How to save trees that have been through freezes? - Knowledgebase Question

Phoenix, Ar
Question by sarasschultz
February 27, 2011
Phoenix had a couple of freezes this winter, which is very unusual. Our jacarandas, brazilian pepper tree, oleanders and fruit trees (all planted within the last year or two) have gone brown. Is there anything we can do to save them? Please help! Thanks!

Answer from NGA
February 27, 2011


Believe it or not, the damage doesn't come from the temperatures dipping below freezing but duration of the frosty weather. Anything over 4 hours of below 32F will damage most of the plants that we grow in the Phoenix area. The good news is that the damage is usually to the leaves and upper branches but not the trunks of trees and not the roots of perennials. So, my advice is to wait another week or two before doing any pruning. The weather should warm up next week which will encourage your trees and shrubs to wake up and begin to grow. When you see leaf buds beginning to swell or new shoots appearing from the bases of the plants you'll know which parts are still alive and how far back you'll need to prune to remove the damage. If it's any comfort - my hibiscus, Mexican honeysuckle and Texas Yellow Bells all look toasted. I'm going to wait a week or so and then prune them back as far as necessary - to ground level if needed - to remove the frost damage. I know they will all recover but it will take 2-3 years before they grow as high and wide as they were last summer. Best wishes with your landscape!

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