How to Prune a fig Tree ( Step By Step Guide)

Last Modified

March 13, 2023 by Hirah Ehsan

Prune your fig tree regularly, because it will facilitate sugars and hormones getting all the way to the fruit, which will make the figs taste sweeter and tastier. To prune a fig tree, one should know how to prune a fig tree correctly.

You should prune fig trees whenever you find limbs that are diseased, damaged, or dead. As with pruning any other plant, this is basic “maintenance pruning. Fig trees should be pruned according to certain guidelines during their early development.

It is generally fairly easy to prune fig trees. It is important to prune the first or second year of a fig tree’s growth pattern to prepare it for the years to come. If you keep up with some basic maintenance, you can prune very little or very elaborately afterward, and it will continue to thrive.

The ordinary fig tree comes from the Moraceae family and is considered a deciduous shrub. Mulberry trees are related to this tree because of this fact. A native of western Asia and southeast Europe, this plant grows in coastal regions. Plants from this genus have become invasive in North America. It takes a fig tree 10 to 20 feet to reach maturity. Spreading is one of their habits.

They are a good choice for patio landscaping not only because they bear their namesake fruit, but also because they have useful characteristics related to tropical landscaping.

How to prune a fig tree

 Following are three steps to follow:

1. The first pruning step is cleaning

The first pruning step is to clean the tree, which should include:

Any decayed, dead, or dry branches should be removed

The current tree shoots must be cut off as soon as they emerge from the trunk

 All branchlets growing towards the crown of the tree should be pruned

how to prune fig tree

2. Thinning

It is important to thin a tree so that all the leaves in the crown can receive light and air. Diseases and pests are less likely to spread due to thinning.

Removing down growth

Overlapping branches should be cut off

As much as possible, keep the crown thin to maintain a uniform density of foliage.

Cut out the branches leaving approximately 60 degrees between the two that split, where the branches fork away from the tree trunk. Leave the largest healthy branch that branches away from the trunk. In the case of a lower angle, neither air nor sunlight will be enough to keep the vegetation at a healthy level. A minimum of 20 cm must surround each branch. A branch must have a sufficient amount of airflow and space to grow.

The branches that have been removed are over 35 cm in length and have no side branches or branches that are forked.

3. A gentle style, trim, and shape

The last step involves gently styling, trimming, and shaving the crown to maintain symmetry. Cut toward the trunk from the outside. Creating thicker and shorter branches is the objective of this step. About 1 cm above the chosen bud, remove about 1/3 of last year’s growth.

Tips to follow for Pruning

Pruning occurs during the first year of growth in order to form a tree crown. The crown should only be thinned by removing one or two branches. The first step is to make a vase-shaped crown for the tree. I pruned only one branch on this young fig tree that was heading toward the center of the crown. Here are some tips you can follow

  • Prune Every Year It’s easy

Pruning should be done annually. Be consistent with your pruning and do not skip a year! Every year, you may want to trim your trees during the dormant season. It would be advisable to prune it as soon as the last frost has passed.

You can prune your indoor fig tree from February until early April if it’s kept indoors. Step 2 outlined how to prune. Now that you know how to prune, you can move on to step 3. All other branches should be pruned to the ground except four to six.

  • Branches should be pruned correctly

In order to ensure the results of your pruning are consistent, there are some tips you should follow each year. You may want to consider pruning any branches that point outward from your fruiting wood. Make sure it does not point inward. You should cut it if it protrudes horizontally.

  • Getting Rid of Dead Wood

It’s important to remove diseased fig tree branches if they show signs of illness so that the disease doesn’t spread. Cut off any dying or dead wood as well. It is unsightly to have dead wood, but the decaying wood is more likely to attract disease.

It is important to remove branches or suckers that are damaged and select a new branch or sucker that has developed as a fruiting branch late in the winter.

  • Take out the suckers.

The suckers of fig trees grow from leaves near the trunk or from the roots near the base. Despite its appearance, it may not come from the main branches or trunk of the tree.

Originally from the effort to grow more branches, suckers can be the result of a stressed tree or one that has been spliced. It is necessary to remove suckers. You will lose an increasing amount of energy from your tree if you do not prune these branches.

If you do not prune the branches, the fig tree will weaken and yield less. The removal of lateral branches that grow close to the ground should also be done in the same way. If they stay, these plants will, like most suckers, be a drain on the fruit and foliage of their parent trees.

  • Secondary branches need to be pruned

 The fruiting wood branches grow out of these limbs. Fruiting wood branches should be pruned at an angle less than 45 degrees. As a result of the unsustainable angle at which these branches are growing, they will be extremely weak.

  • Pruning fruited wood

Besides pruning those non-fruiting branches, you will need to prune the 4 to 6 fruiting branches as well. Your main branches can be pruned 1/3 to 1/4 their original size in order to encourage growth, additional fruit growth, and efficiency.

  • The distance

 It is essential not to overcrowd flowering branches with fruit, as we discussed previously. Maintain a distance of 12 to 15 inches between branches. Verify that the branches don’t point inward. If any branches cross over each other, make sure they are pruned. It doesn’t matter whether the trees bear fruit.

  • During autumn, remove fruit that may be harmful.

During autumn, take a look at your fig crop. Figs that do not begin to ripen should be removed and discarded if you see them. If the fruit is smaller than a pea, however, you may leave it alone.

Because this fruit is in the embryonic stage, unnecessary resources will not be used. Early summer and late summer are the best times for fig trees to bear fruit. In this sense, fruit that has not reached maturity by autumn is likely to never reach maturity.

