The Q&A Archives: Trimming Frost Damaged Ficus

Question: My 2 ficus trees are like most other ficus trees in the Phoenix Area right now. They both have new growth on the trunks of the trees but I can not see any new growth on in the branches. Any advice on trimming?

Answer: That's a difficult call, since some may have suffered more than others, depending upon location, although they all took a hit of some sort. I examined several ficus in my neighborhood today, and tiny buds were just barely showing on the trunks and some inner branches, but not all. I'd recommend waiting a little longer to see if more sprouting occurs so you don't cut back more than needed. You can also scratch the bark tissue with your fingernail. If it is green just beneath, there's still life. I've seen some ficus that have been severely topped to remove all the branches, but that invites sunburn to the bark tissue, and trees will likely struggle this summer. The dead branches, although unsightly, do provide a small measure of protection. Good luck!

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