Fig fruit trees usually grow between 10 and 30 feet tall. They have muscular, twisting branches that tend to grow into a wide canopy. The wood can be weak, though, and becomes decayed quickly. The fig crop ripens twice a year--in the spring and the fall. Fig fruit trees can be trained into a tree with a low canopy, or a multiple-branched shrub. Pruning them in the early years is essential to successful growth. It also makes them healthier.
Prune fig fruit trees after the fruit is harvested. California Rare Fruit Growers, Inc. suggests that if you have a late crop, you should consider pruning half the branches in the summer and the remaining branches the following summer. According to Brian's Garden and Wegman's Nursery, however, the trees can also be pruned in the dormant (winter) season.
Saw or clip off all branches, except for three or four, during the fruit tree's first year of growth. Leave behind lateral branches that face opposite directions on the trunk, about 6 to 12 inches apart, with angles greater than 45 degrees.
Cut branches where they connect to other branches or the trunk. Look for the collar, which is the flared-out section of bark at the base of the branch. This is where tissue will re-grow and heal the wound.
Clip off the top half-inch of growth on new branches that have grown too long. Pinch them back in the summer in order to promote branch development.
Remove damaged, diseased and broken limbs right away because they are blocking sunlight and air from getting to other branches inside the fig fruit tree's canopy.
Thin out crowded branches, crossing branches and those that are rubbing up against one another. Cut them at their point of origin.