Best Sunlight Exposure for Bird of Paradise Plants

Bird of Paradise plants (Strelitzia) require approximately 6 to 8 hours of bright, direct sunlight daily to thrive. However, avoid exposing your Bird of Paradise to too much direct afternoon sunlight, which can cause discoloration of the plant’s foliage. For optimal growth, I position Bird of Paradise plants 3 feet away from an east or south-facing window in my home to provide ideal light levels throughout the day.

How Much Light Do Bird of Paradise Plants Need

The Importance of Light for Plant Growth

Whether growing indoors or outdoors, all plants require some level of light. Sunlight is one of the crucial components of photosynthesis, the process that plants use to produce food and energy. Without sunlight, plants wouldn’t be able to create new leaves or flowers.

Plants produce a green pigment in their leaves called chlorophyll to make photosynthesis possible. This allows them to absorb energy from sunlight, which plants combine with carbon dioxide and water.

By mixing these ingredients, plants can produce a vital sugar called glucose. Plants use glucose as a fuel source to manufacture cellulose, the basic building block of plant tissue.

Cellulose is used to construct healthy new stems, producing new leaves and flowers. If plants don’t get enough sunlight to photosynthesize appropriately, they can’t manufacture cellulose or grow.

Many popular houseplants were originally tropical plants that require warm, humid conditions. In cooler areas, tropical houseplants like Bird of Paradise plants may struggle to flower without sunlight.

However, plants can also suffer if they get too much direct sunlight. When houseplants are overexposed to direct sunlight, their leaves and flowers may suffer from sunburn. Too much light can also cause the color of the flowers to fade.

Types of Light for Houseplants

Different houseplants require varying levels of light. As such, it can sometimes be difficult to know what the different types of light are. Usually, horticulturalists refer to three main categories of light exposure for houseplants:

Low Light

Also known as partial shade, low light conditions suit houseplants that cannot handle much bright light. Plants that require low light prefer to spend most of their day in the shade. Low light conditions are expected in rooms with north-facing windows.

Bright, Indirect Light

Bright, indirect light is sometimes referred to as filtered or mixed light. Plants that need bright, indirect light typically require a few hours of direct sunlight during the morning. These plants can then spend most of the day in the shade.

Bright, indirect light is ideal for most types of houseplants. Positioning plants approximately 3 feet away from an east or south-facing window provides bright, indirect light. You can also provide bright, indirect light by filtering sunlight through a blind or net curtain.

Bright, direct light

Plants that need bright, direct light require six to eight hours of direct exposure to sunlight each day. This type of light isn’t suitable for most types of houseplants apart from cacti or succulents. Areas that provide bright, direct light include south, southwest, or west-facing windows.

Light Conditions Bird of Paradise Plants Receive in Their Native Habitats

A bird of paradise plant growing in partial light conditions in the wild

Bird of Paradise plants are native to coastal brush and riverbank habitats in South Africa. These plants live in a subtropical climate that provides plenty of sun. As such, Bird of Paradise plants are used to basking in open areas that receive bright, direct sunlight. Bird of Paradise plants are also used to warm temperatures and cannot handle the cold well.

Signs That Your Plant Is Receiving Too Much Light

Bird of Paradise plants need lots of bright light and thrive when they receive direct sunlight during the morning. However, sunlight is more intense during the afternoon, so direct exposure could harm your Bird of Paradise.

Here are a few signs that indicate that your Bird of Paradise is receiving too much sunlight:

Brown Spots on the Leaves

If your Bird of Paradise develops brown spots on its leaves, it could be exposed to too much direct sunlight. The brown spots are caused by intense direct sunlight burning your plant’s leaves. This can impact your Bird of Paradise plant’s ability to photosynthesize properly.

Drooping Leaves

Bird of Paradise plants with drooping leaves may be exposed to too much direct light. Plants use more moisture when exposed to direct light, leaving them dehydrated. Either water your Bird of Paradise more frequently or move it away from the window.

Signs That Your Plant Isn’t Receiving Enough Light

If your Bird of Paradise doesn’t get enough light, it will struggle to grow. Here are a few signs that your Bird of Paradise isn’t getting the right amount of light:

Lack of Flowers

Bird of Paradise plants can take years to produce flowers indoors. However, they need lots of bright, direct light to bloom once they’re ready. If your Bird of Paradise plant hasn’t produced flowers for years, it may need more light.

Curling or Dropping Leaves

If your Bird of Paradise plant has curling leaves that occasionally drop off, it may need more sunlight. However, this can also be caused by cold temperatures.

Weak, Stunted, or Leggy Growth

Bird of Paradise plants that can only produce weak, leggy, or stunted growth may not be getting enough light. These plants need lots of bright, direct sunlight to produce healthy growth.

The Best Light Exposure for Bird of Paradise Plants

Stream of sunlight hitting the large green leaves of a bird of paradise plant

Bird of Paradise plants need approximately 6 to 8 hours of bright, direct sunlight daily. Position Bird of Paradise plants approximately 3 feet away from an east or south-facing window to provide optimal light levels.

Ensure that your Bird of Paradise receives direct light in the morning rather than the afternoon. During the summer, afternoon light is more intense. This means that direct exposure to afternoon sunlight could damage your Bird of Paradise plant.

Bird of Paradise plants need consistent light levels throughout the year. During the winter, the days are shorter, which means less light. Move your Bird of Paradise plant to a brighter area in the winter to ensure that it gets enough sunlight.


Wrapping Up

Bird of Paradise plants need 6 to 8 hours of bright, direct light throughout the year. Place your Bird of Paradise approximately 3 feet away from an east or south-facing window to provide optimal light levels. Protect your Bird of Paradise from direct exposure to intense afternoon sunlight.

For more, see our in-depth guide to the best soil mix for Bird of Paradise plants and the meaning and symbolism of Bird of Paradise flowers.

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