If you’re just starting out with a small Fiddle Leaf Fig, or have a towering tree that you need to cut back, pruning is your answer. This essential gardening practice has many benefits for the health and growth of your plants and is bound to turn your tree into an Insta-worthy feature. This guide will tell you why you should prune your Fiddle Leaf Fig and how to get it right.
- Pruning Fiddle Leaf Figs – the Essentials
- Why Pruning Fiddle Leaf Figs Is Important
- How Fast, Tall, and Expansive Fiddle Leaf Figs Grow Indoors
- Are All Types of Fiddle Leaf Figs Plant Suitable for Pruning?
- What’s the Best Time of Year to Prune Fiddle Leaf Figs?
- What Are the Essential Tools for Pruning Fiddle Leaf Figs?
- How, When, and Where Should You Prune Fiddle Leaf Figs?
- How Do You Shape Fiddle Leaf Figs?
- Caring for Your Post Pruned Fiddle Leaf Figs
- Wrap Up
Pruning Fiddle Leaf Figs – the Essentials
Prune your Fiddle Leaf Fig from early spring through to summer during the growth peaks to ensure a quick recovery. Pruning just above leaf growth at a slight angle will encourage branching, making your plant bushier. Shaping can also be achieved by removing the lower leaves. Disinfect your pruning shears before use to avoid spreading disease.
Why Pruning Fiddle Leaf Figs Is Important
Fiddle Leaf Figs are not small houseplants and are prized for their ornamental value. However, that does mean their size and spread can become unruly, requiring an occasional cutback to manage growth.
In the right conditions, Fiddle Leaf Figs can easily reach the height of your roof. They are accustomed to growing over 40 feet outdoors, so the few feet it takes to hit the ceiling is no problem for these trees.
However, this does make care difficult and can cause problems with the plant as it spreads horizontally. It’s also not ideal for your ceiling, so managing this height is essential.
Besides being bad for the plant, it’s not great for aesthetics either.
As your Fiddle Leaf hits the ceiling, it will begin to bend over and grow towards the light. This imbalance looks messy and takes away from the beautiful feature these trees are meant to be.
While pruning can help you contain growth, it can also help you spur growth when done correctly. If you’ve found a small Fiddle Leaf and want to nurture it into a bushy and thriving tree, pruning is one of the ways to do it.
When you prune, the plant produces a hormone at the site of the wound that triggers it to heal and continue growing. Depending on where and how you cut, this can also encourage the plant to branch out, creating the full and luscious look plant owners are after.
Pruning is not always about health or growth. It can also be used to improve the aesthetic value of the plant.
No pruning is necessary for those happy to leave their Fiddle Leaf Fig looking wild and bushy. The branches and leaves will grow according to the light they get without any external interference.
However, shaping the branches and removing the bottom leaves can make a big difference if you’re after that traditional tree look.
Shaping may also be required if your Fiddle Leaf becomes unbalanced. The parts of the plant away from the light source will not grow as quickly as those facing the light, leaving the growth unbalanced.
Rotating the pot weekly will prevent this unbalanced growth. But, if you happen to forget to rotate the pot, shaping can fix the imbalance and improve the tree’s overall look.
Pruning for health is one of the most, if not the most, beneficial reasons to prune. All plants will incur damage at some point, either by pest or diseases, owner error, or age. This damage takes energy away from the plant that could be spent on new, healthy growth.
Trimming off damaged fiddle leaf fig stems or yellowed, brown, drooping, or dropping leaves will stop the plant from spending precious resources on keeping those parts alive. It will also prevent pests and diseases that thrive on vulnerable and damaged parts of plants.
If you do come across any pests or diseases on your houseplants, pruning is essential to eradicating the problem.
How Fast, Tall, and Expansive Fiddle Leaf Figs Grow Indoors
Outdoors, Fiddle Leaf Figs grow incredibly tall. Constrained by ceilings and indoor conditions, they still rise to an impressive height of around six feet or taller, but nothing compared to the 40 feet they would grow outdoors.
They reach these heights relatively quickly in the right conditions. Most will grow around one foot in height per year, some up to two feet until they reach ceiling height or are confined by the size of their pot.
The branching level at this height will depend on what kind of pruning you do. With the correct technique, they can branch out to cover more than three feet in width. They will likely grow upwards in one tall stem without pruning, becoming as expansive as their leaf size allows.
Many may be surprised to hear how quickly these plants can grow, facing struggles with their existing plants. However, the right conditions are critical to this rapid growth. They will grow very slowly without the right light or a good-sized pot, only adding a few inches to their height each month.
