Issue: November 20, 2004

Can I leave a ficus outside in winter? | Pecan shucks don't open

Can I leave a ficus outside in winter?


Can a ficus tree be left outdoors year round in our area, or is it a plant that needs to be brought in the house during the frost/freezing weather?


Since you wrote "ficus" rather than "fig", I will assume you mean the tropical, ornamental ficus rather than the edible fig. (Ficus is the genus for the fig plant.)

A tropical ficus (not the fruiting fig) will freeze if left outdoors in all of New Mexico. The fig trees that make edible figs are hardy from southern New Mexico to around Albuquerque. Since you are asking about the tropical ficus, I recommend that you take it inside during freezing weather. It can be taken outdoors to a well-lighted location (not full sunlight) during warm days. The tropical ficus are often so sensitive to low temperatures that prolonged (several hours) temperatures above freezing but below 40 degrees can cause injury.

When the tree is indoors, keep it in a brightly lighted room with temperatures ranging from 80 degrees during the day to about 60 degrees at night. Brief periods of slightly higher or lower temperatures will not cause a problem. Grouping other plants around it will help maintain higher humidity that will benefit all the houseplants. You can water as often as needed to keep the soil from drying completely. Each time you water the tree, give the tree enough water so that water comes out the holes in the pot. Drain any water that collects in containers below the tree so that none of the drain water is reabsorbed.

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Pecan shucks don't open


We have a pecan tree that produces a plentiful crop, yet the shucks stay green. Some do blacken, but all the nuts on the ground (black or green shucks) are stuck tight. We have squirrels that come each fall to harvest pecans. Could it be the nuts are being shaken loose too soon by the squirrels? However, it is the middle of November. What causes the stuck shucks?


The problem with pecan shucks not opening could be nutritional or due to disease. You should contact your local County Extension Office to determine if there are soil nutrition problems in your area or if this is due to a disease.

As you suggest, it could be because your growing season is not long enough. Some varieties of pecans will mature their nuts if you don't have frost from May until mid-October.

Another potential cause is insufficient irrigation in late summer. This is a very likely cause of your problem. In each case, your local County Extension Agent can be helpful in determining the exact cause and proper treatment.

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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!