The Q&A Archives: California freeze

Questioner's Location: Castaic, CA
Date: February 4, 2007

Question: I have four 30 ft tall podocarpus trees that are showing significantly brown leaves after the freeze/snow that we had in January. The leaves are dropping but what remains on the trees look browner each day. Is a deep pruning advised once the threat of frost is over?

Answer: Podocarpus usually bounces right back after a freeze so I'd wait to see how they respond when the weather warms up. You can direct a strong stream of water at the remaining leaves to knock them down if their appearance bothers you but it's usually better to wait and allow them to fall off naturally. There are latent buds just below the stems of the current leaves; the trees should develop new leaves at those points (as long as the branches are not dead). You won't know until new growth begins in the spring just how far back on the branches the winter kill might be. So, wait and watch before you decide to do any pruning. When you know for sure a branch is dead, go ahead and prune it off.

Best wishes with your landscape!

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