Pruning and Shaping Your Fiddle Leaf Fig Plant to Keep it Healthy
Pruning Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree

Pruning and Shaping Your Fiddle Leaf Fig Plant

Pruning and Shaping Your Fiddle Leaf Fig: Best Tips

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.

Pruning and Shaping Your Fiddle Leaf Fig | 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.

Healthy plants can get lopsided or too big. Pruning and shaping your fiddle leaf fig keeps it healthy, balanced, and a good size.
Pruning the damaged leaves and branches from this fiddle leaf fig could potentially save it.

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.

Keep Your Plant From Getting Too Tall
This plant may look better if it was pruned to give it 8 to 10 inches of space from the ceiling.

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 and shaping your fiddle leaf fig will help keep growth from getting lopsided.

Give Your Plant Balance
Fiddle leaf figs can quickly get lopsided and become unstable without pruning.

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.

Decrease Crowded Areas
This fiddle leaf fig might look better with less crowded leaves and a more balanced shape.

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.

Shape Your Plant
Prune your plant toward a tree shape by removing the lower leaves.

Before You Begin

The best time for pruning and shaping 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.

Fig Shear

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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.

How to Prune Your Fiddle Leaf Fig Video

Pruning Your Fiddle Leaf Fig

Pruning and 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.

Encourage Your Fiddle Leaf Fig to Grow Faster

There are some things you can do to encourage your fiddle leaf fig to grow faster.

Once you have become comfortable with regularly pruning and shaping your fiddle leaf fig, you can move on to propagation.

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.

To learn more about pruning and shaping your fiddle leaf fig and how to encourage your fiddle leaf fig to grow new branches, watch the Fiddle Leaf Fig Notching Tutorial.

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Claire is an expert on growing dozens of varieties of houseplants, especially fiddle leaf fig plants.

As a writer and a fiddle leaf fig lover, she created this resource with the aim for this to be the only resource on fiddle leaf figs that you'll ever need.

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