How to Trim a Potted Ficus Tree

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Ficus benjamina is a popular, well-loved, and beautiful indoor landscaping plant that is widely used in both homes and businesses. These trees are so long-lived that eventually they need to be pruned or they outgrow their home. Pruning a potted ficus is very much like pruning an outdoor tree or shrub. When pruning, you're aiming to reshape the tree and enhance its overall appearance. Don't just shear off the top. Take a little time to look at and trim the tree from all angles. Try to create a balanced, pleasing silhouette.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Small hand pruning shears

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  1. 1

    Prune off any dead or diseased branches. Trim back to healthy looking wood.

  2. 2

    Cut off any branches that cross over another branch too closely or at an odd angle. Eventually these branches will rub up against each other, removing the bark and providing a convenient entrance for pests and diseases.

  3. 3

    Remove any branches that grow at an odd angle to the tree, jut out from the other branches, or change the basic shape of the tree. Cut back to just above a leaf node facing the outside of the tree.

  4. 4

    Cut the remaining branches back by about 1/3. This is where you give the tree its final shape.

Tips and warnings

  • Prune branches to a point just above a leaf node. This is a slight bump in the bark and is the point from which a new branch will grow. Make your pruning cuts at an angle; this will allow water to slide off the cut stump instead of pooling on top of a flat end, possibly causing the branch to rot.
  • Do not prune more than 30% of the tree in any growing season or it may not recover.

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