The Q&A Archives: How do I prune a Ficus Tree?

Question: I have a Ficus Tree that is about 10 years old. It is about 7 foot tall and out growing our house. Can you tell me how and when to prune it? I keep it outside all spring and summer and bring it inside in the fall.

Answer: Ficus trees take pruning quite well. You would follow normal pruning instructions for ornamental trees. Shorten new growth tips back to a leaf in the direction you would like to see future growth. Shorten the longest branches by cutting just outside a side branch that heads in the direction you would like the new growth to grow. Do not cut back drastically into thick wood; ideally you would cut back to a branch that is at least one third the diameter (or larger) compared to the one you are cutting. Use a very sharp bypass pruner or pruning saw to make clean cuts. Avoid leaving a stub when you cut, but do leave the branch collar or swelling at the base of the branch. (The collar will grow and heal over the cut.) You could do this in late winter to early spring every year, or periodically remove one or two longer branches throught out the year.

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