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How To Prune Fig Trees – All Details You Need To Know

If you have a fig tree at home, you know that pruning or trimming one is not easy. This is why I am here to give you some tips on how to prune fig trees like a pro. There will be tips and tricks on how to do the job properly, and pruning fig trees will be easy. Everything you need to know about fig trees will be all down below, so let’s take a look.

1. Why Prune Fig Trees?

Just like many other trees, pruning is a very essential requirement that fig trees need from time to time. Pruning fig trees is actually basic maintenance that you should know how to do. Some of the main reasons why you should prune fig trees are:

  • Pruning your fig trees regularly is to keep them small and sturdy, and that will prevent large branches from breaking off. This also means harvest is convenient for you when the tree itself is easy to reach.
  • One of the main reasons is that pruning your fig trees during the dormant season can help boost their production. When the old and unproductive parts of the trees are gone after pruning, new growth begins. This is how the trees become more productive, and you will get plenty of produce during the growing season.
  • Pruning fig trees can help with the look of the trees themselves, making them more lively and vibrant. The branches or bushes will become thicker, and their health also become better which results in a very beautiful appearance.
  • Sometimes there are damaged, dead, or diseased branches that the trees have, and you don’t want that to spread. This is why you have to prune those limbs the moment you see them to prevent the diseases from spreading.

2. What Happens If I Don’t Prune Fig Trees?

The thing that you should know about fruiting trees is that they direct energy to all branches to support them. When you don’t prune your fig trees when it is the time too, you will not get a good fruit yield. Simply put, the useless branches will drain the nutrients from the trunk. That means the fruiting branches will not get enough supplements to produce big fruits for you to harvest. This is why you should regularly prune or trim them so that the fruiting branches can produce big fruit yields.

3. When To Prune Fig Trees

There are many reasons and time that you will need to prune fig trees, and doing so is beneficial to them.

3.1. First Stage

If you grow fig trees by yourself, prune them in their very first year. And if you buy them from a nursery, give them some pruning as soon as you plant them. So what should you focus on when it comes to pruning young fig trees? Cut back around 50% of the branches of those young fig trees. Doing so will encourage the trees to establish a strong root system since they don’t have branches to feed.

3.2. First Winter

Another occasion to prune your fig trees is during their first winter which is the end of their dormant season. Doing so is simply preparing your fig trees to sprout and grow when early spring approaches.

3.3. Every Year

After you completed the first two steps, continue to prune your fig trees every year after that. The next time to prune in the following years is during their dormancy to encourage their growth and productivity. So when early summer comes, your fig trees will deliver plenty of fresh fruits.

Note: However, you must not prune your fig trees when you see them bleed (leak sap when cut) a lot. This is to decrease the chances of them getting any diseases that affect the health of the entire tree. The best time to prune, however, is when they start to go into dormant state which you can notice when they drop their leaves.

4. How To Prune Fig Trees & What To Prune

When it comes to figs, they come in two forms: fig bush and fig tree. Both of them need pruning, and the pruning method is not too different from each other. All you need are the right tools and knowing when to prune them, then you are good to go.

  • New Growth: During the peak summer months, you should only allow five or six leaves to grow new branches. In this stage, all you need are your fingers to pinch off the additional leaves. This is to direct important energy to the fruiting branches, making the fruits big and healthy. And if it does not produce edible fruits, you can skip this.
  • Secondary Branches: These are the branches that you should trim, the ones that grow off a main fruiting branch. And if the secondary branches grow too close to the fruiting branches, trim them as well. This is to help the fruiting branches to grow healthily without being disturbed by other branches.
  • Select: You cannot just prune the branches that you randomly pick to go. Make sure to select the branches that extend from the main trunk, should be at least 5 branches at least. Those branches that you choose to prune will be the main branches that will bear fruit next seasons for you. Along with that, cut off other small branches from the main trunk so that they don’t fight for nutrients.
  • Suckers: You don’t want suckers around or near your fig trees, the name says it all. So suckers are small leafy growth that you will see near the tree base. They are not the friends of your fig trees, so take them out if you can.

5. Fig Tree Pruning Tips

Pruning fig trees is not a difficult thing, and I have some more tips to assist you. All of the tips below will just add more details on how to prune fig trees and when to prune fig trees. I am positive that you will get to understand even more about pruning fig trees, so check them out.

  • Always make sure to use clean shears before you prune your fig trees to avoid spreading diseases between plants. Clean them with alcohol before you use them to prune or trim the trees.
  • The best time to plant your fig trees is from November to March which is during their dormancy. Then, you can start the pruning steps as follow.
  • In April, prune the trees once by cutting back all branches by around a third of the entire length. The purpose is to boost the nutrients to root development for young fig trees.
  • When June comes, prune your fig trees again and leave the new growth at about 5-leaf length.
  • Wait until winter, which is from November to March again, before the next pruning session comes. Then choose a few strongest branches, then prune them so that they will be the fruiting branches in spring.
  • Besides the annual pruning, make sure to prune branches that cross other branches. If a branch rubs against another branch near it, prune it as well; or remove it if is not important.
  • Remember that fig fruit only develops on the previous year’s new wood. So prune the long and non-fruiting branches that you think are not necessary to be on the tree.
  • Depending on the growth of the trees, you may need to prune them again in late May and late June.

