Fig trees can grow as a bush or a tree, depending on how you plant and prune them. They are extremely sensitive to cold damage and thus require certain pruning techniques while young to shape them correctly. When older, pruning will stop fruit production as fruits grow on last year's wood. In the first three years, however, you must prune to keep the tree healthy and thriving.
Allow the tree to grow in its first year. It needs to gain strength before you can take branches off of it. Prune during the second and third winters when the tree is dormant.
Disinfect the pruning shears by wiping the blades with rubbing alcohol on a rag. This will prevent the spread of disease among your plants.
Cut off weak, diseased or dead branches. Also cut off suckers or water sprouts growing from the base of the fig tree. This will ensure that all of the energy the tree needs to grow goes into healthy wood.
Do not allow the tree to develop multiple trunks. To prevent this, you must head back main branches so that they stay smaller than the trunk. Also, thin out dense inner growth at this time.
Shape the tree, pruning upward-growing branches short and outward-growing branches long. This will give the tree a flat top shape that will protect it from cold injury.
Treat all cuts with a wound healer. This will keep disease and unwanted insects from invading the tree while it is vulnerable.