Bird of Paradise burned leaves is something that I have recently had the pleasure of dealing with.
Too much direct sunlight on the leaves is the main reason why leaves can get scorched on Birds of Paradise, and this can become more likely to happen if your plant is underwatered or if humidity is low.
In this guide, I’ll take you through everything there is to know about burned leaves on Bird of Paradise plants from my own experience, including symptoms, remedies, and prevention tips.
- What Causes Bird Of Paradise Burned Leaves?
- 3 Classic Symptoms Of Sun Scorch On Bird Of Paradise Plants
- Factors That Make Bird Of Paradise More Susceptible To Sun Scorch
- Dealing With Burned Leaves
- Preventative Measures
- In Summary
What Causes Bird Of Paradise Burned Leaves?
In my experience, Bird of Paradise leaves get sunburned (also called sun scorch) when they receive too much direct sunlight.
As summer fast approaches, I’ve noticed that one of my Bird of Paradise plants has started to receive intense direct sunlight later in the day. Luckily for me, the affected leaves are lower down and smaller, but you can see the impact in the image below.
Prolonged exposure to direct sunlight causes leaves to lose more moisture than usual. If they aren’t able to replace this moisture quickly, which they usually won’t be able, it causes the leaves to become damaged.
Outdoor Bird of Paradise plants tend to adapt better to direct sunlight, but it’s still best to aim for bright, indirect sunlight rather than intense, direct sunlight to protect the leaves.
3 Classic Symptoms Of Sun Scorch On Bird Of Paradise Plants
Here are the three most common symptoms of sunburned Bird of Paradise leaves.
Brown Leaf Margins
I’ve noticed that one of the symptoms of burned leaves on my Bird Of Paradise plants is the appearance of brown leaf margins.
Margins or edges on the leaves are usually one of the first places where Bird of Paradise leaves lose moisture, which is seen amongst many plants.
Brown edges can also be a sign of underwatering, so it’s important to look for this symptom and a few others simultaneously to confirm sun scorch.
Brown And Yellow Spots
One of the most common symptoms of sun scorch that I’ve come across is irregular spots on the leaves with brown centers and yellow halos.
If you notice these types of spots – and be careful not to confuse them with diseases like leaf spot – it’s a good indication that you are dealing with sun scorch.
I’ve observed that the tips of my Bird Of Paradise leaves can also turn brown due to sun scorch.
Brown tips are a classic sign that a leaf is losing moisture, which is exactly what prolonged exposure to the sun causes.
This can also be a sign of underwatering, though, so be sure to look out for irregular spots on the leaves as well.
Factors That Make Bird Of Paradise More Susceptible To Sun Scorch
Direct sunlight is the major issue, but a Bird of Paradise plant can become more susceptible to sun scorch due to several other factors.
Birds of Paradise thrive in high-humidity environments (60-70%) due to their origin in subtropical areas of South Africa, but what does this have to do with sun scorch?
If the humidity is low, your Bird of Paradise leaves will lose moisture more quickly via transpiration. Combine this with intense, direct sunlight and the leaves will scorch much faster.
Bird of Paradise plants can struggle in extremely hot temperatures, especially when combined with direct sunlight.
This has the same principle as low humidity – when the temperature is higher, transpiration increases which mean the leaves are more susceptible to sun scorch.
Underwatering is another significant factor that can make Bird of Paradise plants more susceptible to sun scorch.
The moisture lost through the leaves is replaced by moisture from the soil absorbed by the roots. If the soil is underwatered, your Bird of Paradise won’t be able to replace the moisture quickly enough, making sun scorch much more likely.
Lack Of Soil & Root Issues
A not-so-well-known factor that can make Birds of Paradise more susceptible to sun scorch is poor rot conditions, particularly if the roots are tightly bound.
Tightly-bound roots have less access to soil and cannot absorb as much moisture, leaving the leaves vulnerable to moisture loss and therefore sunburn.
Sudden Changes In The Environment
Bird of Paradise plants adapt to their environment.
They do obviously have preferred conditions, but these adaptions allow the plant to survive if they are sub-optimal. Sudden changes in these conditions can make sun scorch more likely.
This is very similar to transplant shock, which can also leave your Bird of Paradise more susceptible to sun scorch.
Dealing With Burned Leaves
Here are my steps to deal with burned leaves on my Elephant Ear.
Move To A More Shaded Location
When I noticed my Bird of Paradise getting scorched by the sun, I first moved my plant so that it wasn’t receiving direct sunlight.
This is the obvious thing to do to protect the rest of the leaves.
Treating Affected Leaves
After moving my plant, I like to prune any leaves that are scorched severely. Leaves with brown edges are usually fine to leave as they are, but those with several spots should be removed.
These leaves will die anyway, and I prefer to prune them to focus the plant’s energy on new growth. To do this, I used a pair of sterile pruning tools and cut the leaf from the base of the stem (these were smaller leaves in my case, though).
Water The Soil
After pruning any severely scorched leaves, I like to check the soil.
Since underwatered soil makes sun scorch much more likely, it’s important to ensure the soil is moist to aid recovery. In my case, the soil wasn’t actually very dry, but I was fortunate enough to spot the sun scorch very early on.
In severe cases, the soil may be much drier than you would expect, so always check it and water it if needed.
You can’t prevent sun scorch 100% of the time; I’m a prime example of that.
Sometimes the weather changes unexpectedly, and it doesn’t take long for leaves to get scorched, especially smaller ones. There are some things you can do to make it less likely to happen, though:
- Position your Bird of Paradise in bright, indirect sunlight.
- Make sure it has the right humidity and is watered often.
- Consider moving it to a more shaded position if the weather forecast is particularly hot and dry.
- Avoid sudden changes in position where possible.
Does Sun Scorch Kill Bird Of Paradise Plants?
Bird of Paradise plants are quite hardy, and sun scorch is more of a nuisance than something that would kill them.
Very severe cases of sun scorch might kill off several leaves, but your plant will recover if these conditions don’t persist for weeks at a time. Outdoor Bird of Paradise plants are more susceptible as moving them out of the way in hot, drought-like conditions will be harder.
It really would take a lot of neglect for sun scorch to be the main reason for a dying Bird of Paradise, and at that stage, other factors like underwatering would also have to be considered.
I hope this guide has given you all the information you need about sunburn on Bird of Paradise plants.
Don’t forget to monitor your plant leaves – especially in hot and dry weather – and consider moving it if the weather is going to be particularly hot.
Sun scorch can affect a lot of different plants and is a lot more common than you would think – check out some of our recent articles on the topic below: