How do I prune a mature Celeste Fig tree?

redhairingAugust 11, 2012

Hi- I have a fifteen year old single trunked Celeste fig that is 25 to 30' tall and wide. My pruning in the past has consisted of shaping the tree, other than removing small dead

branches. Basically, I remove crossing branches and any branch that grows downward other than up. The tree is beautiful, healthy, and loaded with problem is that the tree is outgrowing my small yard.Can I cut back hard on the ends of large branches? Will it grow back in an unattractive way like the crepe "murdered" myrtle trees that my neighbors prune? How much larger can my tree grow if left alone? Help!

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I understand how daunting pruning an overgrown fig tree can be. But, you are in luck. There have been a number of recent threads that cover this very topic. Search this forum, and you will see plenty of photos of hard-pruned fig trees.

Also, You-Tube has some pruning videos.

You will need a good, tree-pruning saw to establish the basic structure of the tree. I would not be too worried about "murdering" this fig tree, as they do with crepe myrtles. But you will have to decide where to make those initial pruning cuts to prevent this. You already know the basics of pruning.

If you can, post some photos of the tree, and maybe forum members will suggest places for the pruning cuts. You have plenty of time. Major pruning should be done in the Spring, before tree breaks dormancy. You will also want to do this, gradually, over a number of years.

Even if you screw up...and I am sure you will not...the tree will put out so much new wood that you will never know within a few seasons. Figs are one of the few trees that can be drastically pruned back, with few worries. It's done all the time to control rampant growth.

Good luck.


    Bookmark   August 11, 2012 at 8:03PM
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Frank- What a great and helpful response. I will take pictures and post.The trunk is huge and the limbs are high enough so that you can walk underneath the canopy. I think it's the most beautiful fig tree I've ever seen...and even more so in winter. I'll study the youtube videos before I bring out the pruning saw in the spring. The height is no problem- just need to bring the width in about 3-5 feet off of mine and my very nice neighbors house! Thank god she likes figs!!! thanks again!!!!

    Bookmark   August 12, 2012 at 9:08PM
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Had a friend who had the job of raking up the hundreds of fallen figs from underneath his aged mother-in-law's tree. She was old. Tree was old. Nobody wanted the figs or to pick them up. One summer he decided to prune it to death. He said he cut the thing to a small stump. The next year it dropped more figs than ever!

    Bookmark   August 18, 2012 at 11:00AM
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