Given proper care, plenty of sunshine, and enough soil to expand its root ball, your fiddle leaf fig will grow quickly. Healthy plants may grow several inches or even a few feet each year. They can get lopsided or too big for their location in a hurry. Pruning will keep your plant healthy, balanced, and a good size for its location. Below is your guide to properly pruning your fiddle leaf fig plant.
Table of Contents
The Benefits of Pruning
Pruning your plant is essential for keeping it healthy and looking well, just like grooming your dog or cat. Pruning your fiddle leaf fig keeps it healthy and reduces unwanted growth. There are several reasons you will want to prune your plant.
Remove Damaged Leaves and Stems
Regularly remove damaged leaves and stems by pruning. Any leaves with large brown spots or holes can safely be removed to improve the overall health of your plant. An injured or sick leaf drains the resources of your plant and can spread an infection. When you notice damaged or sick leaves, remove them quickly any time of year.
Keep Your Plant From Getting Too Tall
Healthy fiddle leaf fig plants can aggressively grow toward the sun, which means they may get too large or tall for their location. Plants look best when their top leaves are at least 8 to 10 inches below the ceiling, so you will want to remove any growth above that height. By pruning your plant to keep it from getting too tall, you’ll create a stronger and more compact plant.
Give Your Plant Balance
Depending on where your plant is getting its light, it may grow sideways toward the nearest window, which can leave your plant lopsided or off balance. To prevent this, it’s important to rotate your plant regularly so it grows symmetrically. Plants can still get off balance, and pruning will help keep growth from getting lopsided.
Decrease Crowded Areas
Fiddle leaf fig leaves need airflow and space to be healthy. If your plant gets too compact and crowded, the leaves can suffer damage from rubbing against each other. You’ll want to thin crowded areas by pruning.
Shape Your Plant
Grown indoors, fiddle leaf fig plants can take on unusual shapes because of their limited access to sunlight. Instead of growing straight up toward the sun like they would outdoors, they may grow sideways.
Additionally, in the wild, the lower leaves will fall off due to lack of sunlight. But inside, lower leaves may still get plenty of light and remain on the plant. This can ruin the tree-like shape many people strive for. In order to shape your plant to look best for its location, you’ll want to remove lower leaves and branches that are growing too wide.
Before You Begin
The best time to prune your fiddle leaf fig is in the spring when there will be plenty of light to fuel recovery and new growth. Try to prune in the spring or early summer. You’ll want to get a sharp pair of pruning shears because dull tools or scissors can crush the stems and damage your plant.
Before you begin, be sure to put down an old sheet or a drop cloth, as each cut will bleed a sticky sap that can damage your floor and irritate skin. Next, you’ll want to clean and disinfect your tools, as germs on your tools can infect your plant. Run your shears through the dishwasher or thoroughly wash and dry with soap and water before you begin pruning.
Pruning Your Fiddle Leaf Fig
Shaping your fiddle leaf fig is a lot like sculpting a masterpiece; you will want to have a vision of your end goal in mind before you begin. Be careful to think before you cut, as you cannot undo a severed branch. I find it’s helpful to mark all the branches you’d like to remove with colored tape or a Post-it Note before you start, which helps make sure the leftover foliage looks balanced. Go slowly at first, and never remove more than 10% of your plant at once to reduce the risk of shock.
Decide on Your Ideal Shape
There are two general shapes of fiddle leaf fig plants: a bush shape and a tree shape. Smaller plants tend to be bushier, and larger plants tend to be more tree-shaped. As your small plant grows, you may want to begin to shape it into a tree. Decide if you’re trying to prune your plant toward a proper tree shape or keep it as a compact bush shape.
Plan to Remove Damaged Leaves or Branches
Assess the overall health of each branch and group of leaves so that you can plan to remove the least healthy areas of your plant first. If there are leaves with brown spots or branches with smaller leaf growth, mark those areas for removal.
Remove Crossing Branches
If you have tightly crowded branches, you’ll want to remove some areas to provide improved airflow and reduce crowding. Any branches that touch each other should be addressed, as well as leaves that are impeding each other’s growth.
Create Your Ideal Shape
Plan to remove any growth that is within 8 to 10 inches of the ceiling or surrounding walls and furniture. Then remove growth that does not fit within your ideal shape.
If you’re going for a tree-like shape, you’ll want to remove lower leaves and branches to reveal a proper trunk. If your plant is off balance, you’ll want to remove gangly or unsightly growth to create an attractive overall shape.
How to Make Your Cuts
Once you’ve marked the areas you’d like to remove and have verified that you are happy with the final shape, it’s time to prune. Use a sharp, clean tool to prune your plant and be sure that the cutting motion is not crushing or damaging the stem.
Make each cut about half an inch from any leaves or the trunk. This allows your plant to properly heal without risk of infection to the main trunk or any remaining leaves. Remove and dispose of any dropped leaves or debris to keep germs and infections from spreading.
New Growth After Pruning
Generally, if your plant is in good health, it will split its branch where it has been pruned, resulting in two branches where one used to be. This eventually gives the appearance of a fuller and healthier plant. However, if your plant is suffering or not getting enough light, it may only continue to grow one branch where it was cut. To encourage more growth, give access to plenty of light after pruning.
Fertilize After Pruning
To help your plant heal from the trauma of pruning and to encourage new growth, be sure to fertilize your plant regularly after pruning. (Not sure what fertilizer is best for your fiddle leaf fig? Try our Plant Food!) You should see new growth within a few weeks to a month after pruning your plant.
Because removing excess branches from your plant gives you access to stem cuttings, many people like to attempt to propagate their fiddle leaf fig at this time. If you are planning to use your pruned clippings for propagation, follow the steps in this propagation guide to learn more.
How to Prune Your Fiddle Leaf Fig Video
To learn more about how to encourage your fiddle leaf fig to grow new branches, watch the Fiddle Leaf Fig Notching Tutorial. If you’re eager for even more helpful information, sign up for our free Fiddle Leaf Fig Care 101 Webinar or enroll in our free Fiddle Leaf Fig Course for advanced fiddle leaf fig care!
If you would like to see a photo timeline of how fast a fiddle leaf fig grows, be sure to read this post.
Essentials for Your Fiddle Leaf Fig:
- Premium Fiddle Leaf Fig Potting Soil
- Houseplant Leaf Armor to protect against insects, bacteria, and fungus (As an added bonus, it also cleans and adds shine to your plant’s leaves!)
- Root Rot Treatment
For More Information:
- Join the Fiddle Leaf Fig Club, download The Ultimate Watering Guide, and ask the Fiddle Leaf Fig Doctor a question!
- Read The Fiddle Leaf Fig Expert, your complete guide to growing healthy fiddle leaf fig plants. The book is available in full-color paperback or Kindle edition on Amazon now!
- Click to join our community on Facebook: Fiddle Leaf Fig Plant Resource Group.