In this guide, we’re going to cover some soil basics and information that will help you choose the best soil mix for Bird of Paradise plants (Strelitzia). With elusive flowers and large, luxurious leaves, the bird of paradise is an excellent plant for both new plant parents and houseplant experts. One of the most important parts of caring for these beautiful plants is choosing the proper soil mix. The best soil should balance water-holding and drainage, which will allow your plant to thrive. Read on for tips about choosing a bird of paradise soil mix.
- The Best Soil Mix for Bird of Paradise Plants– The Essentials
- Why Soil Choice Matters
- What are the Primary Components Used in a Potting Mix?
- Common Signs You’re Using the Wrong Soil Mix for Bird of Paradise Plants
- The Importance of Well-Draining Soil for Bird of Paradise Plants
- What Soil pH Levels are Best for Bird of Paradise?
- The Ultimate Bird of Paradise Potting Mix Home Recipe
- The Best Pre-Mixed Soils for Bird of Paradise
- Soil Mix for Bird of Paradise FAQs
- Wrap Up
The Best Soil Mix for Bird of Paradise Plants– The Essentials
A Bird of Paradise plant will grow best in a slightly acidic to neutral potting mix between pH 5.5 to 7.0. The soil mix should hold some water but also allow for aeration and drainage. To make your own mix, combine two parts peat moss, one part perlite, one park bark fines, and one part compost.
Why Soil Choice Matters
Soil provides plants with everything they need, from an anchoring foundation to water, air, and food in the form of nutrients. Minerals such as copper, calcium, nitrogen, and potassium are all key to plant health, and they’re all delivered through the soil.
A proper soil base will:
- provide a space for plant roots to anchor
- allow plants to complete gas exchange
- hold nutrients until plants can absorb them
- provide a habitat for beneficial microorganisms
- hold water
As you might expect, soils can vary quite a bit. This is true for both naturally-occurring soils as well as manufactured potting mixes.
When you look at natural soil, you’ll see it’s broken down into three primary particles: sand, silt, and clay. Sand is the largest, followed by silt and then clay.
The combination of these particles impacts soil texture. Scientists use this texture to classify soils.
Sandy soils are well-draining and well-aerated, but they often have a difficult time holding nutrients and water.
Silty soils balance water-holding and drainage.
Clay soils are great at holding water and nutrients, but they may suffer from drainage issues.
Loamy soils combine sand, silt, and clay to form a well-balanced soil.
Along with these inorganic particles, many soils contain organic matter. This material is made from previously living organisms such as leaves and roots.
Organic matter can improve the water-holding capacity of sandy soils and also improve the drainage of clay soils. It also increases nutrient-holding capacity and provides a home for beneficial microbes.
What are the Primary Components Used in a Potting Mix?
Many potting mixes are made from various combinations of the same components. Here are some common potting soil ingredients.
- Coco coir is an organic material made from coconut husks.
- Compost is decomposed organic matter. It is often high in beneficial microbes.
- Peat moss is organic matter that has been decomposed under wet, anaerobic conditions.
- Perlite is a type of expanded rock that improves aeration and drainage.
- Pine bark fines are small pieces of bark.
- Pumice is a porous volcanic rock that increases aeration and drainage.
- Sand can be used to increase aeration and drainage.
- Vermiculite is an expanded rock that improves water-holding capacity.
- Rocks/pebbles, when added to a tray under a container and covered with water can help to raise humidity.
- Soil Activator, when added to soil, can speed up composting process and release nutrients.
Common Signs You’re Using the Wrong Soil Mix for Bird of Paradise Plants
If you notice your plant’s leaves are turning yellow, wet soil may be to blame. While overwatering is a possible cause, so is improper soil.
Soils that are rich in clay and organic matter can experience issues with drainage. As a bird of paradise plant’s roots sits in wet soils, they essentially begin to drown. Therefore, they have a hard time taking up the nutrients and air they need.
Compacted soils can also lead to issues with drainage, and therefore yellowing leaves.
If you notice yellow leaves, check your plant’s soil. If excess water isn’t running out the bottom of your pot, you’ll need to use potting soil with better drainage.
