We get many inquiries regarding growing tropical plants in gardens which are prone to frost. It certainly is possible to grow tropical plants, or tropical-looking plants, in frost prone areas, as proven by many stunning tropical gardens.
Not only are there tropical plants which can actually handle frost, including some palms which can handle temperatures of up to -10 degrees, but there are many things you can do to increase the overall temperature in your garden by creating a 'micro-climate', or to increase the temperature in one spot, around a plant which needs it.
Green-, or glass houses, are a great way of growing tropicals in the cold as it keeps humidity high and frost out. Christmas lights can be wrapped around shrubs and trees to increase the air temperature, and brick pavements and walls are known to absorb heat in the sun, and release it when it gets cool, benefitting the plants around it.
Frost often settles from above, so a shade roof can be a great help to keep frost off your plants. Mulch will help keep the ground insulated and warm.
Below are some examples of tropical plants that can handle frost or cold.
Frost Hardy Plants
- Arenga engleri (Dwarf Sugar Palm) -10
- Butia capitata (Wine Palm / Jelly Palm) -10
- Phoenix canariensis (Canary Island Date Palm) -10
- Sabal minor (Dwarf Palmetto) -10
- Washingtonia robusta (Mexican Fan Palm) -5
- Cycas revoluta (Sago Palm) -5
- Zamia furfuracea (Cardboard Palm) -2
Foliage & flowering plants:
- Bauhinia variegata (Purple Orchid Tree) -5
- Doryanthes excelsa (Gymea Lily) -5
- Dracaena draco (Dragon’s Blood Tree) -10
- Myrciaria cauliflora (Jaboticaba) - 3
- Quisqualis indica (Rangoon Creeper) -1
- Xanthorrhoea johnsonii (Grass Tree) -4
- Agave bracteosa (Squid Agave) -9
- Agave filifera (Thread Agave) - 9
- Agave parryi (Parry’s Agave) -9
- Agave victoria-reginae (Queen’s Agave) -9
- Yucca’s aprox -4
Cold Hardy Plants
- Beccariophoenix madagascariensis (Window Pane Palm) 0ºC
- Caryota mitis (Clustering Fishtail Palm) 0ºC
- Chambeyronia macrocarpa (Flamethrower Palm + Blonde Flamethrower Palm) 0ºC
- Dypsis decaryi (Triangle Palm) 0ºC
- Dypsis fakey (Fakey Palm) 0ºC
- Dypsis leptocheilos (Red Neck Palm / Teddybear Palm) 0ºC
- Dypsis lutescens (Golden Cane) 0ºC
- Dypsis Pink Crown (Pink Crown Palm) 0ºC
- Hyophorbe lagenicaulis (Bottle Palm) 0ºC
- Hyophorbe verschaffeltii (Spindle Palm) 0ºC
- Phoenix roebelenii (Dwarf Date Palm) 0ºC
- Lampranthus (Ice Plant) (0ºC - best protected if for a long period of time)
- Markhamia lutea (Yellow Nile Tulip Tree) 0ºC
- Pandorea Lady Di (White Bower Vine) 0ºC
- Randia fitzalanii (Native Gardenia / Yellow Mangosteen) 0ºC