How to prune a fig tree

The fig tree is one of the most common fruit-bearing plants found in the wild due to its great adaptability to the Mediterranean climate, drought and poor soils, and for this reason we often see isolated specimens that are left free to develop completely. Natural.

This is not bad in itself, but if the fig tree is specially cultivated in the garden or in the orchard in order to obtain satisfactory production, some pruning is necessary, even in organic management. Let’s see how and when to prune this species with sweet and tasty fruits in professional and private cultivation.

The goals of fig tree pruning are basically three, which we list below.

  • Dimensions. Keep the plant at a certain height, so that it can be harvested from the ground, without the need for a ladder.
  • Productivity . A balanced and constant production.
  • Security . The wood of the fig tree is not as strong as that of other trees and in strong winds it can fall and cause damage, especially if it is near a road or near the house, so in some cases, it is necessary to cut the branches that are particularly at risk.

The main pruning operations carried out for the fig tree, as for many other plants in the garden, are of two types: breeding pruning, which aims to fix the shape of the plant in its first years, and production pruning, which are the periodic interventions carried out throughout the useful life of the tree.


breeding group

The rearing pruning, it should be remembered, is that which is done in the first years after planting the plant and aims to orient it towards the desired shape. In the case of the fig tree, the plants are allowed to grow quite freely but always with certain criteria. We normally keep fig trees in a pot or globose bush.

Glass – balloon

In the fig grown in a globular pot, we observe a fairly low stem with the main branches, which open about at equal distance, in a situation analogous to that of other fruit species. The interior of the foliage in this case is well lit, and the plant spreads mainly horizontally. At planting, the stem of the fig tree is finished at about 50 cm, so as to stimulate the emission of shoots, from which the future 3 or 4 branches will be chosen.


The fig tree can also be raised as a shrub. In this case, in the spring following planting, which is usually done by a rooted cutting with 3 branches, the latter are shortened to about 30 cm, so that they all branch out. In the spring of the following year, all these new shoots will have to be pruned to a third of their length, which will allow vegetative reforestation and new branches of the bush. Also the following year, these cuts will be made on the branches of the fig tree, while the suckers born in the meantime from the base will be eliminated with grass cuts.

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production power

The fig tree is a species that does not require vigorous pruning. The important thing, when approaching a plant to be pruned, is to observe it from the outside in its entirety and begin to assess if and where to intervene, since in some years it may be limited to the elimination of dry and diseased branches, while in others it is useful to eliminate even certain branches which are too much in competition with others.

In principle, the best cut for the fig is the back cut, with which a branch is cut just above a side branch, thus deflecting growth towards the side, which is younger.

The objectives pursued with the cuts are:

  • The renewal of successful training . In this sense, it is always advisable to remove the small fruiting branches inserted directly on the large branches and on the internal parts of the foliage.
  • air the foliage cutting and choosing between several branches close to each other and tending to cross each other.
  • Removes suckers, root suckers and very protruding branches . Vertical branches do not contribute to production, because they have a lot of vegetative vigor: inside, the sap flows much faster than curved and horizontal branches, which are best suited to fruiting. The chicks that grow at the base and the suckers that emerge from a branch are very strong and take food from other parts of the plant. However, when you need to replace an old or wind-broken branch, a suction cup can be chosen for this purpose.

useful pruning tools

Some useful tips for continuing to prune the fig tree and other plants in the garden.

  • Always make cuts in the grass and avoid cutting the branches leaving long stumps: on the stumps there may be shoots that later sprout with unwanted vegetative reforestation.
  • Avoid pruning, always preferring to cut whole branches, choosing carefully which ones to remove and which ones to leave.
  • The cuts must be clean and not jagged so as not to damage the branch, and they must be inclined to avoid stagnation of water on the cut.
  • Pruning tools, from simple secateurs to cut thin branches, to hacksaws and shears, must be of good quality and well maintained, sharp and clean, possibly disinfected regularly.

Fig tree wood It does not have much value as firewood, since it is soft and generates few calories in terms of combustion, and also in some cases burning it in the fireplace generates a lot of smoke. Alternatively, it can be bio-shredded and then put all that shredded material into the compost.

When to prune the fig

The ideal time for the winter pruning of the fig tree is end of winter after frosts, but also at other times of the year, it is useful to intervene with certain operations.

For example, if you want to remove the suckers to reuse them for cuttings, the best time is September-October, and given the fig’s high sucking attitude, cuttings are a great way to propagate it quickly. In summer, you can do the “balance”, that is to say the elimination of superfluous shoots in competition with those that will be left to grow.

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