Hardiness list and damage report

05/15/10  UpdateExtreme cold is not the only thing to worry about in winter!  Prolonged cold can slowly weaken plants as they lose vigor and here in Florida, winter is also accompanied with a lack of rain.  I have added updates in red, noting which plants succumbed to prolonged cold, winter drought or otherwise, as well as which plants have recovered by May.  Some plants could have been saved with additional protection, but since this is for experimental purposes (and I live 40 minutes away from the garden) I allowed the more tender and wimpier plants to die. With a little more tlc I feel that all of these plants could make it if you try hard enough.  If you have any questions don't be shy; that's what the comments are for!

Here it is, a comprehensive (translation: long winded) damage report of what countless nights in the low 20's with drying winds and frost will do to the rainforest garden. Temperate plants, including natives like hollies, live oak or wax myrtle are not included for obvious reasons.  I have not listed any bromeliads, because none were harmed despite having ice in their cups every night.  I am very excited with the results of this trial, since everything is alive for the most part, and the least damaged plants are those that will form the canopy and the backbone of the design.  There were some hardiness surprises, but what excites me most is the success of my south Florida natives such as Pond Apple, Red Mangrove, Leather Fern and Wild Lime.  May it also be noted that the very same Tillandsia Fasciculata that covers the branches in the everglades is also unharmed.  Maybe this year I can get my hands on a Strangler fig!  Hope this helps you guys!

The yard doesn't look great, but doesn't look devastated either.  When the canopy plants get larger and the understory plants like ginger fill in it will get a lot less damage.

 Now this part of the garden looks pretty bad. The firespike is toasted just like the black eyed susan vine that cloaked it with black and white flowers.  I'm afraid the tibouchina and firebush are fried as well, but these are all plants best treated as perennials in Northeast Florida anyways.  The areca palm and tabebuia look like they'll be okay, even though the palm's outer leaves got a bit of frostbite.  (Areca Palm is dead!  The next frost did it in, though other specimens closer to the river made it.  The Tabebuia has come back with a vengeance though and is doing better than ever by April)

 One of the prayer plants (maranta) that surprised me by surviving!  My secret is a light covering of pine straw.  (Died later of drought)

A majesty palm seedling that not only survived last winter, but seems to be hanging on through another season too!  My theory is that its proximity to the ground is protecting it. (died by late March, probably to a cold associated fungus)

 My philodendron "Burle Marx" is doing quite a bit better than expected, due to its protected location.  Chamaedorea Microspadix is in the foreground.  (Philodendron later died of drought... )

Acoelorraphe Wrightii (Paurotis Palm)  No damage  (In march all of the spears pulled out, which usually means death, however in May its made a full recovery!)
Bismarckia Nobilis (Bismarck Palm)  No damage yet, but will probably turn purple later, before putting out new leaves.  (Still alive in May, but it did get some cosmetic damage.)
Adonida Merrillii (Christmas Palm)   Last year when left outside it was burnt but recovered.  This year I left it in a container on the porch, with no damage at all.  I am shocked.  (Since it was in a container and my mom has Lupus it went too long without watering and died.)
Caryota Mitis (Clustering Fishtail Palm)  Foliage is bronzed.  The big clump off San Jose Blvd does this too but comes back.  (Actually did end up rotting.  I wonder if the San Jose Specimen is tougher due to its size.)
Chamaedorea Cataractum (Cat Palm)  Older leaves are mushy, newer leaves have no damage yet.  (Rotted to the ground but has since put out new suckers from the roots, which is unusual for a palm)
Chamaedorea Microspadix (Hardy Bamboo Palm)  No damage
Chamaedorea Radicalis (Radicalis Palm)  No damage
Dypsis Lutescens (Areca Palm)  Outer leaves bronzed, the ones beneath have no damage.  (Rotted in prolonged cold and an additional frost)
Phoenix Roebellinii (Pygmy Date Palm)  No damage. (A couple trunks died, but a few made it. I feel that this is the most overused tender palm in Florida and should be avoided in favor of other small palms such as the hardy Chamadoreas. Needle Palm, Lady Palm or Paurotis Palm)
Ravenea Rivularis (Majesty Palm seedling)  Only a little spotting, even though I thought it would be the first to go.  (Ended up rotting in the prolonged cold)

