There are many different species and varieties of ficus trees. Ficus trees are generally indoor, potted trees that challenge a gardener with their growing behaviors and needs. Under the proper conditions, ficus trees may grow up to 40 feet tall. Gardeners who grow ficus trees in a container will typically have much smaller versions of the ficus tree to maintain and care for. When a ficus tree begins to grow new leafy shoots, a gardener must prune the ficus tree to remove dead branches, maintain the shape of the tree and help it grow properly.
Look at the ficus tree carefully with attention to detail. Visualize the tree as you want it to look after you finish pruning. Notice where the tree branches are crowded or are crossing each other. Notice any branches that are dead or are broken. Notice branches that are growing at angles toward the center of the tree instead of outward from the center. Find branches that are growing out from the sides of the tree that make the tree appear overgrown or unshapely.
Use the bypass pruners to remove all of the dead and broken small twigs and branches on the inside of the tree. This will help to open the center area of the tree and allow more light to reach the branches. Cut off the dead and broken branches back to a point where there is healthy growth.
Trim with the bypass pruners (for branches under ½-inch in diameter) or trim with the lopper (for branches under 2 inches in diameter), moving to the outside perimeter of the tree. Remove as much as 1/3 of the tree from the top and sides. This will reduce the size of the tree temporarily and will encourage it to grow stronger and fuller. Cut back to just above lateral buds (lower buds on a branch) whenever possible. This will help to deter disease and will encourage these lateral buds to move into the strong terminal bud (leading bud) position. Terminal buds grow faster and stronger than lateral buds.
Shape the tree by removing any branches that are growing at odd angles. Trim these odd branches off at the center of the tree to encourage new growth from the center.