 Pruning of fig fruit that does not ripen to maturity has the same purpose as pruning most other kinds of fruit; it is simply to redirect resources to target areas of the tree that have a greater need for them.

A healthy tree stores energy and prepares for dormancy during the fall. It is possible to strengthen a tree for winter by removing fruit that will steal energy for no purpose.

  • Fig trees should be trimmed and pruned immediately

When a tree is transplanted, it is recommended that you prune it right away. There are those who suggest that you ought to wait until the first dormant season has ended to sow.

Trees get off to a great start if they’re pruned shortly after transplantation. As a result of your training, the tree grows with energy focused in a more direct aspect as opposed to a much more diluted distribution. In this way, the tree will be stronger and better established at the end of the growing season.

If you remove too much of the tree right after transplanting it, however, there is some risk of shocking it. The vast majority of fig trees are resilient to damage and are unlikely to succumb to it.

However, you could end up stunting the growth of your sapling, and it could even begin to wither if your sapling is already somewhat weak before you prune it.

Pruning a tree as soon as possible is generally a good idea if you trust the stock and origin. It is best to wait until the first dormant season before pruning a tree if you are uncertain of the integrity of the tree.

  • Prune in the first winter

It is generally done during the winter months when the fig tree is dormant. A low level of milky fluid (latex) spread in branches at this time of year makes it the best time to prune the tree. During the early stages of pruning, you should hold back and wait a bit while the milky fluid is still present.

Pruning Fig Trees at the Right Time

If your fig tree needs to be cut back in February, feel free to do so. If you want, you can cut it back further. The first year after pruning, however, fig trees are usually less productive after having been pruned hard.

If you prune the tree to reduce its height, try trimming back as much as possible to the strongest branches on the horizontal sides. As a result, the tree will grow more slowly and spread more widely.

New growth will shoot straight up when you shorten a vertical branch. The tree looks good and produces good fig crops, so replacing it isn’t necessary, in my opinion.

The Reasons Why Figs Don’t Ripe

Fig lovers’ worst nightmare is a tree that ripens too early and has unripe figs scattered around all season. The sweetness of these end-of-season fruits often tempts us to pick them before they are fully ripe. Italian gardeners will tell you not to pick an unripe fig, saying that they never ripen off the tree.

Here are some tips to prevent this

1.Figs should be “pinched”

It is only on the newly grown section of the branch, at the end of the branch, that you’ll find main season figs, as far as evergreen fig trees are concerned. The early crop (breba) on some trees is generated by the previous season.

It is important to keep new growth to a minimum in the spring after the plant has set its first leaves, in a process known as “pinching. Ideally, this would be similar to pruning grapevines or fruit trees.

 If you are doing this, you will need to examine this year’s growth. It will be greener and more supple than the previous year. Pinch off five to six leaves from the growing tip of the current growth, starting on the trunk side.

The same principle applies to later seasons as well. According to some gardeners, pinching off the ends of branches which have already set fruit can increase the chances of the last figs ripening.

Many forested West Coast areas encourage trimming tips off the trees late in June/early July. After the tree has already set fruit, removing the tips of the branches will lead to the tree stopping its growth to focus all its energy on ripening fruit rather than growing.

2. Reducing the number of figs

 It is perfectly fine to use the early pinching method during the Summer, even if you forgot to pin the growth back in the Spring. The same applies to a tree that has already produced fruit. The greenest, tiniest fruit nearest the trunk is at the top of the tree. Thus, the remaining fruit will be ripened by the tree’s energy. The figs will grow smaller but ripen more easily. In case the weather is going to be cold in the coming days, you might want to try this technique. There are options still available.

3. Olive oil on the figs

 A second method is to smear oil on the eye of the fig to make it ripen faster. This can simply be accomplished by dabbing a Q-tip with olive oil and lightly brushing it across the belly button opposite the stem at the bottom of the fig.

Anointing the figs in this manner prevents ethylene gas from escaping and accelerates ripening. These figs will ripen quickly in two days. Note, however, that figs that are severely underripe won’t work with this method.

Trees can also fall from them. Also, some people prefer the taste of naturally ripened figs to those ripened in this manner. In case the weather is going to be cold in the coming days, you might want to try this technique.

When pruning, remember these important points

  • You should use very sharp pruning shears or garden loppers. Sharpening a kitchen knife is as easy as sharpening any other.
  • You must use pruning shears or garden loppers, and make sure they are thoroughly cleaned with alcohol.
  • Prevent disease from spreading to healthy trees by removing pruned branches correctly.
  • You should coat thicker branches with grafting wax if you prune them. It is possible to prevent disease in this manner.
  • Following your pruning, spray oil on your trees to prevent diseases and pests so that they can survive the winter. After a few weeks, fertilize.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is full sun better for fig trees?

The more sun your fig trees receive, the bigger their fruit will be. Partial shade is fine for fig trees, but full sun will produce the best results. Fig trees like it dry in the fall and winter as well. However, they do require some supplemental water in the growing season.

What are the best ways to keep fig trees pest-free?

In order to defeat borer infestations, you must have a good offense.   Adding netting to the trees’ lower portions will stop females from laying eggs there. Using Vaseline, coat the foil and place it on top of the net. Spraying is sometimes necessary to remove bugs, and spider mites on figs.


The effectiveness and efficiency of pruning can be increased by using essential tips. Before you begin, check to see if you have all the needed supplies. Saving time, energy, and frustration will be easier with this method. You will also have an easier time doing your job.

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