Passionflowers  (All have recovered)
Passiflora Edulis (Passionfruit)  Most exposed leaves melted, closer to ground, no damage.  I started it from seed in summer, so I hope it makes it.
Passiflora "Incense"  Wilted, will recover.
Passiflora Alatocaerulea  A little wilted at the tips

Gingers  (all have recovered)
Alpinia Formosana (Pinstripe Ginger)  Dried out at the edges, but healthy
Alpinia Nutans (False Cardamom) Outer leaves are dried out, but plant is healthy.
Alpinia Zerumbet (Variegated Shell Ginger)  Exposed leaves are damaged, inner leaves are fine
Hedychium Coronarium (White Butterfly Ginger)  Burned to ground, will return.

Alocasia "Calidora"  Whole clump has melted, but is pushing out new leaves.  (Has made a full recovery)
Alocasia Odora  Melted, still growing. (Back bigger than ever)
Colocasia (Chartreuse Elephant Ear)  Clump is burned to ground but under the palmettos its fine. (also doing great now)
Spathiphyllum (Peace Lily)  Most leaves melted, still pushing new growth.  (Larger variety died, but dwarf variety is doing great now.)
Epipremnium Aureum (Golden Pothos)  Burned where exposed  (Coming back from the roots.)
Epipremnium Aureum (Golden Pothos, Chartreuse)  No damage!
Philodendron "Burle Marx"  Some leaves wilted but new growth is looking fine.  (died from drought)
Philodendron Domesticum  Burnt to stem, should return.  (Dead)
Philodendron Selloum (Split Leaf Philodendron)  Looking good, other than oldest leaves.  (Looked great all winter and is doing wonderfully)
Philodendron "Xanadu"  Burnt to ground, may return.  (Dead, but neighbor's have recovered thanks to a sunnier and less soggy site)
Philodendron Hybrid, self heading  Burnt to trunk, I don't know if it will come back.  (Dead!  I know that if I protected it, it would have lived.  At least now I can record its true hardiness or lack thereof.)
Xanthosoma (Yautia, Elephant Ear)  Burnt to ground, will return.  (Back bigger than ever)

Acrostychum (Leather Fern)  Exposed fronds are dessicated, protected fronds and fiddleheads are okay. (Has recovered fully, but due to dry conditions it hasn't come back until our first heavy rain of the season)
Asplenium Nidus (Birds Nest Fern)  Bronzing a bit, but crown is fine.  (Ended up getting infested with ants, but I found a huge and cold hardy Japanese Birds Nest Fern to replace them with.)
Cyathea Australis (Australian Tree Fern)  Looking dried out but still green.  Newer growth in center is healthiest. (Started coming back but has been struggling in the lack of rain.)
Polypodium Aureum (Golden Polypody, "Blue Crisp")  Bronzed, rhizomes fine.  (These came back in a week or so!)

