The Q&A Archives: fig tree problem

Question: I have a 2 year old fig tree I'm trying to espalier. I have 2 horizontal branches at the top of the trellis and one on the next tier down. Can't get any more side shoots. If I cut off the tree even with the top of the trellis and remove the 3 horizontal branches this winter, will I ruin my tree or will I get good side shoots next spring so i can espalier?

Thanks for any help.

Gary Rose

Answer: Wait until this winter and then pinch or snip off the top of the central leader. Don't remove the horizontal branches. You can try notching the central leader to induce lateral branching. It takes time to train a tree so don't be impatient with your fig. You can encourage longer growth of the lateral branches by allowing the tips of the branches to grow upward rather than tying them horizontally. (Has to do with growth hormones in the growing tip of the branch.) The best thing about growing fig trees is that they will take any amount of pruning during the winter months. If yours doesn't grow exactly in the formation you're hoping for you can cut the tree down to the bottom of the trellis and start all over. Hope this information is helpful!

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