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How to Prune a Fiddle Leaf Fig Plant That's Too Tall

The fiddle leaf fig is a type of houseplant from the ficus family. The name comes from the thick violin-shaped leaves that grow off the plant’s woody stems. Like other species of ficus, these plants like a lot of light, minimal water and they don’t do well with sudden changes in environment. Fiddle leaf fig plants are sold as trees or bushes. Although they are slow-growing, they can grow up to 6 feet wide and 12 feet tall, so pruning them once a year is necessary to keep the desired size and shape.

Wear gloves and an old long sleeved shirt, especially if you are allergic to latex. When cut, the fiddle leaf fig plant oozes a white rubbery sap similar to latex that can cause an allergic reaction. Even if you are not allergic to latex, it’s best to keep the sap off your skin because it can be hard to remove.

Spread newspapers on the floor and over furniture near the plant. The rubbery sap is very hard to clean off if it drips onto a surface. If some drops land somewhere, wipe them gently with rubbing alcohol to remove them.

Set some newspapers aside to place the cuttings from the plant on. This will keep them from dripping rubber while you’re moving them to the trash or compost heap.

Use very sharp, strong pruning shears or clippers so you don’t smash the stems while cutting them. Dab the cut stems with a wet tissue immediately after cutting. This will prevent the sap from dripping and help the stem heal faster.

Prune the fiddle leaf fig in the spring to remove any dead or dying growth and unwanted new growth.

Cut the main stem to the desired height. It’s best to do this when the plant is young because it will encourage more branches and bushier growth. If the main stem is left un-cut, it will grow tall and leggy and need support to keep from falling over. Make the cut at an angle, between two leaf nodes.

Cut back any branches that are growing too wide for your taste. Cut the branches at an angle, near a leaf node.

Remove any unhealthy leaves and branches. Wrap the cuttings up in newspaper to dispose of them, and water the plant after pruning.

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