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How to Trim a Ficus Tree

By D.C. Winston ; Updated September 21, 2017
Ficus benjamina tree.

Whether you are growing a ficus tree indoors or outside in the garden they are simple and easy to trim and maintain. Ficus trees have a naturally attractive upright shape with elegantly arching branches and leaves. They can be maintained in their natural form, controlled for size or manicured with shears for a topiary or hedge effect. Household garden tools can quickly help you to execute any of these pruning styles on your ficus.

Maintenance trim your ficus as needed to control its shape, height and spread as needed. Inspect for and trim away any damaged, diseased or dead branches and foliage with your secateurs when you spot them. Make your cuts outside of the branch collar when cutting a main branch to inhibit the introduction of disease.

Shape your ficus tree by trimming off the tips of individual branches with long blade loppers or shears. Determine a shape and size for your ficus and then work around the tree as you make your cuts to preserve its symmetry and achieve a polished finished look. Between each few cuts pause and step back from the tree to ensure that you like the look you are creating.

Shear off the ficus leaves and branch tips with scissor-style shears or an electric hedge trimmer that works somewhat like a chain saw. When creating angular hedging and topiary from ficus long bladed tools are what you need to create flat precise planes of greenery. Work around the ficus tree evenly to maintain a balanced look and again step away periodically to see your progress in the larger context to avoid errors.


Things You Will Need

  • Secateurs or scissors
  • Long handled manual shears
  • Electric shears


  • If you make a mistake and cut away too much in one spot or create a hole in the tree canopy, stop trimming. Do not cut the rest of the tree to match the mistake but allow the tree to leaf out again at the spot and in a few months the mistake most likely will not be visible.