How and When to Prune Figs - Knowledgebase Question

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


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Answer from NGA
November 1, 1999

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The following info was taken from an article on figs in National Garden magazine. The rest of the article can be found at http://208.156.226.50/articled...

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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