How to Prune Figs for Disease

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Although figs (Ficus carica) thrive in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 6 to 9, they are susceptible to a variety of diseases. Figs are vulnerable to many types of leaf spot, stem canker and blight. These diseases can cause branches to die and may even be severe enough to kill the tree. Pruning is one of the best ways to control and prevent disease. With pruning, dead and diseased branches can be removed, and the tree can be opened for better air circulation and sunlight penetration.

Things You'll Need

  • Lopping shears
  • Bleach
  • Pruning saw
  • Plastic trash bag
  • Household oil
  • Prune diseased, damaged or dead branches less than 1 inch in diameter at least 8 inches into live, healthy tissue with lopping shears. Make cuts just above a lateral branch or bud at a 45-degree angle facing out toward the lateral branch or bud. Sterilize pruning tools between each cut by soaking the blades in a solution of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water for 15 seconds.

  • Remove branches larger than 1 inch in diameter with a three-cut method. Make the first cut 1 to 2 feet from the trunk and underneath the branch with a pruning saw, cutting about halfway into the branch. Cut into the top of the branch about 3 inches past the first cut, causing the branch to break off. Make a final cut 1/4 of an inch beyond the branch collar, making sure to cut into live, healthy tissue.

  • Prune branches that block out sunlight or air circulation in the center of the tree back to a lateral branch, removing them 1/2 of an inch above an outward-facing bud at a slant.

  • Dispose of any removed plant material in a plastic trash bag, along with any fallen leaves. Sterilize pruning tools in the solution, and wipe the blades with a cloth dampened in household oil.

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