How To Prune Your Fiddle-leaf Fig - Backyard Boss
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How To Prune Your Fiddle-leaf Fig

While fiddle-leaf fig plants (Ficus lyrata) are notoriously difficult to care for, it is incredibly rewarding to successfully grow full and healthy plants. With the right care, your plant’s large, lyre-shaped leaves can reach new heights, adding a luxurious feel to your home, not to mention plenty of greenery.

As with many plants, pruning fiddle-leaf fig trees is essential to growth and health. But how can you properly snip away the leaves without damaging the plant? And when exactly is the best time to get the job done? Fortunately, this guide will detail the step-by-step directions to make shaping and pruning your fiddle-leaf fig as simple as possible!

Tools You’ll Need

collection of plants with garden tools
Image credits: Svetlana Glazkova via Shutterstock

Before you can properly prune your fiddle-leaf fig tree, you’ll need to compile the right tools. Thankfully, the list is quite short and includes items many home gardeners should already have in their collection!

  • Pruning shears
  • Gardening gloves
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Sheets of newspaper (optional)
  • Soapy water
  • Rag or cloth
  • Glass or jar with clean water

Why Trim Your Fiddle-leaf Fig?

Healthy fiddle-leaf fig tree
Image credits: Scott Webb via Unsplash

If your fiddle-leaf fig has taken a while to grow, you may be wondering why you should prune it at all. First of all, pruning isn’t only about removing excess growth! It is also important to remove any dead or dying leaves, clean up the plant, and allow it to focus on new growth.

Trimming also promotes better airflow between the leaves, which is better for the plant overall. Since the plants can grow to be 15 to 25 feet tall, pruning may also be essential to keeping your fiddle-leaf fig a better size for your home. Pruning also gives you a chance to shape the plant to your preferences.

When To Prune

Scandinavian Decor style Plant Green Leaf.Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree.
Image credits: pornpawit via Shutterstock

Knowing when to prune your fiddle-leaf fig tree is just as important as knowing how to prune. You can remove dead or dying leaves whenever you’d like. With that said, it is actually best to remove those as regularly as possible to avoid bacteria growth and the potential of disease.

Actually trimming down the size of your tree or removing stems or branches for propagation, on the other hand, is best done in spring or summer. Pruning in winter can cause the plant to go into shock since it is dormant, which also means the cuts won’t heal as quickly since the plant isn’t actively growing.

Even if you prune incorrectly but make your cuts at the right time of year, the plant should have enough time to recover when it is actively growing, which is during summer.

How To Prune Your Fiddle-leaf Fig

With the right tools and knowledge on why and when to prune your fiddle-leaf fig, you’re ready to begin the process!

Step 1: Preparation

Gardener cleaning and sharpening garden tool in autumn.
Image credits: Radovan1 via Shutterstock

The first step in pruning any plant is preparing your tools. First and foremost, you need a clean, sharp pair of pruning shears. You can clean them in hot soap and water, or sanitize them with rubbing alcohol. Sharpening is simple: apply your PPE, disassemble the blades, sharpen them, and put them back together!

You can also lay a few sheets of newspaper around the area where you will be pruning the tree. This will protect your floors from any milky sap from the plant and also make clean-up easier.

Step 2: Shaping and Cutting

A man is using pruning shears to cut the branches of a Fiddle-leaf fig.
Image credits: PATHOMRAT PRAERIN via Shutterstock

To begin pruning, carefully trim away dead leaves and overgrowth, snipping them off where they meet the stem or trunk of the plant. Then, decide on the shape you want the tree to be. If you want it to remain tall and thin, cut branches away from the sides and bottom. If you want it to be more shrubby, cut from the top. Find the branches or stems you want to trim and make a diagonal cut in between two nodes (the slightly raised small bud where stems grow).

Pro Tip: If you notice your plant is growing off balance, you may be tempted to snip away the lopsided growth. But if one side of the plant is facing a window, that side will grow towards the light. To avoid this issue, rotate the plant weekly. This way, all sides of the tree will get enough light.

Step 3: Clean Up and Propagate

A leaf from fiddle-leaf fig tree grow plants in water
Image credits: onairp via Shutterstock

Once you’ve trimmed away the leaves, it is time to clean up. This means tossing dead leaves and used newspaper in your compost pile. If you are removing branches to shape the plant, you can actually propagate them to make new fiddle-leaf fig trees!

While there are a few different ways to propagate your cuttings, one of the simplest is with a glass of clean water. Simply submerge the node in water and place it in bright, indirect light. Allow roots to grow and then repot in well-draining soil and a planter with drainage after about five weeks.

Cut It Out!

While it’s not easy to grow the perfect fiddle-leaf fig, you can easily clear away dead foliage and train the plant to grow exactly how you’d like with the proper pruning techniques. It is crucial to prune during the growing season to allow the tree ample time to recover and properly root your excess cuttings. Overall, pruning is incredibly simple and good for your fiddle-leaf fig plant!

Do you have any tips for pruning fiddle-leaf fig trees? Share in the comments below!