reviving, healing or resuscitating them.
More importantly, they don’t function anymore. This means that your plant won’t be able to absorb as much nutrients or water is did before when all its roots were healthy.
This is what causes all the deficiencies including slow or stunted growth.
It is also worth noting that root rot spreads. And it will do so at a fairly fast rate.
So, the earlier it is detected, the better your chances of saving your bird of paradise plant.
But this is easier said than done.
That’s because roots are hidden under the soil.
So, we usually notice the problem when the symptoms start showing up in the leaves or stems (which we can see).
By then, it means that the root rot is already happening and it has done some kind of damage already.
How Do You Fix This?
Root rot is caused by overwatering.
But the death of the roots and their rotting usually happens when the suffocate from lack of oxygen due to the excess moisture.
If this does not happen, the wet, damp conditions promotes the growth of fungi.
And certain pathogens will attack the roots of your plant.
And the fungal disease makes its way through the roots, the roots get damaged, die and then rot.
Either way, you end up losing healthy roots.
As such, the best way to avoid root rot is to avoid overwatering altogether.
In order to do this, it is important to always check the soil before you add water. If the soil feels wet or moist, don’t add water yet.
Only add water when the top 2-3 inches of soil has dried out. This will prevent you from watering the plant too often.
Additionally, check the soil to ensure that it is drainage enough moisture.
Make sure you use well-draining soil and a pot with drainage holes at the bottom. Otherwise, the water you pour onto the soil will be retained by the soil or build up at the bottom of the pot.
Either way, the roots stay wet.
However, if your bird of paradise has brown spots as a result of root rot, then it is very important to take immediate action.
You’ll need to prune the rotten roots and treat the remaining healthy root system with fungicide. The latter ensures that no pathogens remain.
Then repot the plant in fresh, dry, well-draining soil.
Don’t forget to adjust your watering schedule to avoid overwatering in the future.