Question of the Week #1: January 19, 2017
“Neil, my waxleaf ligustrums and live oaks look like they’re dying – dropping all of their leaves. What can I do?”
These are two different manifestations of cold damage from two and five weeks ago.
If you look really closely you’ll see that the waxleaf ligustrums look like they’re been pressed into a waffle iron. It’s an unusual look that is different from what most plants show when subjected to extremely cold weather.
You’ll know in another week or two if the plants are alive or not. If the twigs remain supple you have hope. If they’re becoming dried and crisp, that portion is gone. Trim it out until you find yourself trimming healthy wood.
It’s been my experience with waxleafs that if they’re frozen badly, they typically do not grow back from their root systems.
I would guess that this damage is confined to the northern half of the state.
As for the live oaks, they’re doing their annual early March leaf drop as they make room for new leaves in the spring. It’s just that they’re doing so in mid-January – more than a month earlier than usual.
Based on what I’ve seen this year and in prior cold winters, I would guess that the live oaks will be just fine. I see this premature leaf drop every few years, and I’ve yet to see the cold do any permanent damage – at least not in most of the state.