How and When to Prune Figs - Knowledgebase Question

Spartanburg, SC
Avatar for jamesornie
Question by jamesornie
November 1, 1999
How and when to prune a fig tree.

Answer from NGA
November 1, 1999
The following info was taken from an article on figs in National Garden magazine. The rest of the article can be found at

Most figs can produce fruit on both the previous season's growth (1-year-old wood) and the growth of the current season. The crop from last year's growth matures in summer; the crop from the current season matures in fall.
What this means to the pruner is simple: 1) Prune in late fall or winter (spring in cold-winter regions) and you'll just get the fall crop; 2) never prune and you'll harvest two crops; and 3) judicious pruning in both winter and summer will allow some of both crops - summer and fall.

Most often prune by making "thinning" cuts, not "heading" cuts. Thinning means cutting stems or shoots completely to their bases; heading cuts leave some portion of the stem or shoot. Prune by thinning to whatever shape you desire and some fruit will follow.

Fig trees ooze a white latex sap from pruning cuts. This sap contains an irritant called ficin that can cause dermatitis. Wear gloves, a long-sleeved shirt, full-length pants, a hat, and full-coverage eye goggles (not just glasses) when pruning fig trees, then wash thoroughly afterward.

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