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House Plants/Frozen ficus tree


I stupidly left my house in the mountains with heat in the bathrooms and laundry room, forgetting all about my house plants.  This is a large ficus I have had for 8 years, I left for two nights temperatures below zero.  When I came home it was crispy and brownish.  I have had it warm ever since, looking everyday for new growth. It's been about a month and I haven't seen any.  A lot of the stems are pliable, it still looks green under the bark at the bottom. I keep thinking I should trim it but don't want to cause any more shock.  Any hope?

Hi Nancy,

Don't be too hard on yourself. Ficus trees are hardier than many houseplants. The fact that many of the stems are still pliable is a good sign. What matters most is the condition of the roots and they were insulated somewhat by the pot and soil.

Pruning will not cause any shock to your tree. I do suggest that you remove all stems and branches that are dry and brittle. Then go ahead and prune back the remaining branches to get it to the overall shape you want the tree to be. Remember that the new growth will come in at the ends of the stems and branches and grow out from there. In order to get new growth in the center of the tree, you will have to prune some of the pliable branches back in toward the center.

Other than keeping it warm and cutting back on the watering and stopping all fertilizing, all you can do is be patient. As long as some branches remain pliable there is hope for recovery.

Good luck!

I have written articles on cold damage, pruning and on Ficus care that I will email for free to you (or anyone else) who emails a request to me at

Please let me know if any of this is unclear or if you have any additional questions.

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Will Creed


I am the only expert in this category with professional hands-on experience and knowledge of all indoor plants. I can answer questions regarding light, water, fertilizer, repotting, pruning and humidity and temperature requirements. I can identify plant pests and provide information on safe, effective treatments. My answers are based on 35 years of professional experience and scientific research and are clear and easy to understand. I do NOT use search engines to find answers to your questions. If you read my previous posts here, you will get a good idea as to how thorough and professional my answers are.


I have over 35 years of professional indoor landscaping experience caring for plants in homes, offices, building lobbies, stores, restaurants, and other adverse environments. I have written extensively on the care of indoor plants, including a 260 page book. My specialties include Ficus trees, low light plants, repotting, pest control, and re-blooming holiday plants. Be sure to check my ratings and nominations to learn why I am the top-rated indoor plant expert. I am the only House Plant expert consistently ranked in the AllExperts Top 20.

BA, Amherst College

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