The Q&A Archives: Pruning Figs

Question: I purchased a "fig bush" 2 years ago. I live in the high desert. The first year when the first frost came, it died back. The second year to my surprise it came back bearing 2 figs. It sent out branches below the dead trunk. This is its 3rd year and its bearing more figs and it quite bushy. It is a very healthy bush. My question is that I want to trim it. The bush has many branches are close to the ground. When do I trim it back? How do I trim it back without killing it. Dolores Sapp Rosamond, CA

Answer: We covered figs in the July/August '96 issue of National Gardening Magazine, so it's relatively fresh in my mind. Since it sounds like getting the shrub in shape takes priority over fruit production at this point, I'll start with that. In late fall or winter, cut back stems to their bases, thinning growth to the desired shape. Remove the obvious branches first (those that are broken, weak or crowded). The shrub should produce fall fruit. Once the fig is in shape, you can prune to encourage fruiting when you want it. Prune in the fall/winter period for fall production, or prune a little in both fall and summer to get a little in each season. Some folks don't prune at all and get two full crops. I leave it up to you! If frost and hard winters are an annual event in your area, protect your fig with burlap wraps after leaves have fallen. Hope this helps! Most figs can produce two crops of fruit per year, one on previous season's growth and on the new growth of the current season.

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