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How to Cut Back a Fig Tree

By Kelly Shetsky ; Updated September 21, 2017

Fig trees are deciduous, muscular specimens that can grow up to 50 feet tall. They typically stay between 10 and 30 feet tall. However, the fig tree's spread is even wider than that, making it important to space out trees in the landscape. Cutting back a mature fig tree isn't necessary--it'll grow either way. However, training a young fig tree will result in better fruit quality.

Cut back newly planted fig trees by one half. This will direct all the energy and nutrients to developing a stronger root system.

Choose four to six of the healthiest fig tree branches in the first winter. They should be spaced out around the central tree trunk. Cut off the rest of the branches where they meet the trunk.

Remove branches that grow in competition with the selected branches. Cut them at the V-shaped connection they share with the central branch.

Target limbs and branches that are growing off the main, selected branches. If they have angles that are more than 45 degrees, keep them in place because they will be strong enough to hold fruit. Cut back those that have angles less than 45 degrees from the main branches. These branches will grow too close to the tree trunk and be unproductive.

Snip off suckers that grow from the bottom of the tree or from the roots beneath the fig tree. They are also called water sprouts. The suckers steal energy, water and nutrients from the rest of the tree.

Remove diseased, dead or damaged limbs and branches as soon as you notice them. These also take nutrients from the tree and its fruit.

Prune 1/3 to 1/4 of the fig tree's branches annually. This will cause new growth to sprout and make the fruit sweeter and larger next season.

 

Things You Will Need

  • Gloves
  • Pruning shears

Tip

  • Keep your pruning shears sharp.

About the Author

 

Based in New York State, Kelly Shetsky started writing in 1999. She is a broadcast journalist-turned Director of Marketing and Public Relations and has experience researching, writing, producing and reporting. She writes for several websites, specializing in gardening, medical, health and fitness, entertainment and travel. Shetsky has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Marist College.