How and when to prune a fig tree


The fig is a tree of good size and corpulence, which reaches 8 to 10 meters high in favorable areas. On the contrary, in areas that are not so conducive to its development, it does not exceed the size of a shrub. Its branches, of great diameter, are covered by a bark that at first is green and that, with age, turns white or gray depending on the variety. Its popularity is given by its peculiar and tasty fruit, fig. We could not miss in our blog an article about pruning the fig tree, here we will analyze in depth how and when to perform pruning, with what tools to do it and more.


Note: Please note that the advice given here is general, this blog is consulted from many countries in the world, with totally different characteristics, what not all tips will be adapted in the same way in all cases. Once you finish reading the article it will be necessary to analyze all the information and apply what you have learned in the best way. If you have any questions, remember that you can contact us to make your inquiries.

1. Interesting facts about fig tree


This fruit is one of the first plants that man has cultivated since the beginning of time. This age has given the fig tree hundreds of curious facts, here we will see some of the most striking, I bet you did not know most of them.

  • An article published in the June 2006 issue of the journal Science highlighted the finding of nine sub-fossilized parthenocarpic figs dated around 9400-9200 BC. C. in the Neolithic village Gilgal I, in the Jordan Valley.
  • In South America there is the superstition that having a fig tree at home attracts elves, who try to take unbaptized children to hell.
Pruning Fig tree
Fig tree
  • According to Roman mythology the god Saturn of agriculture was crowned with fig leaves, this because among the Romans the fig tree was a sacred tree.
  • There are myths about wasps inside figs, that’s why vegan people don’t eat them. They believe there are dead wasps inside the fruit.
  • There are beliefs that say it is possible to make guesses with fig leaves. If you write a question on the sheet, it was possible to know the answer according to the time it took to dry.
  • The fig is cited in the Bible and is among the most important fruits of the promised land and is often used in biblical comparisons. The fig is an image of peace and security.
  • The Egyptologist Adolf Erman related in his work how the Egyptians domesticated the monkeys to collect the fruits of the fig tree, since the branches were too weak to bear their weight.

2. Tools needed to prune or trim a fig tree


As with all fruits, there are several tools you will need to carry out your pruning or trimming. Each of them appropriate for different cases depending on the age of the plant, the time of year, type of pruning etc.

  • Pruning shears.
  • Handsaw.
  • Chainsaw.
  • Ladder or scaffolding.
  • Basic safety elements such as helmet and gloves.

Keep in mind that you must disinfect all cutting tools before pruning the fig tree. This will help to avoid transmitting diseases, you will have to do it before you start pruning and every time you change plants.

2.1 Needed care of pruning tools

If you want to extend the useful life of your pruning tools there are some basic care.

  • Use the right tool for a job and avoid twisting or straining it.
  • Clean and oil tools regularly by wiping an oily cloth on blades and other surfaces.
  • Keep cutting edges sharp by regularly using an oilstone.
  • You must keep the wooden handles of all tools properly varnished

Carry out the previous care on a regular basis and you will be saving good money on tools. 🙂

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3. Pruning fig tree – How to prune


With the fig tree there is a certain paradox because, although it is perceived as a fruitless brave little need of man (he grows up in the most bad lands, his roots are going to look for food anywhere, he has a great capacity to self-propagate), he needs at the same time pruning care due to its tremendous vigor.

Low-care fig trees generally “get out of control.” They get to produce a large amount of wood and with high density of branches. This also ends up resulting in low production.

3.1 How to prune young fig trees – Training

What we will look for when doing a pruning of formation in the fig tree is to generate a good structure and facilitate the harvest.
To make it easier for you to harvest it is good to generate a structure with the trunk low. You can give the main trunk a height of 60 cm (low structure) or up to 1.8 m (high structure).

Training pruning consists of cutting the central axis at the desired height and selecting the main branches. In general, you can leave between 3 and 6 main branches. They should be developed with a slightly ascending inclination and with an approximate length of 1-1.5 m. From the main branches the secondary ones will develop.

Young fig tree
Young fig tree

The ultimate goal is to obtain a tree not very tall, less than 3 m. To achieve this goal, it is necessary to practice blunt, without severe pruning that would cause vigorous vegetative development. This, in addition to increasing pruning costs, would reduce the possibility of achieving the established objective.

It is advisable to cut the vigorous branches that develop from before autumn arrives. This since the emission of sap could cause the death of the tree.

In some cases, the formation of plants with several feet and the arching of the branches is advantageous. Since it allows to obtain productive formations that facilitate the collection, reducing the costs of this work.

3.2 Production pruning

The fig tree is a species that requires light pruning. It is limited to cutting dry branches, pacifiers and light pruning in the rest of the tree. This will prevent an exaggerated vegetative growth that would occur in response to severe pruning.

This pruning should be done in winter. Light pruning favors the production of figs, but damages the production of figs in autumn. This is because there is a certain incompatibility between both productions.

At the end of winter (January-February) you can eliminate some terminal buds from the branches where figs will occur. Thus you will favor the fattening of the figs located at the end of the stem.

To anticipate early production, you can remove the terminal button at the beginning of spring. Then, a few days later, cut all the axillary buttons of the bouquet, except two preserved at the bottom.

3.3 Hard pruning – Rejuvenetion

When the production of the fig tree begins to decay in a very marked way, it is the moment in which it must perform a pruning of rejuvenation. It is a hard pruning and can even reach the total decapitation of the tree.

You must analyze which branches should cut and which not. Ideally, anticipate this pruning and perform hard pruning on a scheduled basis in several seasons. Even so, if you get to the extreme of needing to cut the entire tree at ground level, don’t be afraid. This fruit lends itself perfectly to this type of pruning. You will see how spring arrives emits strong new shoots from the base.

Rejuvenetion pruning fig tree
Rejuvenetion pruning fig tree

Don’t forget to cover the wounds with an asphalt putty alone or mixed with a fungicide. This will prevent the entry of diseases and / or pests through the cuts.

3.4 Pruning a fig tree in a pot

If you have a potted fig tree, it may be because you are waiting for it to grow for a transplant, you are controlling its growth because you do not have enough place or do not want to make a bonsai.

In the first case it is not necessary to prune the fig tree, it will only be enough to verify that the tree is forming with a correct structure. We will start with training pruning at the time of transplant.

In the second case, you can apply everything seen in this article. That is, you must perform training, maintenance and if you need restoration.

For the latter case, the bonsai would need a special article to develop it. Maybe in the future I will write it.

4. When to prune your fig tree


The most appropriate time to prune a fig tree is late winter. This will allow less loss of sap, and being close to the growth stages, wounds will soon begin to heal.

As we saw in the section on production pruning, some tasks can be done in the middle and others at the end of winter. Although in the case of climates with winters not very strong, pruning in autumn may be an option.

If what you need is to perform a cleaning pruning, where to eliminate dry or diseased branches, you can do it at any time of the year. Especially if they are diseased branches, you should remove them as soon as possible.

5. Video about how to prune fig tree


If you read other articles in this blog you will have seen that it is customary to close with a video. In this case it is up to the Edge of Nowhere Farm channel, where we will see how to perform pruning in winter.

You may also be interested in knowing about pruning:

With this we finish this article where we make it clear how and when you should prune a fig tree. I hope you have no doubt, otherwise you can contact us. 🙂

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