Gardener’s Guide to the Best Soil Mix for Bird of Paradise

Gardener’s Guide to the Best Soil Mix for Bird of Paradise

Bird of paradise plants’ charm lies in their large, banana-like leaves and their flowers that resemble a bird. But for you to enjoy these charms, you should be able to provide the plant with a good growing medium.

For a bird of paradise plant to thrive, it needs a nutrient-rich soil mix that can hold sufficient moisture while also promoting aeration and effective drainage. The soil should also have a slightly acidic to neutral pH, ideally between 5.5 to 7.0 range.

In this guide, we’ll help you craft the perfect soil mix for your bird of paradise. We’ll cover everything, from the ingredients you’ll need to the soil mix recipes you can follow to have this bird-like flower in your home.

Things to Consider When Choosing Soil for Birds of Paradise

Nutrient Content

Nutrient Content

Having nutrient-rich soil is the key to having a thriving bird of paradise plant. Find soil mixes that are rich in organic matter since they typically have a steady supply of essential nutrients.

Organic matter releases nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium in the soil as it decomposes, making it more fertile and suitable for growing bird of paradise plants. It also helps make the plant more resilient to environmental stressors and diseases.

Stay away from soil mixes made for succulents and cacti since they don’t have enough nutrients to promote healthy growth for birds of paradise. If you’re using standard potting mixes, it can be helpful to amend it with organic matter or liquid fertilizer.

pH level

pH level

pH level affects the availability of nutrients in the soil to your bird of paradise plant. If the soil doesn’t have an appropriate level, a nutrient-rich soil mix won’t be able to do much for your plant as it won’t be able to absorb the nutrients it has.

Bird of paradise plants generally prefer a slightly acidic to neutral pH, around the 5.5 to 7.0 range. Maintaining the soil’s pH level around this range helps ensure the plant has access to all the nutrients it needs for healthy growth.

Regularly monitor the soil’s pH, as it can change over time. If it’s way out of the recommended range, amend it by adding sulfur if it’s too alkaline or limestone if it’s too acidic.

Drainage Capacity

Drainage Capacity

When choosing a soil mix for your bird of paradise plant, choose one with exceptional draining capacity to avoid waterlogged conditions. Soil mixed with perlite, coarse sand, bark, and vermiculite will be your best friend.

Excessive moisture in the soil can create a favorable condition for harmful fungi and bacteria to thrive, impairing the plant’s growth and development. That’s why the plant should be grown in a soil mix that lets excess moisture escape.

Proper drainage is especially important if you’re growing your bird of paradise in a pot. Container plants are more susceptible to overwatering, and good drainage helps prevent water from accumulating around the root zone.



Avoid soil mixes that can get easily compacted because good aeration is important for bird of paradise plants to grow healthily. The plant needs enough oxygen to perform metabolic processes, so the soil should have enough gaps for air to flow.

Lack of air in the soil can suffocate the roots and impede their ability to function properly. It can even hinder their ability to uptake nutrients that are essential to produce new leaves.

Soil mixes made of pure clay are typically not suitable for bird of paradise plants since they get compacted easily. If you have clay soil, it’s best to mix it with coarse sand and perlite to prevent it from compacting.

Moisture Retention

Moisture Retention

Bird of paradise plants love growing in moist environments, so the soil should be able to retain moisture without creating waterlogged conditions. Look for soil mixes that have a good balance between good drainage and moisture retention.

Consistent moisture availability promotes steady growth in bird of paradise plants. Fluctuations between wet and dry conditions can stress the plant, leading to potential issues like leaf yellowing and leaf curling.

This is another reason succulent soil mixes are unsuitable for bird of paradise plants. Aside from not having enough nutrients, they also don’t have components that help them retain enough moisture.

Pot Type

Pot Type

When choosing a soil mix for your bird of paradise plant, consider the pot you’re using. The material used in the pot and the number of drainages it has directly influence the quality of drainage, aeration, and moisture retention of the soil. 

If you’re using a pot with many drainage holes, the soil should have better moisture retention capacity as it might drain away faster. If it only has one drainage hole, focus more on adding materials that can improve the soil’s draining capacity.

Standard potting mixes can work for terracotta pots because air can penetrate through terracotta pots. Plastic pots are less breathable, so add more perlite or coarse sand to improve the soil’s porosity if you’re using them.

Soil Components for Bird of Paradise

Peat Moss

Peat moss is an organic material derived from decomposed sphagnum moss that’s mostly found in peat bogs. It’s a popular soil amendment that gardeners use to improve the soil’s moisture retention capacity.

It has a fibrous texture that helps prevent compaction and improve aeration in the soil. It’s also naturally acidic, perfect for bird of paradise plants that thrive in slightly acidic soil.

A good substitute for peat moss is coco coir if you can’t find peat moss near you or want a more eco-friendly option. Just note that coco coir tends to be a bit more expensive than peat moss.


Considered the “black gold” in gardening, compost can supply your bird of paradise plant with all the essential nutrients it needs to grow. It’s made of a mixture of decomposing organic materials, including kitchen scraps and yard waste.

