will bird of paradise freeze

When I first moved to southern California from Montana to attend university, I was amazed by the diverse array of stunning plants: the pink sprays of bougainvillea, the purple flush of jacaranda trees, the orange-tufted, sharp-beaked birds of paradise.

It’s uncanny how much this flower resembles a tropical bird, isn’t it? Also known as crane flower, bird of paradise (Strelitzia spp.) belongs to the Strelitziaceae family, of which Madagascar’s theatrical traveler’s palm (Ravenala madagascariensis) is also a part.

This family loves drama, and it’s fantastic if you’re looking for stunning ornamentals to add to the garden.

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Bird of paradise is an evergreen tropical plant native to South Africa, but it’s grown in warm locales around the world. There are five species in this genus, and all may be referred to by the same common name.

All members thrive in USDA Hardiness Zones 10-12, and sometimes Zone 9 – with ample protection.

If you’re lucky enough to be growing one of these beauties in your yard or garden, you might be wondering how to best care for it during the winter.

These plants can suffer if temperatures dip below freezing in the winter. Read on to find out how to overwinter your bird of paradise if you live in Zone 9, or are daring to grow the gorgeous birdlike blooms in Zone 8.

And if you’re looking for basic tips to get started, you can begin with our growing guide.

What Happens to Bird of Paradise Plants in Cold Weather?

The very lowest temperature that Strelitzia plants can handle is 24°F for just a short amount of time, according to Sydney Park Brown and Robert J. Black of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) Extension.

However, that doesn’t mean they won’t suffer a penalty for enduring such a sharp drop in temperature. Any temperature below 32°F can injure flowers and developing buds.

Here are some tips for keeping your plant warm throughout the winter.

Plant It in a Container

Consider planting your bird of paradise in a container as soon as you bring it home from the nursery if you reside in Zones 8 or 9. If your plant is in a pot, you can easily bring it inside when the local forecast calls for a freeze.

This generally works only for the smaller S. reginae. A very large container would be needed to hold the tree-like S. alba or S. nicolai.

S. Remember that reginae can reach heights of six feet and widths of three feet when choosing a container. You can repot your plant every spring as it grows if it is still young and small.

For a smaller plant, try to find a pot that is at least 12 inches wide and deep; for a larger plant, look for one that is at least 34 inches deep and wide. Make sure the pot has a hole or holes in the bottom for proper drainage.

Put one part perlite and two parts potting soil into the container. Gently squeeze the nursery pot to allow the plant’s edges to sag. Taking hold of the stem, carefully remove the plant and drop it into the pot that is ready.

To loosen the roots, brush some dirt away from the root ball. Break apart the roots like tubers so that they spread out across the ground. After that, cover everything and give it a thorough watering so that the water runs out of the pot’s bottom.

Keep it near your brightest windowsill, and when the weather permits, move it outside again. When grown outside, the plant is more likely to produce an eye-catching abundance of flowers.

Bird of Paradise Plant Freeze Damage

The first symptoms will be seen in the leaves. The ends become tattered and brownish yellow. These will eventually wither away and can be cut off from the plant. Extremely serious symptoms of freeze damage to bird of paradise include brown to black stems, general limpness in the leaves and stems, and soft spots in the trunk. This is a symptom of nearly fatal injury. For such compromised plants, the only course of action is to provide them with good care and watch to see if they recover. Lightly damaged plants should have their stems clipped to the point where they emerge from the main trunk. When removing damaged leaves, take care not to cut into the trunk. With proper care, the plant should start to unfold new leaves and begin its healing process in a few seasons.

FAQ

How cold can a Bird of Paradise tolerate?

What Is the Lowest Temperature a Bird of Paradise Tolerates? Bird of Paradise plants can tolerate temperatures as low as 24°F (-40C).

Will a Bird of Paradise come back after a freeze?

Very serious signs of bird of paradise freeze damage will show brown to black stems, overall limpness in the stems and leaves, and soft spots in the trunk. This is a symptom of nearly fatal injury. The only thing to do for such compromised plants is to give them good care and wait to see if they recover.

Should I cover my Bird of Paradise in the winter?

Protecting plants with mulches Cannas, agapanthus, gingers, calla lilies, elephant ears, bird-of-paradise, crinums, hymenocallis, clivia and amaryllis fall into this category. You can ensure the survival of these below-ground parts by placing several inches of mulch over the soil around the plants.

Can Bird of Paradise be left outside?

Related to banana plant, bird of paradise is most commonly grown outdoors in frost-free regions, but can also be grown as an indoor houseplant and brought outside during warmer months. Bird of paradise is unlikely to bloom if it’s kept indoors year-round, but the bold foliage is attractive on its own.