Skip navigation.
New Mexico State University

Issue: March 5

Many broad-leaf evergreens were injured by this very cold winter, wait to see if they will regrow

Q. You have helped me several times in the past. I need help again! We live in Alamogordo, and our wax leaf ligustrum leaves have turned a brown color, probably from the terrible cold we all experienced. Is it likely to be dead, or do you recommend trimming it back and wait to see whether it is still alive at the core and roots? It is about 5' tall. We moved it about 3 yrs ago and I fussed over it after the move, as we had to cut part of the tap root off. This is a tough plant with a desire to survive, I think.

Barb R.

A. Ligustrum japonicum, the wax leaf ligustrum, is one of many broad-leaf evergreen plants that suffered damage this winter. Wax leaf ligustrum is listed as hardy in USDA hardiness zone 8 and warmer. You live in zone 8, but this year the temperature probably dropped below the expected 10 degrees F. Your ligustrum probably survived, but some of the twigs and branches may have been killed by the cold. If the shrub needs pruning, you can trim it back now. However, since you may not be able to easily determine which branches were damaged, you can also wait until new leaves begin to form and prune out branches that do not exhibit new healthy growth. There is a chance that your wax leaf ligustrum, and those of other gardeners were killed. If these shrubs were planted on the north side of a house where it was colder and remained colder longer, the temperatures may have been fatal. Even if these plants were not killed, the branches may have been killed further down the plant and will probably begin growth later than usual. Other broad-leaf evergreen shrubs have been damaged in New Mexico this year. Photinia shrubs, which are rarely damaged by cold winters, except this year, are also exhibiting brown leaves. The advice to wait before cutting them down is relevant for them as well. This spring, the virtue of patience will be more valuable than usual.

For more gardening information, visit the NMSU Extension publications World Wide Web site at

Send your gardening questions to:

Yard and Garden, Attn: Dr. Curtis Smith
NMSU Agricultural Science Center
1036 Miller Rd. SW
Los Lunas, NM 87031

Curtis W. Smith, Ph.D., is an Extension Horticulture Specialist with New Mexico State University’s Cooperative Extension Service. NMSU and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating.