How to prune your Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree

Last Updated: March 22, 2023

Fiddle Leaf Fig Trees are some of the most popular houseplants, and we can totally understand why. With their luscious dark green leaves, they really do become the centrepiece of any room! One part of houseplant care that is often forgotten is pruning and with Fiddle Leaf Fig Trees it’s a pretty important part of keeping them healthy and in the right shape.

In this article, we will be exploring the benefits of pruning your Fiddle and what steps you need to take to make sure it’s a success. We will also be answering all of your questions at the end of the article!

Why should I prune my Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree?

There are a few reasons why you might want to prune your Fiddle back a little, some optional and some extremely recommended. Pruning can often be to shape your tree for personal taste, but also often to keep your plant looking and feeling healthy.

Removing damaged leaves

However well you look after your Fiddle Leaf Fig, sometimes they may have a few leaves that turn a little brown, or stems that aren’t super healthy. Make sure to figure out the cause of the problem and adjust the environment or your care straight away. Once you have solved the problem, you may want to trim away the dead parts of your Fiddle carefully so that no energy is wasted on trying to revive these dying leaves. 

Control the shape and size of your Fiddle

Whether due to personal taste, or the size of the environment, you may want to prune your plant a little every so often to keep it in a certain shape or size. Although Fiddle Leaf Fig Trees aren’t the fastest-growing houseplants out there, they can begin to dominate a room in a few years so if you don’t have much space for your plant, then pruning is a good way to keep it tamed.

Keep your Fiddle balanced

Although you might want your plant to grow straight up, they often have a mind of their own. They will always start to follow the sunlight and will start to grow towards the nearest window. This can often mean that your Fiddle starts to become lopsided so you might want to reshape your plant to keep it upright. Fiddle Leaf Fig Trees can become pretty heavy as they mature so this minimizes the risk of it falling over.

Reduce leaf crowding

Leaf crowing can sometimes harm your Fiddle’s health as the leaves like space and airflow. The leaves can sometimes rub up against each other a lot if there is too much crowding, so removing a few leaves can be a really good idea for bushy areas.

Promotes more growth

If your Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree has become quite leggy, then pruning can be an excellent way to promote bushy growth. Whenever you make a stem cutting at a node, two branches will grow out from where you made the cut. This gives you a lot of power over creating a bushier and fuller Fiddle Leaf.

When is the best time to prune a Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree?

Best time of year to prune

It is ideal if you can wait until early spring or summer to prune your Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree. You want there to be enough light for the weeks/months after the pruning so it can develop healthy and steady growth. It will also allow you to propagate any cuttings a lot more successfully than if you were trying to do that in winter. 

Removing sections with issues

If you are simply removing a brown leaf or a dying part of your Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree, then it’s perfectly fine to do this all year round.

What will I need to prune my Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree?

  • A sharp pair of pruning shears.

    It’s really really important that the shears are sharp as Fiddles have very thick stems. Blunt and dull tools will harm the stem and leaves when you are cutting. Oh and make sure they are clean too as you don’t want to infect your plant when cutting into it. 

  • Newspaper/plastic sheet to protect your floors.

    This isn’t only to collect any soil or debris but also to avoid getting any of the sap from the stems on your floor as it can cause damage. 

  • Gardening gloves.

    These are important as the sap that will leak from the stem when you take the cutting is mildly toxic to humans and can cause skin and eye irritation if you come into contact with it. 

How to prune a Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree: Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Decide how much to prune 

    Before you make any cuts, make sure you know exactly where on your Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree you want to cut. Making a mark using a pen can help figure out what’s best as once you’ve made the cut there is no going back. 

    Because Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree are quite slow growers (in comparison to a lot of other plant types), we don’t recommend cutting much more than desired. With some other houseplants that grow a lot quicker, we tend to recommend cutting off a bit more to leave room for it to grow. Otherwise, you’ll be right back at it in a few months. 

  2. Make the cut(s)

    Use your shears to make one or several cuts across your Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree. It’s important that the cuts aren’t rough as this can damage the stem and impact the success of any new branches growing out from the cut.

  3. Put any cuttings in water to propagate them 

    If you do want to propagate any of the stem cuttings you’ve taken, pop these into a clear container with fresh water. If you have only removed single leaves, then you won’t be able to propagate them as each cutting needs a node. Sometimes single leaves will grow some roots but that will not turn into a new plant. Check out our Fiddle Leaf Fig Propagation Guide for more information. 

Caring for your Fiddle Leaf Fig after pruning

Once the seemingly hard bit is out of the way, you need to make sure that you keep an eye on how your Fiddle is recovering and check up on any new growth. If your Fiddle is healthy, it should split its new branch where it has been cut to create two offshoots. 

However, if there is only one, don’t worry too much as this is usually only a sign that it is not getting enough sunlight to produce more growth. Make sure that your plant is getting good levels of indirect sunshine to encourage new healthy growth. We also recommend fertilizing your Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree a few weeks after pruning (not before) to encourage new healthy growth.

Our tips and tricks for a successful pruning

  • Never remove more than 10% of the plant

    This is quite important especially if your Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree isn’t that mature yet. You don’t want to go overboard and cut too much off as it may struggle to revive itself without enough leaves to take in sunlight.

  • Remove the least healthy areas first 

    You want to try and make sure that you start by pruning the least healthy leaves first. You don’t want to snip away too many luscious leaves only to be left with slightly yellowing and underdeveloped leaves which will struggle to keep your plant alive. 

  • Propagate the stem cuttings

    Instead of throwing the stem cuttings away, propagate them to create more Fiddle Leaf Figs. Put the stem cuttings in water and after a month or two they should form new roots and be ready for planting! If you have only removed leaves, you won’t, unfortunately, be able to propagate them as they need to have a node for new growth to develop from.

Frequently Asked Questions

That’s everything you need to know to successfully prune a Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree! Whilst it’s not something you need to pay constant attention to as you would with watering for example, pruning in the right way, at the right time is a key part of plant care. Although you might find it daunting to make any cuts to your Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree, it can actually be super beneficial to promoting an abundance of healthy growth on your plant. 

To learn more about keeping your plant happy and healthy, check out our Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree care guide.

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