Issue: March 22, 1999

Cold weather after pruning roses


I pruned my roses last week, and now it is snowing and cold again. Will that hurt my roses? Did I prune too early?


We recommend waiting until only a month or less before the expected last frost to prune roses in New Mexico because of what you have described. In your case you should be okay. If you had pruned a month ago, the warm weather we experienced in the past few weeks would have stimulated growth of the buds to which you pruned, and this current cold weather would very likely have done some damage. Because you waited, you should have very little about which to worry. You pruned about as early as we would recommend but, because you have just pruned the roses, the buds to which you have pruned your roses are still dormant. You probably removed many new leaves as you pruned, but that didn't harm the plants. Those new leaves may have been harmed by this cold weather, but you have removed them so there is no concern.

In a few weeks the buds to which you pruned the roses should start growing. At that time the new growth is subject to freeze injury, but by then there is much less chance that we will have damaging weather. That is not to say it can't happen but that it is much less likely.

Sunburned houseplant


I took my Ficus outside the other day when it was warm hoping that the sunlight would be helpful after a long winter indoors in a fairly dark room. However, many of the leaves turned white and others are turning brown and falling off. What happened?


It sounds like your Ficus got sunburned. If you suddenly move a plant from a dark location to full sunlight, it will be injured. The leaves have adapted to the low light conditions and are no longer able to withstand the sunlight. A Ficus does not need full sunlight anyway. It does well in bright shade. In such a location the light is bright, but it does not experience the full intensity of the sunlight.

It is possible to gradually acclimate a plant which has been grown in a dark location to brighter light, even to full sunlight. This should be done gradually and by slowly exposing the plant to brighter conditions.

Your plant will probably survive. It will loose many leaves, but if it is not allowed to dry out or is not over-watered, it should grow new leaves in a few weeks. Allow these leaves to develop in a fairly bright location but not in full sunlight.

As the Ficus plant drops many of its leaves, reduce the water you supply to the soil. With fewer leaves, it will need less water and it is easy to over water causing the development of root rot. Let the upper one-fourth to one third of the soil in the pot dry before irrigating. Be sure that the water moistens the soil through the pot and doesnít run around the sides of the soil when you do water. As growth begins, you may also begin providing a little diluted fertilizer in every third or fourth watering. Do not over fertilize a plant which has been stressed.

Marisa Y. Thompson, PhD, is the Extension Horticulture Specialist, in the Department of Extension Plant Sciences at the New Mexico State University Los Lunas Agricultural Science Center, email:, office: 505-865-7340, ext. 113.


For more gardening information, visit the NMSU Extension Horticulture page at Desert Blooms and the NMSU Horticulture Publications page.

Send gardening questions to Southwest Yard and Garden - Attn: Dr. Marisa Thompson at, or at the Desert Blooms Facebook.

Please copy your County Extension Agent and indicate your county of residence when you submit your question!