Wilting leaves are another sign that you might be using the wrong type of potting soil. While you may think wilting leaves indicate dry soil, they can also be a sign of soil that is too wet.
If soil contains too much perlite, sand, rocks, etc., it won’t hold much water. Therefore, a bird of paradise plant might not take up enough water, resulting in wilting leaves.
Soil that is too damp can cause plants to rot, which prohibits water uptake. Over time, leaves begin to wilt.
Fortunately, it’s easy to tell if your soil is too dry or too wet. A few days after you water your plant, stick a finger in the soil.
If it’s still saturated, replace your soil with a mix that drains better. If it’s super dry, swap your soil out of one that holds a bit more water.
The Importance of Well-Draining Soil for Bird of Paradise Plants
Bird of paradise plants prefer moist soil, but they don’t like sitting in wet soil. Therefore, proper drainage is crucial.
If you use poorly-draining soil, your plants may develop a fungal issue known as root rot. This can lead to poor plant health and eventually death.
Materials such as perlite, sand, and pumice improve drainage. Mix these materials with peat moss or coco coir for a well-balanced soil mix.
What Soil pH Levels are Best for Bird of Paradise?
Bird of paradise plants prefers slightly acidic or neutral soil. Look for soil with a pH between 5.5 and 7.0.
The Ultimate Bird of Paradise Potting Mix Home Recipe
When you make a potting mix for your bird of paradise, your goal is to create a mix that balances water-holding with drainage. It should also hold nutrients and allow for aeration.
To make a mix at home, thoroughly combine the following:
- two parts peat moss or coco coir
- one part perlite
- one part pine bark fines
- one part aged compost
Mix in a bit of water until the soil feels moist but not wet. At this point, you’re ready to plant!
The Best Pre-Mixed Soils for Bird of Paradise
If you don’t want to make your own potting soil, you can buy pre-mixed soil. Since potting soils greatly vary, you must choose a mix that works well for bird of paradise plants. The following are all good options:
- Bloomscape Potting Soil
- Dirtco. House & Tropical Plant Potting Soil
- Fox Farm Ocean Forest Organic Potting Soil
- Soil Sunrise Premium Organic Potting Soil Mix
If you’re looking for a new plant that’s potted and composed, see our guide to the best Bird of Paradise plant delivery services.
(Editors Note: Petal Republic participates in partnership programs with Amazon and other merchants to help connect readers with relevant products and services we may recommend).
Soil Mix for Bird of Paradise FAQs
How often should I switch soil for my Bird of Paradise?
You’ll only need to swap out soil when you repot, about every two to four years. However, if you notice an insect infestation or soil disease, switching your soil is a good idea.
Can I use cactus soil for Bird of Paradise?
Cactus soil isn’t ideal for bird of paradise plants. If you want to use it, combine one part cactus soil with one part peat moss.
Do Bird of Paradise like wet or dry soil?
Bird of paradise prefers moist soil rather than wet or dry soil.
What are the primary considerations for soil when repotting Bird of Paradise?
When repotting, make sure to use a well-draining potting mix. Dust the old soil off of the plant’s roots and add new soil to the container.
Does the size of the plant affect the soil mix for Bird of Paradise?
No, the size of the plant does not affect the ideal soil mix. All sizes of bird of paradise plants prefer well-draining, rich soil.
Does the potting container influence the type of soil mix for Bird of Paradise?
No, the type of container does not impact the ideal bird of paradise soil. However, you may need to water plants in terracotta pots more frequently.
Do Bird of Paradise need deep potting containers?
No. Bird of paradise plants will grow well in containers of average depth.
Now that you know how to choose the proper soil for your bird of paradise plant, you can watch your plant grow into a lush, tropical specimen. Remember to choose a well-draining mix that can also hold a bit of water. For more, see our in-depth guide on where to position Bird of Paradise plants for optimal care and Feng Shui benefits.
Briana holds a B.S. in Plant Sciences from Penn State University. She manages a small market garden where she grows vegetables and herbs. She also enjoys growing flowers and houseplants at home.