Suggestions for pruning this fiddle leaf fig tree

curtmcdJune 27, 2012


Years ago I took a clipping from my friend's fig tree. It rooted and grew tall as a single stem. Eventually I lopped it off at the top and it shot out three branches. Now it's reaching across the kitchen and to the ceiling, so I need to take measures again. I love the plant and would like to keep it beautiful. I'm afraid of what monstrosity I might end up with if I cut it wrong!

Should I chop all three branches down to a foot long and wait for it to recover? Should I try nicking it at different places to encourage new branching? I can't find anything on the trunk or branches that resembles a bud. I guess I'm shooting for a dense ball standard shape.

Thanks for any suggestions!


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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

As you look at the picture, remove the left branch entirely. Prune the right branch back to 2 healthy leaves and the apex back to 3 healthy leaves. If the plant is root bound, repot (not pot up) w/o delay - let me know if you need more direction ....... and move the plant to the other side of the glass (in the shade). You'll be amazed at the potential currently untapped.

I just spent 5 days vacation repotting tropicals, a good number (30?) of them Ficus of varied species. I think you'd be quite amazed at the before/after pictures and how well the plant responds to pruning above and below the soil line.


    Bookmark   June 27, 2012 at 9:20PM
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ChemGardner(10a SWFL)


I'll be the first to say, "please post the pictures!". Maybe in the ficus containers thread?

    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 7:45AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Lol - I didn't take any before/after pics, but I can take a few after shots - I just meant most would be very surprised at how readily a healthy tree will tolerate significant reduction in the amount of green it has.

I'll post some pics in the Ficus Thread so I don't Hijack this thread.


    Bookmark   June 28, 2012 at 3:57PM
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Thanks Al! I took your advice. I did leave a couple leaves on the front branch as well. Here are a couple pictures. It doesn't look too bad. Hopefully it recovers strongly.

I may try putting it outside for a while, but I'm hesitant. My friend tried that with his (the one I got my original clipping from) during a house fumigation. He thought it was sufficiently shaded, but it burned badly and nearly died.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 8:50PM
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Removed most of the dirt from the root ball and pruned out a lot of the fine clumps.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 8:51PM
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    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 8:52PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I hope my concern is for naught and the roots weren't as dry as they look in the picture. It's important to keep the roots moist at all times while working on them. I usually work quickly to remove as much soil as I can in a minute or so, then complete the work over a tub of water so I can keep dipping the roots in water as I work.

If the roots DID get too dry and you lost most of the fine roots, which are the most important, I don't think your tree will die, but it's likely to defoliate. If you DID keep the roots moist during the repot, disregard what I said or let it serve as reinforcement for when you embark on your next adventure. ;-) The first time is always the hardest. Best luck - keep us posted!


    Bookmark   June 29, 2012 at 9:37PM
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