Ficus Pruning - Knowledgebase Question

Mountain View, CA
Question by MSmith4478
September 18, 1998
My ficus is getting very bushy. It has many branches and I would like to prune it but I don't want to kill it.
I have trimmed back some of the smaller growth but I am afraid to remove any of the larger trunks.
Here is my question: Am I in danger of killing the ficus by removing all but one trunk? Any tips would be greatly appreciated.


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Answer from NGA
September 18, 1998

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There are so many species of Ficus, that it's difficult to answer your question. The Ficus that grows outdoors in California is native to India, and takes the form of a large shrub or small tree, which can be shaped with annual pruning. If this is the type of Ficus you're growing, you can pinch out the tips of the branches to keep it in shape, and remove all but one trunk if you want a single-trunked tree. These are hardy plants and will come back after being killed to the ground by frost. The indoor Ficus (known as the Rubber Tree) is a tough indoor pot plant, and can be cut back at will. It comes back within three months if cut down to the soil level. As with any plant, it's easier on the gardener, as well as the plant, if light pruning is done on a regular basis, rather than waiting until severe pruning is required. Your plant will survive heavy pruning, but pruning will encourage new growth. If you remove all but one trunk, expect growth to come from any stubs you leave. You can keep this growth to a minimum by rubbing out any sprouts as they form.

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