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Ficus Plant – Cold Damage

Question:

How should we treat a Ficus  plant that was exposed to freezing temps for couple nights! It is in a pot that was on covered porch on west side of house in South Louisiana.

Answer:

The recent cold wave has brought me lots of inquiries similar to yours. First, make sure your Ficus tree is now in a warm location and stays there. The leaves are the most vulnerable part of any plant. They will discolor and fall off and there is nothing you can do about that.

Your tree’s future depends on the condition of the roots. Unlike the foliage, the roots are somewhat protected from the cold by the insulating effect of the pot and soil, so they may not be too badly damaged. If so, you should see signs of healthy new shoots emerging within a few weeks. This will require patience, but not much else. There are no “cures” for cold damage.

Your tree will use a bit less water than it did before, so be careful not to over-water. Provide as much direct sun light as possible. Do NOT repot or otherwise disturb the roots. Fertilize is intended for healthy, vigorously growing plants, so it will not help.

You may want to prune back long stems that have lost most of their leaves. New leaf growth always occurs at the tip ends of the stems and branches. Pruning will help keep the tree full and compact.