Pruning Ficus Tree

Pruning Ficus Tree: When And How

What is a Ficus tree? Ficus trees, also known as ficus benjamina, weeping fig tree or the benjamin fig, have a tendency to freak people out… It seems like as soon as the ficus tree comes home, leaves start dropping.

The last thing a Ficus tree owner was to think about is pruning.

There are too many visions of leaf drop in their mind.





Just get out the clippers and make all the plants the same height. That’s the problem – using hedge clippers is NOT the correct way to prune a Ficus Benjamins tree.

Plants much like people and none of these Ficus growers would dare to have their hair cut the same way they “trim” their Ficus crop! If you want the right results you need the correct method.

I’ve always hand pruned my Ficus tree crops all 125,000 plus of them.

I’ll admit I tried the shear method and all it does is promote a disease called Phomopsis. What Phomopsis causes is twig dieback and under indoor conditions, it can get very severe.

How To Trim A Ficus Tree Basics

Learn how to prune a ficus tree.

When Ficus pruning is done correctly can extend its life… proper pruning will also extend the useful life of many indoor plants. Pruning helps:

  • Control or maintain shape and size
  • Promote growth
  • Allow more light and air to the plant
  • Remove dead, diseased or pest-infested foliage


Let’s assume your Ficus bonsai tree has outgrown the space and you need to reshape it.

Start by removing all the dead twigs on the tree. Ficus are lovers of light.

As some of the smaller inner branches are shaded out they just die – this is natural. These twigs will generally be very small about the size of a #2 pencil lead.

Remember – Ficus are lovers of light. It’s important to get light on the foliage where the stronger branches are.

Remove any weak growth in the center of the plant.

Now it’s time to start pruning the outer growth. Remove about one-third of the canopy all the way around the tree.

What you will be doing is reducing the size of the canopy and promoting new growth and a fuller tree.

ficus pruning

Sometimes you’ll get a “wild” branch that heads for the light and just changes the shape of the tree.

Selectively prune this branch or branches back toward the center of the tree. This will force new growth back into the center.

Root pruning is also done by owners who’d like to encourage these deciduous trees to grow back roots closer to the trunk.

Pruning Basics

  • Always cut back to a healthy branch, leaving as small a wound as possible.
  • Always make complete, smooth cuts; never rip or tear a branch.
  • This leaves the plant open to disease or infection.
  • Never cut too far above a bud; this results in a dead stub. It looks bad and can rot back (Phomopsis) into and or past the new growth.
  • Remember the tips (terminal bud) of a branch or stem grow much stronger and faster than lower buds on the branch (lateral bud).
  • When you remove the terminal bud the strongest lateral bud takes its place.

While the thought of fiddle leaf fig pruning may seem intimidating, cutting back fiddle leaf figs is actually very easy.

Be properly equipped when cutting back fiddle leaf figs.

You will want to make nice clean cuts on your plant.

This will only happen with a sharp clean pair of pruning shears, not a dull pair of scissors.

When pruning fiddle leaf fig, it is also recommended to protect the area around your plant with a drop cloth, as any cuts made may ooze a sticky sap on your floors and nobody wants that.

If you are so inclined, consider saving the healthy clippings and root them in a jar of water to make more fiddle leaf fig plants.

Your cuttings should develop good root systems within 1-2 months, at which point they can be planted into small pots.

How you go about pruning fiddle leaf fig will largely depend on your personal preference.

Don’t like the look of tattered or scorched leaves or diseased branches?

Simply snip off any of these eyesores with your pruning shears.

Fiddle leaf figs either have bare or leaf-covered stems or trunks.

If you’re angling for a more tree-like look, your fiddle leaf fig pruning will involve removing the older lower leaves on the trunk, provided you have healthy growth happening on top of your plant.

Are you satisfied with the current height of your fiddle leaf fig?

At the top of your main stem is a growing tip from which new leaves will emerge.

To keep the height of your plant in check, you will need to pinch out these tender leaves as they appear with your fingers.

This may also help to deter lower leaf drop as well as encourage branching of your plant near the pinching points.

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