Are All Types of Fiddle Leaf Figs Plant Suitable for Pruning?
All Fiddle Leaf Figs will benefit from pruning, whether that be for health or to improve growth. Even the small varieties like Bambino or Compacta will look better with the occasional prune.
Heavy pruning is not always necessary, depending on the age and size of your plant. But light pruning is beneficial for all Fiddle Leaf Fig types.
What’s the Best Time of Year to Prune Fiddle Leaf Figs?
Although pruning is good for plants, it needs to be done at the right time to improve growth. The energy required to heal several open wounds and develop the new growth spurred is high, meaning it should only be done in the peak growing seasons.
Early spring is best as the plants will just be kicking off new growth. If your goal is branching, this is the time when your prune will be most effective.
Pruning out of season should only be done when absolutely necessary. In other words, only when you attempt to resolve disease or damage cases. Prune as little as you can, leaving enough to keep the plant going during the growth slow down.
Pruning for growth in the wrong season (when the plant is dormant) will result in new growth being slow or smaller than usual. The wounds will also take longer to heal, leaving the plant vulnerable to pest and disease attacks.
What Are the Essential Tools for Pruning Fiddle Leaf Figs?
A sharp pair of shears is essential in Fiddle Leaf Fig pruning. While soft stem plants like the popular Pothos can often be pruned with ordinary scissors, Fiddle Leaf Fig branches are thick and stubborn, especially if they have been growing for several years.
Before starting, make sure you clean your tools thoroughly to avoid spreading disease. Regular soap and water are suitable for general dirt, but a 5% bleach solution is required to eliminate all harmful germs and bacteria that can impact your new plants.
How, When, and Where Should You Prune Fiddle Leaf Figs?
Your Fiddle Leaf Fig should be well-watered and as healthy as possible before pruning. This will give it the best chance of bouncing back and producing new healthy growth. Early spring is preferred, but any time during spring and early summer is suitable.
Here’s how to get it right:
Start with any leaves that are yellowing, brown, or damaged. Old leaves at the bottom of the central branches may dry out due to age – these can be removed too.
Trim Old Branches
Next, move onto the branches themselves. Remove any outer sections that are underperforming, diseased, or not producing any new leaves. To avoid stunting growth, don’t remove too much of the branch, especially the central branch.
Remove Crossed Branches
If your tree is tall and has many branches, you can also remove any that cross over each other and hinder growth. This will also improve airflow, limiting the risks of disease.
Where To Cut
When making any cuts to the branches, cut just above a point where a leaf is growing, if the conditions are right, the plant should develop two branches rather than one central branch.
Less Is More
Never remove more than one-quarter of the entire plant at one time. This can put the plant into shock, making a recovery slower and more complex.
It’s always better to prune too little than too much. Once the plant has recovered after a month or two, you can prune again if it is still too large.
How Do You Shape Fiddle Leaf Figs?
For taller Fiddle Leaf Figs, you may want to prune your plant into the classic tree shape, with an exposed central trunk and leaves clustered on the top section of the plant. It’s best to wait until the plant is several feet tall before giving this a go, as shorter trees will only look diminished with a lack of leaves.
Simply remove any leaves on the lower half of the plant to expose the trunk. This should only be done when your plant is healthy and thriving, as removing that many leaves on a struggling plant will remove half of its energy supply, stunting growth and resulting in shock.
If you want to encourage your plant to grow into a more bushy and full shape, trim a few centimeters off the tops of the lateral branches where you want them to split. If the cut was made correctly and the conditions are good, two branches should develop from that point.
Caring for Your Post Pruned Fiddle Leaf Figs
Light and water are the most essential parts of post-pruning care. Without enough bright indirect light throughout the day, or even some periods of direct sun, the tree is unlikely to develop two new branches and will instead put out one due to a lack of energy.
Adequate water will prevent shock and stop the new leaves from drying out and becoming deformed. Warm temperatures and high humidity will also improve recovery speed, ensuring your new growth is strong and healthy.
After a week or two, fertilize your Fiddle Leaf with a balanced fertilizer for an added growth boost. Continue to fertilize regularly throughout the season to get the most out of your plants.
Whether you need to remove some damage, get rid of a disease, or simply want to shape your tree into the most aesthetically pleasing plant feature possible, pruning is the way to go. Maintain a light hand for your best chances of success.
For more, see our in-depth guide to the meaning and symbolism of fig trees.