pruning young fig tree

aadepaMarch 9, 2012

Hi all,

about 2 or 3 years ago i purchased a dwarf fig, la petite negra, online. I live in a climate with cool winters so i keep it potted, and winter it in the basement. This year, after the new leaves started to emerge, i noticed that with the new growth the plant is maybe 2.5 to 3 feet tall. However, it is just a single stem with no branches and leaves growing only at the top. I've seen other posts about pruning to encourage branching, but in those cases the tree already had branches. What is the proper pruning for a younger tree like this, so that I can encourage nice branch growth while it is still relatively small? I will post pictures later, but if it is necessary to know, i noticed some little figs growing at the junction between last year's old growth and the start of the new growth. Thanks in advance.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


Decide how tall you would like the main stem, and whether you want a multi-branching bush shape, or, a single-stem "tree" shape. The single-stem is easier to move around and takes up less room when stored away for winter.

Let the tree start to grow in the normal fashion, and fertilize, and water as needed. You may get new branches this year, but if you don't, when the tree is approximately as tall as you would like it to be, cut back the main stem about 6"-8" below this point, or pinch out the terminal bud on the main leader. This will induce lower, older, dormant buds to break, and grow, becoming your new branches. Figs break new buds usually just below a recent cut. Let the buds that are growing in the desired positions remain, and rub out any buds that are not needed, and do this even on the new branchlets. By the end of this growing season you should have a nice tree, with the basic branch structure that you want. My trees are trained as single-stem standards, with a clear main stem, then branching at the top, for a total height of about 6' -61/2' tall. I grow them in 25 gallon pots that are put on dollies so I can roll them around.

Search this forum for more advanced pruning techniques. After establishing the basic structure it's much easier to control new growth by selective pinching rather than hard pruning.

It's easy. Try rooting what you cut away...give your friends some fig trees as gifts.

hope this might help solve your problems.


    Bookmark   March 13, 2012 at 7:11AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

2 pictures of the tree. hope this works.

Here is a link that might be useful: fig tree

    Bookmark   March 13, 2012 at 9:53AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

ok, the pictures didnt come up like i thought they would. If you right click and choose view image it will open it up. if not, here's the links

And thanks Bronx. I am looking for a single stem shape for the very reasons you mentioned. Right now it is in a small pot (probably the last year in it), but I am going to try and keep it "dwarf" if possible. I'm in Missouri so would it be too late to try and prune to force branch growth or should I wait till the winter or early spring before it starts growing again to do so? It's about my ideal height now, at almost 3 feet, so should i pinch the top of the main (only) stem now or wait? I really appreciate it

    Bookmark   March 13, 2012 at 10:06AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Sorry for the late reply....I just read your additional postings.

First, before you do anything, go to YOU-TUBE and search for fig tree pruning/training/planting videos. You'll be surprised at the information that you can view.

Second,...if/when you pinch out the terminal bud, at the top of the main-stem, you will encourage dormant buds to break below this point, which will then become the new branches. These branches will be trained to to grow upwards, and will increase the total height of the "tree". These new branches will also eventually be pinched back to encourage more buds to break. You'll have a nice rack of new fruiting branches in no time at all.

This will be a work-in-progress, and you may not get too many figs while this training is being done to establish the basic framework of your future tree. But figs grow on new wood, so you may get a few this year....maybe.

You say you are located in Missouri. Your tree should still be dormant. If it is dormant, it will not be too late to start to prune, but I would wait until the tree starts to grow for this season, and see if buds start to break along the main-stem, and to make sure your terminal bud is still alive and growing. I'd let the plant take off for at least a month, and put on some growth before pinching/pruning. Fertilize, and let the tree grow so you can see what and where to prune. You don't mention how big a pot the "tree" is growing in, but now, while the tree is still dormant, is the time to do a re-pot, using the correct, quick-draining mix. Growing figs in containers is vastly different than growing trees that are planted into the ground. Search this forum for growing figs in containers.

I hope this gives you some idea about what to do when training a Fig tree.

There's also plenty of prior postings on this forum about training fig trees. Once you establish the basic structure of your tree, keeping it productive and in control is very easy.

Good luck.


    Bookmark   March 16, 2012 at 7:26AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I will take a look at the videos. Thanks.

And yeah, it should be dormant but i guess it was so warm out here that it has already exploded with new growth (those pictures are from last week). I had it in a dark cool basement all winter but by the end of Feb it already had a big new growth spike and leaves coming in, so i moved it upstairs to be in the sun.

I think it is currently in a 6 inch pot, but will likely upgrade at the end of this season given its large growth this year.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2012 at 11:43AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


A 6" pot!....Shift that treelet into a 5 gallon bucket -making sure there are drainage holes- and let that treelet grow out for this season, and see what develops. A cheap dolly is perfect for moving such a small container around if it gets too heavy. You don't mention what climate zone you're in, but watch out for very cold night-time temps. blasting the new, tender growth...a frozen tree will self-prune down to the ground!

Have fun growing figs.


    Bookmark   March 17, 2012 at 6:21AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Should I prune this?
Hi, Northeast LA. Sunset 20, zone 10 I just transplanted...
Matthew Grayson
site and variety selection
hi, all, I'm new to California and am excited to try...
Cincinnati, OH Hardy chicago fig Hardy chicago fig 2015
The picture below is carried over from last year. Hardy...
Steve, Z (6Bground,5B roof) Cincy,OH
Help please!!!
I badly need your help .why do the leaves curl and...
Kimmy Jane Santiago
rootless cuttings are producing buds
March. Zone 9b. Small bare tree in pot. Black Mission. Five...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™