How to Prune a Ficus Plant

Overview

Many types of plants fall into the family of ficus. The most commonly recognized members of this group are the ficus elastica--also known as the rubber tree plant--and ficus benjamina, which is known by the names weeping fig or benjamin fig plant. Of all the types of ficus plants, it is the ficus benjamina that is most commonly referred to as simply the ficus plant. Ficus plants grow equally well indoors or outdoors, but are known to grow quickly. Often, the ficus plant grows larger than the homeowner expects or wants; regular pruning keeps the plant at a manageable and aesthetic size and shape.

Step 1

Put on gardening gloves to protect your hands. The ficus benjamina does not have thorns, but it does excrete a milky white substance that is mildly toxic. People who have skin or respiratory allergies are often severely affected by this substance.

Step 2

Clip old, leafless wood from the center of the ficus plant. Use gardening shears to clip these dead branches from the plant, where they meet the center trunk. The removal of these dead branches gives new leafy growth more room to develop.

Step 3

Cut off ficus plant branches that are sickly and spindly. These branches grow leaves, but will never develop properly. Removal enables the plant to concentrate this energy on developing the stronger, healthy branches and foliage.

Step 4

Trim the ficus plant into a size and shape that you like. Some ficus plant owners prefer cutting them into rounded tree shapes, while others trim their ficus plants in squared-off hedge shapes. Use gardening shears to cut back the height, and to cut thick branches. Slice thinner, newer branches with a razor blade. Make all of your slices and cuts just above nodes (bumps) on the branches to encourage new growth.

Things You'll Need

  • Gardening shears
  • Razor blade
  • Gardening gloves (optional)

References

  • University of Minnesota Extension: Rubber Trees, Figs, and Other Friendly Ficus
  • AllExperts.com: Ficus Tree Pruning

Who Can Help

  • Bonsaid-BCI.com: Botanical Name Index
Keywords: prune ficus plant, trim ficus tree, cut ficus tree

About this Author

Cyn Vela is a freelance writer and professional blogger. Her work has been published on dozens of websites, as well as in local print publications. Vela's articles usually focus on where her passions lie: writing, web development, blogging, parenting, gardening, and health and wellness. She studied English literature at Del Mar College, and at the University of Texas at San Antonio.