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Why has my white bird of paradise started to turn slightly to the right, and the trunk appears rounder (and more compact) than before. Is this normal maturation or is this a sign of root rot?

Without seeing pictures of exactly what you are trying to describe, and a time frame of this change, I’m in the dark as to what might cause this. In some cases, the trunk and the internodes (spaces between the leaves) can change due to brighter light and more favorable growing conditions, such as more fertilizer, warmer temperatures and so on.

If you’re worried about root rot, the top growth of the plant will indicate a problem fairly quickly. The leaves will dry out, shrivel, turn brown and probably fall off, oldest leaves first in most cases. However, depending on the type of root rot that is causing the problem, younger growth can be affected first.

Making sure your plant has good drainage in the soil, and the container, as well as the correct type of soil that doesn’t hold too much moisture, and avoiding over fertilizing to the point of root burn will go a long way to making your plant happy.

Sorry I can’t be more specific, without more information about your conditions, the situation of where your plant is planted (in a container? In ground? Type of soil?) and so on.

Hope this helps,