You can just make compost in the comfort of your home to save money. Just mix three parts brown materials, like newspaper and cardboard, one part green materials, like kitchen scraps and grass trimmings, and water in a container.

Stir the compost mixture occasionally, and you should be able to get a good compost that you can use for your plants in a few weeks.


Perlite is a porous material used to enhance soil’s aeration and drainage capacity. It’s a lightweight volcanic glass that won’t add much weight to the soil, so it’s popular for potted plants that sometimes need to be moved.

It keeps the soil loose by creating air pockets where water and air can easily penetrate. This also ensures the roots have enough room to grow and access nutrients.

Perlite is sterile, so you won’t have to worry about weed suddenly growing in your pot. It has a neutral pH and doesn’t significantly alter the soil’s pH.

Pine Bark

Pine barks are organic materials derived from pine trees that are commonly used as soil amendments. They promote good drainage in the soil while also retaining a good amount of moisture for the plant.

Although it comes in different sizes, coarser grade pine barks are typically preferred for bird of paradise plants since they’re better for drainage and aeration. Their large particle size creates bigger air pockets, making them more suitable for keeping the soil loose.

Pine bark breaks down slowly, so it can be used until it’s time to repot your bird of paradise plant. As it decomposes, it can add more nutrients to the soil.

Coarse Sand

Coarse sand has a bigger particle size compared to fine and medium sand, about 0.50 mm to 2.0 mm. This makes it more suitable for soil mixes that prioritize drainage and aeration.

When coarse sand is incorporated into soils, it creates spaces where air can circulate through the soil. This ensures that the roots have a consistent supply of oxygen, preventing root suffocation.

Don’t use sand from sandboxes or beaches. Sand from sandboxes is very fine and can’t do much for your soil’s structure, while sand for beaches has too much salt, which can harm the plant’s development.


Limestone is a type of sedimentary rock that’s often used in soil mixes to neutralize acidic soils. The chemical reaction that happens when it comes in contact with acidic soil helps raise the soil’s pH.

While bird of paradise plants prefer a slightly acidic soil, an extremely acidic soil can be detrimental to the roots. Since many of the components used to make a soil mix for a bird of paradise plant are acidic, adding limestone can help prevent creating an overly acidic mix.

By adding limestone to the soil mix, you’re ensuring that the plant can uptake all the nutrients it needs, including calcium and magnesium, which are less available in highly acidic soil.

Soil Mix Recipes for Birds of Paradise

Soil Mix Recipes for Birds of Paradise

Recipe 1

  • 2 parts peat moss
  • 2 cups of coarse sand
  • 1 part perlite
  • 1 part compost
  • 2 tbsp. of limestone

A combination of peat moss, perlite, compost, coarse sand, and limestone creates a good growing medium for birds of paradise. Perlite and coarse sand helps create a well-draining and well-aerated growing medium.

Peat moss, on the other hand, provides good water retention for the plant, while compost supplies all the essential nutrients the plant needs. Both of these components may make the soil too acidic, so adding a bit of limestone can help neutralize the pH.

Recipe 2

  • 2 parts coco coir
  • 1 part compost
  • 1 part perlite
  • 1 part pine bark

This is another recipe you can follow for your bird of paradise plant. It has a good amount of compost to supply all the nutrient needs of the plant and perlite and bark fines to ensure the soil doesn’t become soggy.

The mix uses coco coir as a primary component responsible for moisture retention. Unlike peat moss, which is acidic, coco coir is pH neutral, so there’s no need for limestone to prevent the soil from becoming too acidic.

Signs That Bird of Paradise Is in the Wrong Soil

Wilting Leaves

Wilting leaves in bird of paradise plants can be caused by either too much or too little moisture in the soil. While it can be an effect of improper watering routines, it can be a result of using the wrong soil mix.

If the soil is too heavy or compacted, water will likely accumulate near the root zone and cause damage to the roots. This can cause root rot, which is one of the most common reasons leaves start wilting.

Conversely, if the soil doesn’t retain enough moisture, the roots can get stressed and become unable to uptake nutrients. If the plant is exposed to dry conditions for a long time, it will have to sacrifice some leaves, leading to a limp appearance.

Yellowing Leaves

Yellowing leaves in bird of paradise plants can be a sign of soil mix with poor drainage. Waterlogged soil caused by too much water and poor drainage can suffocate the roots and cause nutrient deficiencies, resulting in yellowing leaves.

An excessively moist soil can also lead to the growth of harmful pathogens that can cause various plant diseases. One of the most common is root rot, which targets the roots and hinders the plant’s ability to absorb nutrients, leading to yellow leaves.

Curling Leaves

If you notice some of the leaves of your bird of paradise plant curling, it’s probably not receiving enough water. This can either be because you’re underwatering it or the soil isn’t retaining enough moisture to support the plant’s growth.

The plant will curl its leaves to reduce the surface level exposed to the sun and reduce the rate of transpiration. This is the plant’s way of conserving the little water it gets from the soil.