Can bird of paradise survive frost?

Bird of paradise will survive frost conditions if they are set up in the right way. The leaves can suffer damage from heavy or multiple frosts. Damaged leaves can be trimmed off once the frost has passed and the plant will replace them with new healthy leaves in Spring and Summer.

Prevent frost damage by planting them in a protected position, mulch them well and plant them in improved soil.

Bird of paradise plants can tolerate cold weather down to 24 degrees Fahrenheit (-4 degrees Celsius) but prefer to avoid the coldest winter weather and frosts if possible.

Bird of paradise is a tropical plant but will thrive in the tropical and subtropical regions of the USA and Australia. This article will explore what frost damage on bird of paradise looks like, how to fix it and how to prevent it in the first place.

Identifying frost damage on bird of paradise

Bird of paradise plants will suffer leaf or flower damage with heavier or extended frosts. You can identify frost damage by looking for browning areas on the tips or edges of the leaves. This will happen overnight rather than occurring gradually over time. The tips can become weak and tear in windy weather.

Bird of paradise plants that suffer from severe frost damage can develop blackened leaves and stems. The damaged stems can bend and break lower down. This could happen in one night of frost but is more likely to occur if there are multiple nights and mornings of frost cover in a row. 

Black & brown marks lower down as the stem can extend further over the next few days as the leaf and stem starts to die. This dying leaf can be removed once the risk of frost is over.

What to do if your bird of paradise is damaged by frost

There are a few easy steps to follow if your bird of paradise is damaged by frost. Try these easy steps to keeping your bird of paradise healthy over winter and survive frost.

Wait until all risk of frost is over – Frosts can happen multiple times in one week

Once the weather forecast has flipped and you no longer see frosts in the short term forecast. Trim off damaged leaves right down to the joint where it connects to the healthy center stem.

Leaving damaged leaves on in the short term will protect the plant but make sure to trim them off before they become diseased.

Prune the stem down to the next healthy connection – on an angle with sharp secateurs

Bird of paradise plants will recover when the weather warms up in spring or summer once the frost damaged stems are removed. Depending on how badly the plant was damaged, it can take a few months for the plant to replace all of the damaged leaves.

Removing the damaged leaves will allow more light to reach the healthy leaves and allow the plant to recover.

How to prevent frost damage in bird of paradise

The best way to keep your bird of paradise plant healthy and free from frost damage is through prevention. Here are some easy steps to follow to prevent frost damage on bird of paradise.

Plant them in a protected position

Start by planting the bird of paradise in a protected position if you live in an area that gets winter or early spring frosts.

Planting or placing a potted bird of paradise in an area that gets bright sunlight, near a wall or screen. Potted plants can be moved over the winter months to a protected position and then moved back out when the weather warms.

My potted bird of paradise plants have been placed near a wall and garden screens to protect them from the few frosts that come in the cool weather of winter.

This has worked to protect them from the two or three frosts we have experienced this year and they did not suffer from leaf or stem damage.

Protecting bird of paradise leaves

Plants can be protected from frosts that have been predicted in nighttime weather forecasts by covering the plant overnight with shade cloth. This will prevent the frost from landing on the leaves directly and protect them.

Remember to remove the shade cloth once the weather warms in the morning to allow the bright sunlight to reach the leaves.

Protecting bird of paradise flowers

Bird of paradise flowers can be protected from frosts in the same way as the leaves by using shade cloth draped over the top. Flowers can often stick up higher than the leaves and therefore can be more affected by frost.

The flowers also have a delicate center which is easily affected by frost landing on the flower.

Protecting the roots

Protecting the roots of the bird of paradise is easily achieved with a 3 inch layer of bark or tree mulch. Top up the mulch layer in Spring and Fall to insulate the plant roots and prevent frost from sitting on the top of the soil.

Improve the soil

Planting bird of paradise plants in good quality soil will help the plant to become more naturally resistant to frost damage. Mix compost through the soil and top dress with aged cow manure and more compost in Spring.

This will gradually feed the plant, improve the soil structure which will help the plant to grow a healthy strong root system to support the plant.

Can bird of paradise survive frost? | Summary

Bird of paradise plants prefer hot tropical climates as they originally come from South Africa. They can survive frost but it can cause some leaf damage. Place potted bird of paradise plants near garden walls or screens to protect them from winter frost covering.

For bird of paradise out in open garden beds, drape some shade cloth over the top to stop frost from landing directly on the leaves. Trim off any frost damaged leaves and your plant will bounce back in Spring.