How to Prune Fig Tree Branches

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Fig trees have intricate branch systems.
Fig trees have intricate branch systems. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Figs are fruits thought to be native to western Asia, according to the California Rare Fruit Growers, even though the trees that produce them are commonly grown throughout the Mediterranean. Fig trees require a warm, dry climate to grow. When fig trees reach full maturity, they can achieve heights up to 50 feet, though 10 to 30 feet is common. Keeping fig trees at a manageable size and healthy requires some pruning.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning saw
  • Pruning shears

Allow the tree to develop naturally after the first few years if you are not concerned about the size of the tree and if it has plenty of room to grow. Fig trees thrive without a lot of pruning. Do not trim trees just for the sake of trimming. Many fig trees only need their branches pruned to promote health.

Begin pruning during the second year of the fig tree’s development. Prune the branches of the fig tree immediately after the year’s harvest, so that the tree has the entire dormant season to heal.

Keep all branches of the fig tree shorter than the trunk of the tree during the first four or five years of development. Cut off the tips of all branches, removing up to one-third of each branch, with a pruning saw. You can also use this technique to limit the size of a fig tree.

Clip all of the small limbs from the inside of the tree near the trunk, cutting at the base of the limbs with shears. These small limbs do not produce buds or fruit, but steal nutrients from the rest of the tree and block sunlight.

Cut off any branches that have dead wood or are infested with insects or disease. All of these conditions can spread to the rest of the tree. Cut the branches at the nub where they meet the trunk, leaving the nub on the tree.

Remove any suckers at the base of the tree with shears or pinch them off at the base. Suckers are like secondary trunks growing up, but begin with a small diameter, like that of a limb.

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