How to Prune a Fig Tree

Updated February 21, 2017

Fig trees produce sweet fruit that is used in tasty desserts, salads, cheese plates and eating fresh. Whether you grow green or black figs, you should prune the fig tree annually. Figs require little pruning; the work you do keeps the tree healthy and controls its size. Figs produce two crops a year: a small one in the spring and a large one in the fall. To ensure you get the most figs from your tree, prune in late winter when the tree is dormant, and do not cut heavy fruiting limbs (which will have fruit).

Inspect your fig tree for dead or diseased branches, which need to be removed for the health of the tree. These branches may appear brown, discoloured or shrivelled. They may ooze sap or sport growths or cankers. You will easily be able to identify dead and diseased branches since they look different from healthy ones.

Remove the dead and diseased branches one at a time with either loppers or hand pruners. After each cut, spray your pruning tools with disinfectant, so you don't accidentally pass disease on to healthy parts of the tree.

Trim off thin, weak limbs that do not bear good fruit. Also remove older limbs that produce few figs. Since the tree will have figs browing from the first (breba) crop, you can see which limbs are poor producers.

Remove thick inward growth and suckers that grow from the trunk. Cut off the growth at its base. Figs don't need much pruning, but air should be able to pass through the tree, since it moves bacteria and disease. Dense fig trees are more susceptible to fungal or bacterial disease.

Trim long branches to control their size. Cut them down to a manageable height, and make your cuts at a 45-degree angle just before a node of swollen branch tissue.

Things You'll Need

  • Hand pruners
  • Lopping shears
  • Disinfectant spray
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