How to Trim a Potted Ficus Tree

A nicely-pruned ficus tree. image by Jim Gober


Ficus (Ficus benjamina), or weeping fig, is a popular houseplant that grows best in a sunny, draft-free location. Unlike other houseplants, the ficus tree prefers to be root bound. For this reason, a ficus tree can grow 6 to 8 feet tall and 4 to 5 feet wide while planted in a pot that's small relative to its size. A fast grower, ficus trees need frequent pruning to keep a natural, tree-like form. Pruning also allows light to reach the inner leaves and branches.

Step 1

Stand back from the potted ficus tree and decide what limbs can be trimmed to give the plant a natural, tree-like shape. Look for limbs that interfere with foot traffic as well as limbs that are growing against a wall or window that should be removed.

Step 2

Prune unruly branches back to the main trunk or main stem. If you are cutting a limb to limit the spread of the plant, cut the limb back to a "Y" where another limb is growing upward to train the growth upwards instead of outwards. This helps the plant retain a natural shape. Cut limbs back to the natural collar where the limbs meet; don't cut flush against a main stem, as this will delay the natural healing process. Stand back and examine your progress after each cut.

Step 3

Trim out dead and spindly growth from around the trunk and main limbs.

Step 4

When trimming a potted ficus tree to bring up the bottom of the canopy, trim the ends of the limbs back to an upward-growing branch or "node," as described in step 2. Removing an entire limb may leave an empty space in the side of the canopy.

Step 5

After trimming, water, apply a diluted fertilizer and add more potting soil, if needed.

Tips and Warnings

  • Ficus trees "weep" a white latex substance from wounds caused by pruning that can stain some floors and cause a minor allergic reaction in some people.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Safety glasses
  • Light work gloves


  • Ficus Tree Care
  • Pruning Ficus Benjamina
  • Friendly Ficus
Keywords: trimming ficus tree, pruning ficus tree, ficus tree

About this Author

Based in Rockdale Texas, Jim Gober has been writing garden-related articles for 25 years. His articles appear in several Texas newspapers including The Rockdale Reporter, The Lexington Leader, The Cameron Herald and The Hearne Democrat. He is a Master Gardener and Certified Texas Nursery and Landscape Professional. He holds bachelor degrees in English Writing from St. Edward's University and Finance from Lamar University.

Photo by: Jim Gober