The Simple Steps for Pruning Fig Trees

Pruning fig trees are such important maintenance for the plant. Some damaged and diseased limbs need to be eliminated.

It is the basic method gardeners apply to other plantings. For fig trees, there are some specific steps you need to follow during the first years of growth.

This article provides much useful information about fig trees and how to prune them properly in some conditions.


Understanding Fig Trees

Fig trees have no blossoms on their branches. The blossom is inside of the fruit! Many tiny flowers produce the crunchy little edible seeds that give figs their unique texture.
Fig Tree

The most common one you can find is named Ficus Carica. It comes from the Moraceae family which is a deciduous shrub.

It is related to the mulberry tree.

The origin of this plant is in southeastern Europe and western Asia. However, in North America, this variety became an invasive plant.

So, there will be different treatments for different areas. Fig Trees can grow about ten to twelve feet high.

The width will be about 10 to 20 in max. If you need a plant with spreading habit, this is a good choice.

It will also make great ornamental plants for a tropical look in your patio decoration. Therefore, the fig trees with their attractive features will support that.

Moreover, the bark can become aesthetic when it’s got gnarled.

Meanwhile, the hand-like leaves come with a dark green surface. They can reach about 10 inches long in size.

How about the flowers? even though it is not so pretty, you will experience it during the spring season.

Fig Trees can be two fruit crops per year. You can add this plant to your vegetable or fruit garden.

How To Grow Fig Trees

Figs prefer organically rich soil that is consistently moist and well-drained. The best option for container growing is a quality soilless potting mix. Potting mixes are specifically made for growing potted plants, are lightweight, retain moisture and supply plenty of air space around the roots.
Fig Tree in Pot

Before pruning fig trees, it is necessary to know how to grow. While outdoors, sunlight exposure is its best friend.

Likewise, this tree needs full direct sun to properly ripen. However, you should protect the plant in warmer climates.

Besides, the afternoon sun would not be so good for the trees.

It will not be an issue for mature plants with large leaves. The younger trees will get a bad impact from the very hot sun.

The ideal soil condition is the light fertile sandy loam. That is not necessary since fig trees can adapt to most soil unless it is a waterlogged situation.

Moisture stability is very important for this type of tree. Do not over watering when you witness the fruit growing.

Hence, this is to avoid making it split.

Otherwise, if the watering is not enough, the foliage will be yellowing and fall. Also, the amount of fruit will be decreasing.

Therefore, giving adequate water will be very essential.

With or without additional feeding, fig trees will be okay. If you grow it on the ground, check branches in the last seasons.

When you see they grow less than 20cm, fertilizer is needed. If you grow it in pots, apply the fertilizer annually.

Caring and Harvesting

Keep the tree in full sun in the summer. Be sure to add a high-nitrogen fertilizer every 4 weeks in the spring and summer and water the tree moderately.
Caring Fig Tree

For newly planted fig trees, you need to provide some shade. Do this until they are well established. Make sure to keep the plants well mulched as the plants’ surface rooting.

Many varieties of fig will give you two crops annually. Instead of early summer, they will also appear during early fall.

You can pick them from the stem. After harvesting, it is better to consume them immediately.

Instead, you can store the fruits in the fridge and freeze them for a few months. When served dry, you can keep them for up to 7 months.

Pruning Fig Trees After Transplanting

To prune a fig tree for the first time, trim away about half of the tree after its first winter outside so it can focus on developing strong roots. Then, after the second winter, cut everything except 5 or 6 strong new branches for the fruit to grow on.
Pruning Fig Tree

It is the first time to do pruning when growing fig trees. You should do it after transplanting the young tree.

After it is first planted, trim the tree back by about a half size. It will make it develops the roots to reach the establishment.

The tree will be bushier after this.

After transplantation in the next winter season, it is recommended to begin pruning the trees for fruiting wood.

As a result, the fruit will be healthy and easy to reach. You can choose about 4 to 6 branches to be wood and cut the rest of them.

How To Prune A Mature Fig Tree

From the third year on, prune every winter. Remove any dead, diseased or damaged wood. Cut off suckers growing from the base. Cut off some of the secondary branches, especially those which form an angle less than 45° with the main trunk – these branches are not strong enough to be sustainable.
Pruning Mature Fig Tree

Before beginning the pruning method, we need to know the right time to prune fig trees. For your information, this kind of tree can bleed more than others.

