The fig tree brings a little exoticism to the garden. Above all, however, he pleases the gardener with his good growth traits. The appropriate procedure when pruning the fig tree promotes the branching of the branches, makes the crown appear even fuller and also increases the fruit hanging. But which actions are necessary for this? And when is the right time for pruning and shaping? On this page, gardeners will find instructions with additional tips and tricks for all conceivable types of pruning.

Is a pruning necessary?

Ficus carica does not urgently call for pruning. However, this maintenance measure is definitely recommended. Different types of pruning not only increase the fruit yield, but are especially necessary when

  • the fig tree steals the light from other plants
  • it is bare from the inside because dry branches require energy

Pruning fig tree – timing

The basic care cut takes place in the spring. If possible, the gardener chooses a frost-free, overcast day in February or March. If necessary, pruning is still possible in April. In any case, the gardener should carry out the intervention before sprouting. The reason for this is the growth break of the fig tree in spring. During this time he has the opportunity to fill up his energy reserves and recharge his batteries for fruit formation.

A pruning in the summer, on the other hand, meant that the second harvest in October failed because the gardener robbed the necessary foundations by cutting the branches.
An intervention in autumn is also not advisable, because open interfaces fell victim to the frost.

Tip: The fig tree comes from warm climes and is therefore susceptible to severe sub-zero temperatures. It is not uncommon for frost damage to occur after a cold winter. Superficially, young shoots are affected. By cutting these off, the gardener stimulates his fig tree to sprout again. However, at least one pair of buds should be preserved.

The grooming cut

If the gardener decides to cut Ficus carica, the care cut described here forms the basis on which the other cut types are based. While shaping and rejuvenation cuts have the function of optical preservation, the care cut promotes the vitality of the tree.

  • Cut off thick branches with a saw or pruning shears
  • start with the branches close to the ground
  • only remove branches that hinder each other’s growth
  • Shorten by a third or half as desired
  • then trim the crown
  • Leave two-year-old shoots
  • these later form predominantly fruit
Note: Timing pruning is essential to crop yield. While the two-year-old shoots produce sweet figs in August, the gardener can look forward to fruit on the one-year-old wood again in October.

The fine cut

The instructions above describe the necessary procedure to guarantee a fruit load. Only when the branches have enough space to unfold do they develop the strength needed not to break under the weight of the figs. After cutting off the dead wood and thinning out the crown, the gardener can ensure an attractive appearance with a topiary.

  • Cut young, green shoot tips by half at most
  • Completely remove inward growing branches
  • remove dead and dry branches
  • Prune branches that grow across
  • tear out water shooters
Note: Water shooters should be completely uprooted by the gardener. Merely pruning the sprouts is ineffective as they will start growing again after a short time. An exception applies, however, if the gardener had to remove a supporting branch during the rough cut. In this case, a water shooter is used to breed a new lead branch.

The taper cut

Although an annual cut of the Ficus carica is not absolutely necessary, over time the fig tree threatens to become bare. Anyone who has not pruned for several years and now notices the increasing thinning of the crown has the opportunity to counteract the process with a rejuvenation cut. However, the later the gardener decides to carry out this intervention, the lower the chances of success.

  • Make regeneration pruning in February
  • Cut the fig tree completely to 30 cm
  • leave it alone until next year
  • check whether several strong leading branches form
  • cut them in half
  • remove all shoots close to the ground
  • repeat this process in subsequent years
  • only then proceed to the usual cut
Note: Young fig trees that are in an intensive growth phase are harmed by pruning of any kind. The gardener should only use the scissors when the Ficus carica is fully grown.

When is a radical cut worthwhile?

The gardener can carry out the above measures without hesitation every year. However, an annual radical cut is strongly discouraged. The drastic shortening of the old wood cost the fig tree too much strength. Only when there are signs of balding on the inside can the cut be a little more radical.

Cut back the high stem

High trunks are mostly cultivated and therefore require special attention when caring for them. In contrast to conventional fig trees, other types of pruning are required here:

  • choose a strong branch for the main trunk
  • support it with a wooden stick
  • shorten the remaining shoots to just above the ground
  • Cut off side shoots up to the base of the crown
  • select three leading branches as the base of the crown (preferably at a 45° angle)
  • shorten all other shoots down to the branch ring
Tip: With the right type of cut, fig trees can be ideally integrated into the overall picture of the garden. On the one hand, the gardener succeeds in inhibiting growth in this way. On the other hand, he can even raise the tree as a climbing plant on a trellis.

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