Trees, Shrubs, Large Perennials
Annona (Pond Apple)  seedling planted in summer, mulched with pine straw, looking good! (Died in drought)
Caesalpinia Pulcherrima (Dwarf Poinciana)  Seedling planted in summer, no damage. (dog ran over it)
Callistemon Citrinus (Lemon Bottlebrush)  No damage.
Callistemon Viminalis  No damage. (Got another frost and some cold winds, but came back and is now blooming in May)
Carica Papaya (Papaya)  leaves melty, trunk is fine.  (Trunk rotted)
Coccoloba Uvifera (Sea Grape)  Protected spot, looking good for now.  (died)
Coffea Arabica (Coffee)  Leaves bronzed.  I Don't expect it to live, but who knows. (died)
Ficus Decora (Rubber Ficus)  Small plant.  Some leaves damaged, some are not.  (Has returned from ground!)
Ficus Carica (Edible fig)  Leaves looking wimpy, but its fine.
Hamelia Patens (Firebush)  Whole thing is bronzed.  Should return from the roots.  (has returned)
Malvaviscus Arboreus (Sleepy Hibiscus)  Bronzed.  (returned from roots)
Musa Acuminata "Dwarf Cavendish" (Banana)  Burnt to trunk, will return.  (had knotty roots and probably died from nematodes, already weakened by the cold)
Musa "Rajapuri" (Banana)  Burnt to trunk, will return.  (also had nematodes)
Musa Zebrina "Rojo" (Red Banana)  Burnt to trunk, will return.  (nematodes)
Plumeria Rubra (Frangipani)  Stems are soft, trunk seems okay for now   (base of trunk rotted, and I also found knotted roots.)
Rhizopoda (Red Mangrove)  A cluster of seedlings plucked from the beach.  Outer leaves wilting, but mostly fine!  (died from drought)
Strelitzia Nicolai  (White Bird of Paradise)  Bronzed and crispy.  Did this last year but came back.  (came back)
Yellow Poinciana  Seedling started in summer.  Leaves look yellow, wood seems firm though.  (dog trampled)
Tabebuia Chrysantha (Yellow Tabebuia)  Leaves looking a little bronzed, not much.  (leaves dropped but has made a full recovery, looking great in May.  No blooms this year though)
Tibouchina (Princess Flower)  Whole six foot tall bush is crispy.  Usually returns around here.  (returned pretty quickly)
Yucca Elephantipes (Giant Yucca, Spineless Yucca)  No damage. 
(Wild Lime)  No damage.  (last frost knocked it to the trunk)

Smaller Perrenials
Agapanthus Africanus (Lily of the Nile)  Melty except for newest leaves. 
Canna Edulis (Indian shot)  This species canna that I started from seed in summer is bronzed.  Will return in spring. (returned quickly)
Crinum Asiaticum (Giant Crinum)  No damage!
Dietes Bicolor (African Iris)  No damage.
Maranta Leuconeura (Prayer Plant)  No damage!  I expected this one to die, but it looks fine.  (died of drought)
Pentas  Looking wilted, but in a protected spot.  (died of drought)


  1. I am amazed! And congrats in keeping them healthy. Many times I find ferns like prayer plants (Calatheas) are difficult plants. Their leaves tend to dry out either due to too much water, too little water or scorched by the sun.

    Is your Yellow Poinciana a dwarf version? Nonetheless, I am sure it is going to be a pretty plant later ;-) I like your collection of tropical and sub-tropical plants!

  2. RFG, thanks for this comprehensive list. I will be using this to assess any new purchases I make. I think we live in the same zone (9). I can't believe your pentas are just wilted, not fried. Mine were the first plants to go in my garden this year. The tips of my plumerias look bad...wish I had taken cuttings!!! My experience is that cold damage on plumerias spread and may consume the whole thing before all is said and done. (I've been growing them for a few years.) Last year, we had a severe freeze here. I thought mine were surely dead, and my sister thought she had lost hers. But they came back from the roots! Very pleasant surprise. And I swear I found the new growth the very day I went out to dig them up.

  3. Congratulations!
    Not many people are so systematic when writing
    about their plant collection.
    I have over 120 species for dry/heat/near the ocean collection with very low incidents
    of pests and or diseases.
    To Stephanie, the 'dwarf Poinciana" is a Caesalpinia pulcherrima, there are 3 varities
    down here. They grow fast in my opnion, from
    seeds. It would certainly do well down there.

  4. You do have a rich variety of plants here and I just love the rainforest here.

  5. Thanks guys! It doesn't look a whole lot like a rainforest lets say in... Malaysia, right now but that's the challenge, right? After a couple nights of frost there's been more damage but the only thing that i expect to die is the coffee. Your blogs are all very inspiring and your comments are much appreciated. Thanks again!


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