The bleeding here means a leak sap when cut.

Such bleeding can introduce disease into the pruning area. So, opting for the proper time is necessary to avoid it.

Thus, when is the safest time?

Well, you can prune the tree when they are dormant enough. You can see the dormant state when they drop the leaves.

To prune the fig trees, you will need Pruning shears. This is the second pruning step which is done after the trees are mature enough.

The Steps of Pruning

Plant the fig tree during dormancy, from November to March. Prune in April, cutting back all branches by about a third. The concept is to encourage the tree to channel energy into root development. In June, prune new growth back to 5-leaf length.
Step to Pruning Fig Tree

After the establishment of the fig tree, you need to prune it in the winter season. This time is the best moment when the tree stops growing.

You can begin by eliminating any branches which are not your chosen fruiting wood.

Also, remove the dead or diseased wood you can find. If there are some of them in the base of the tree, take them off.

Next, cut off any branches from the main ones. Sometimes, they are growing below a 45-degree angle.

This pruning fig trees method will help produce the best fruit. Why? That is because the secondary branches will disturb the main trunk.

The last thing to do in this pruning session is to cut back the main branches. Cutting them by one-third to one-quarter is the proper way.

It is a way to help gain more energy to pop out the fruit for next year’s production. The fruit will be larger and sweeter.

It is important to know the right limbs to prune. Cutting back the main branches will keep the trees compact.

So, the figs will be more accessible for harvesting.

Pruning Fig Trees In Pots or Containers

The best time for pruning fig trees is after fruit has ripened, usually in midsummer. This allows time to harden off the fresh growth that is stimulated by cutting.
Pruning Fig Tree in Container

For gardeners who plant fig trees in containers, there will be a slightly different process of pruning. Make sure to prepare clean sharp tools or pruner. That is all you need.

For the young fig trees in pots, you can begin to cut off any suckers that come from the base or rootstock.

Then, just prune the excess branches. Leave the plant with three or four strong main branches. Pick one straight stem as the leader in the center.

When the fig trees are mature in containers, you can just remove the broken and dead stems. Do not cut the parent wood.

Make sure the cut is clear and sealed quickly.

Pruning Bonsai Fig Tree

Prune back to 2-4 leaves after 6-10 leaves have grown. Ideally, do the heavy pruning in the spring but it can be done year round. Keep the new growth trimmed back during the growing season.
Bonsai Fig Tree

This is similar to potted fig trees but it is formed into a bonsai. As we know, the aesthetic look is very important to bonsai.

The plant relies upon the stem and root pruning. That becomes the reason it gets its form and size goal.

There is a special treatment for pruning fig trees in bonsai form. Since the plants are delicate. The pruning should be done by an expert.

Furthermore, the gardener could be a bonsai master or the studied one.

The kits for pruning fig trees would be special and unique for bonsai. Also, doing the right process is very important.

So, it will create a handsome contorted, tiny tree.

How To Prune A Fig Tree For Winter Protection

Cut off some of the secondary branches, especially those which form an angle less than 45° with the main trunk – these branches are not strong enough to be sustainable.
Winter Protection Fig Tree

For those who grow fig trees in the ground and live in colder climate, winter protection is very essential.

Winterizing it properly will give great success for plant growth. There is some type of figs to plant in a colder area, such as Celeste, Brown Turkey, Chicago, and Ventura.

Choosing one of those varieties will increase the chance of success in growing the fig tree.

The most essential procedure to do is to implement winter protection. You apply it when the plant has lost all of the leaves during the fall season.

This is how to prune a fig tree for winter protection. Cut away the weak and diseased branches. The ones that crossed other branches should also be off.

Besides, you should tie the branches together to make a column. Place a pole and tie them to that if needed.

Then, put the thick mulch layer on the ground.

Additionally, use some burlaps to wrap the tree. With all layers, you have to leave the top open to get the heat and moisture out.

After that, build a cage around the plant. You can use any material. Many people use chicken wire to create a sturdy cage.

Fill it with leaves. Further, wrap all the fig trees in plastic insulation. Last, put the plastic bucket on the wrapped column.

You can just wait until winter is over. The winter protection needs to be removed in the early spring.


Pruning fig trees is a crucial step for growing plants. Follow the procedures with careful consideration and proper execution. Hopefully, the information above helps you with that.

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