Will my Ficus make it after frost damage?

Pauly_in_AZFebruary 4, 2011

Well, the frost of 2011 will go down in history as one of the worst here in Arizona. There were 3 days of frost on the first of the year 2011, but that didnt have much effect on my Ficus tree, just the tops and one of the outlying branches got killed. But the frost last night, the night of Feb. 3, 2011, the Ficus really got walloped. Im sooooo sad, heartbroken. I have only had the Ficus one year, and now all the outer leaves are brown, killed by the frost, and while the inside looks green, I really have no idea how extensive the damage is. Can anyone help me decide what to do? They are young enough that I could maybe replace them with a more frost-tolerant tree, though I wouldnt know which one at this point can grow as fast, be evergreen leafy shade tree, and yet be frost tolerant. Every neighbor with Ficus in their lawns in this South Scottsdale neighborhood ALL have their Ficus looking sickly, beat up by the frost. Dont know what to do, dont know how deep the damage could be, or its effects on the tree long-term. I dont want to have a sick tree, it is not like a Lantana that will just spring back up after a frost, right? Ficus takes this pretty hard, I think. Did I make a wise choice planting a Ficus tree in Arizona?

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Ficus freeze back, then sprouts start coming out all over the tree, leading to a very bushy and weak tree with hundreds of shrubby branches.

They aren't reliable in Phoenix because of our occasional killing frosts.

For a replacement, consider the Arizona ash (Shamel Ash) or mesquite (semi-evergreen).

    Bookmark   February 7, 2011 at 9:48AM
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I think Sissoo would also be a good choice. It is still frost tender, but certainly more frost tolerant than a ficus. I still love ficus trees though. I have this theory though that there are different varieties even though most of them look very much alike, I think there are strains that might be slightly more frost tolerant because I've seen some ficus trees in the valley get really damaged in this last freeze, but some of them look like they had almost no damage at all. And I'm not talking about the older ones. I've seen some younger ones that did ok too... .without protection.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2011 at 11:00AM
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You know greendesert, you are right. I drove down Mill Ave. this weekend, down by the Tempe townlake you know, where its all lined with tall established Ficus trees, even some younger ones. And I have to tell you I cant understand for the life of me why they haven't a SINGLE brown leaf. They certainly look like Ficus, maybe they're very similar but boy I dont think so. There's even another post in this forum about Ficuses and they are mentioned or pictured there. Anyhow, why cant we get that variety of Ficus, whatever it is. I wonder who would know, those look planted by someone that knows trees.

Anyhow, for a replacement, I am thinking of going with a Tipu (Tipuana Tipu). They look nice when they're big. I saw an 8-year nice-looking huge tree at one of the nurseries out there by Gilbert and McKellips Rd. Not for sale, of course, it was planted in the ground. But boy it was nice and tall, lots of shade and a very unique look. I think I am sold on getting a Tipu to replace the Ficus. Another nursery told me that the Shamel Ash gets its leafs burnt in the summer, so it takes the summer kind of hard here, one reason why the Tipu might be a better choice.

I think I am going to try to move the Ficus to the backyard and hope it survives. As lazygardens said in anotehr posting above, a shrubby and weak tree wont work as the main shade front-yard tree. If the freeze has effectively "stunted" the Ficus growth potential at this point (it's about 3 yrs old I would say), it wont be able to shade my house as large as I wanted it to. If anyone knows any better I appreciate any pointers on what to do with this dilemma: stay Ficus, or replace with Tipu or other? Thanks.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2011 at 11:30PM
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I have a Ficus that was about 15 feet tall that got totally hit by the big freeze a few years ago. Everything but the lower trunk was dead, so I cut it down to about 4 feet and cut off all the dead branches. It sprouted like mad all over the stump so I removed all but a few and now have it back to 15 feet with three main branches.

I did notice that after I cut it, wood that was green under the back before died back. so maybe you have to leave more that you think you do. I don't know how that

This freeze was not as bad as there is some green left at the bottom and on the inside. Will have to see what happens. Kind of a mess now.


    Bookmark   February 11, 2011 at 2:16PM
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I love my Ficus here in Tempe. Even though it was hit pretty hard by the frost, if there are green leaves in the center of yours, I think it should come back and be beautiful again. I only put one lamp under mine, but next time it gets that cold, I'm going to put 2 or 3 lamps with 100 watt bulbs under the tree all night.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2011 at 3:44AM
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