Chinese red fig trees, often called Pistacia chinensis or Chinese pistache, can be left to grow naturally if so desired. However, you may want to prune your tree for aesthetic reasons or to keep lower branches from touching the ground, which can lead to spoiled fruit on orchard-sized trees. Pruning Chinese red figs is not much different than pruning other fig trees. Even if you are allowing your fig to assume its natural shape, your tree will be healthier if you regularly remove deadwood.
Remove any deadwood in your Chinese red fig. Use sharp pruning shears on smaller branches and a pruning saw on larger ones. Deadwood can be removed at any time.
Take out any branches that are rubbing on or interfering with larger fruiting branches. Live wood pruning should be done just after the main crop has been picked. Try not to do heavy pruning in the winter as this can adversely affect the harvest the following year. Cut the branches fairly close to the trunk, but make sure you leave about 1/2 inch of the branch in place. This will help you avoid cutting into the trunk itself.
Take off any branches closer to the ground than 2 feet. If this is your fig's first year, cut off all but three or four of the largest, best placed branches. This will allow the tree to fill in and provide better yields in subsequent years.
Pinch back overly long new stems in the summer by removing about a half inch from the end of the branch. This will help to ensure a well-balanced tree with healthy branches.
Regularly remove any new branches that sprout closer than around 2 feet to the ground. Even mature figs sometimes try to put out branches near the bottom of the tree.