I get this question all the time at our retail gardening store. "Why do my lantana and red bird of paradise plants die during the winter months"?
The Lantana and Red bird of paradise have spectacular colorful looking blooms throughout the early summer and late fall months. However they do not like temperatures below 28 degrees fahrenheit.
In the desert southwest we will experience temps down to about 20 degrees or so and sometimes into the upper teens.
The best advice is to cut them back anytime between January and March. Be sure to cut them down close to the ground. Especially younger smaller plants. It is best to keep the crown covered with mulch until night time temps are above 50 degrees f.
Larger more established Red bird of paradise plants do not need to be trimmed to the ground. Just trim about 1/4 from the top.
Once the weather warms up significantly you may remove the mulch around them so that the sun can heat up the soil around the roots.
Be patient, and look for small green buds to begin emerging. Once this happens and the weather stays warm both the lantana and bird of paradise will begin to grow at a tremendous rate of speed!
You may the feed them lightly with your choice of fertilizer. In most cases they will exceed the previous years' growth, as they already have an extensive root system. Remember lots of heat and patience in early spring will be rewarded with lots of color all summer long.
The Lantana is also commonly called a Shrub Verbena. All Lantanas are tough, resilient plants that thrive in hot weather and bloom profusely from spring until frost.
Follow the same instructions as the Red Bird of Paradise. Trim down in early December or January and cover with ample supply of mulch. Be patient...they will sprout out when the night time temperatures are consistently about 50 degrees f.
Gary and Paul Guzman are the authors of this garden post.