How to Prune a Mission Fig Tree


The mission fig features blackish-purple skin and pink berry-colored flesh. Popular in California, mission figs can be a challenge to grow in the southern United States. Mission figs produce two crops: a breba crop, which grows on old wood and ripens in June, and a second crop, which grows on current growth and ripens by September.

Step 1

Inspect the fig tree branches for signs of dead, diseased or damaged wood. Dead wood will feel light and brittle, while damaged or diseased wood will be physically marred or discolored. Some branches may be broken, especially if you had to wrap your fig for winter protection.

Step 2

Disinfect your anvil pruners by placing them in a bucket filled with 10 parts water and one part bleach.

Step 3

Trim off a dead, diseased or damaged branch by cutting it off at the base. Avoid cutting into the trunk. After making one cut, place the pruners in the bucket again to disinfect. Clean up all dead, diseased and damaged wood in this manner. Afterward, dispose of cuttings in the garbage and throw away the bleach solution.

Step 4

Head back tall branches if you feel your fig is growing too tall. Snip branches back to a node (or swollen joint) or back to a Y intersection. Heading back tall branches promotes the development of offshoots.

Step 5

Remove woody old growth, which will be thicker and darker in color that newer growth. Don't remove the prior season's growth or you'll lose figs; instead, target several-years-old growth, which may have grayish-brown bark.

Step 6

Thin out the canopy to allow for increased air circulation, which protects the fig tree's health. Remove branches that cross or rub against other branches by snipping them off with the pruners. Eliminate weak, thin growth.

Things You'll Need

  • Anvil pruners
  • Bleach
  • Water
  • Bucket
  • Garden gloves (optional)


  • Figs 4 Fun: Mission Figs
  • California Rare Fruit Growers: Fig
  • Texas A&M: Figs
  • University of California Davis: Fresh Figs
Keywords: black mission figs, fig tree care, prune mission fig

About this Author

Based in Northern California, Elton Dunn is a freelance writer and nonprofit consultant with 14 years' experience. Dunn specializes in travel, food, business, gardening, education and the legal fields. His work has appeared in various print and online publications. Dunn holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English.