6. Best Pruning Shears For Pruning Fig Trees

To be able to make the best and most accurate cuts, you will need to have sharp pruning shears. If this is your first time, I am here to introduce you to some of the best pruning shears today. Below are some high-quality and sharp pruning shears or scissors that you can take into consideration. Perhaps one of them will be your next favorite shears, so feel free to check them out.

6.1. Professional Premium Titanium Pruning Shears

By: gonicc

The most important part about pruning shears is the blade, and this pair has just that. These pruning shears have a premium titanium steel blade with ultra-fine polishing technology. More than that, the shears even come with a sap groove design which is a total plus. This unique design prevents the shears from sticking to the branches of the trees when you prune or trim them.

Plus with the non-slip ergonomic handles, they are so comfortable and convenient to use. Not to mention the anti-rust oil application on the blade, you won’t have to worry about rust at all. Such great quality at this price, no doubt why thousands of users are happy with these pruning shears.

6.2. Sharp All-Steel Blade Pruning Shears

By: Fiskars

When it comes to gardening tools, Fiskars is the brand that you can totally trust. Thanks to the all-steel design, the blade of these pruning shears is extremely durable and strong. It stays sharp longer, and it is rust-resistant so the quality is also long-lasting which is a big bonus. You can use it to cut stems, trim branches, and do many other gardening tasks.

The best part is the fact that these pruning shears deliver clean cuts all the way through. One cut, and you can move on to the next branch which is easy and fast. And just like how you want, the shears are also comfortable in hand due to the ergonomic design. Since they have the open-lock function, control and safe storage are also convenient, you should definitely check them out.

6.3. Hand Pruner With Straight Stainless Steel Blades


You probably wonder if the blades can actually cut fig branches, but they actually can. Slender yet extremely sharp and strong, the stainless steel blades of these can cut through branches easily and effortlessly. The blades simply provide precise cuts, and controlling the entire shears with one hand is just so simple. You can use it for deadheading, shaping, pruning, and trimming plants and trees in your garden with ease.

As for the spring design, it is to reduce hand strain so that you can use them longer without hurting your hand. On top of that, you can conveniently use these pruning shears no matter if you are a left-handed or a right-handed person. After use, you can lock it for safe storage within seconds. For a good price like this, it is clearly among the best pruning shears deals that you should not miss.

7. How To Clean Pruning Shears

Proper cleaning and sterilization after use make your pruning tools clean and more long-lasting so that you can use them longer. The purpose of cleaning after every use is to get rid of diseases and any pathogen that sticks to the blades. So next time you use them, the blades won’t spread those harmful elements to your trees. Below are some items that you can use to clean your pruning shears, so take a look.

7.1. Bleach

If you want to be on a budget when cleaning your pruning tools, bleach is the number option. Mix bleach at a 1:10 ratio with water, then soak the pruning shears in the solution for around half an hour. Then rinse them, and hang them in the sun to dry them. You can also use this mixture to dip your pruning shears between each cut when you prune your trees. This is to ensure that each and every cut you make is clean and safe.

Are there any drawbacks when using bleach to clean pruning tools? Yes, and those are the harmful fumes and the damage that it causes to the appearance of the tools. Bleach can damage metal, plastic, and rubber, as well as clothing and other surfaces. Even if you don’t like it you can still use this method once in a while in case of emergency.

7.2. Ethanol

The great thing about ethanol is that it is an ideal option to choose for sanitizing your pruning equipment. You can simply dip it in or wipe it with this disinfectant product with ease. More than that, you can use it without dilution which is even more convenient. Not to mention that you can easily find this product at drug stores, getting one is not an issue. Bear in mind that ethanol is flammable, so make sure to use and store it away from heat sources.

7.3. Home Remedy

And, of course, I have to include at least one home remedy that you can use to sterilize pruning equipment. Before anything, hose down the pruning tools first to get rid of the debris and dirt from them. Then soak your pruning shears in vinegar for 10 minutes to soften debris and sticky sap for easy removal. After then, mix dishwashing liquid with warm water in a container and soak the shears for another ten minutes.

Use a stiff or wire brush (your old toothbrush will also do) to scrub the surfaces of your pruning tools. I highly recommend the proper brush so that you can remove dirt, pathogens, and stains easier and faster. Make sure to scrub everywhere from the blades to the handles as well as the all corners and edges. Be careful around the blades, and it is advisable to wear gloves to protect your fingers. After that, rinse them with clean water and use a clean cloth to pat the water off the tool. Then put it on a clean spot outside and let it air dry, and that’s it.

7.4. Household Disinfectants

In case you run out of your pruning tools cleaners, try household cleaners like Listerine, Lysol, or Pine Sol. Either of these work just as great when it comes to sterilizing your pruning scissors or shears. Definitely not the best cleaning supplies due to their high price and functions, you can still use them once in a while.

7.5. Isopropyl Alcohol

Similar to bleach, isopropyl alcohol is another inexpensive method that you can use to clean your pruning shears. On top of that, it is also very convenient and easy to work with as well. Just wipe the tools after use, dip them in or spray them with the isopropyl alcohol right away. This is the easiest and fastest way to kill most pathogens from the blades and the entire tools. Although it has the same fumes, isopropyl alcohol is among the best options for cleaning and sterilizing your gardening tools.

Wrap Up

And that was it, pruning fig trees is actually easier than you thought, right? All you need to know is the right branches and the time to prune them, and you are good to go. No matter if you have fig bushes or trees, the guide and tips above are right for them all. Hopefully, your fig trees will give you a bigger yield and more fruits in the next harvest season.

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