How to cut back a ficus tree

How to Prune a Ficus Tree

Ficus trees are gorgeous and very popular. It is therefore not surprising that they make some of the most popular houseplants. Another reason for their popularity is that they are not very difficult to grow: as long as you provide them with some basic nutrients and favorable growing conditions, they will grow strong and healthy.

Ficus Trees Grow Fast

Since Ficus trees grow so readily, even indoors, it means that they will grow a lot. It is not surprising to have a healthy Ficus tree growing very fast in its pot. While this is a great thing for owners who wish to have a big and healthy Ficus in their home, there is one problem: what to do when a Ficus tree outgrows its container?

This is a great thing, since it means that your Ficus tree is thriving and enjoying itself in your home. On the other hand, it creates a potential problem because Ficus plants can quickly outgrow their pot.

Another issue is that Ficus trees do not like to be moved around. It creates a lot of stress for the Ficus, which can make it drop its leaves. In order to prevent this problem and to solve the issue of the Ficus tree becoming too large, it is important to prune your Ficus regularly.

Luckily, your Ficus outgrowing its container will probably happen only on the outside (its leaves). The roots do not grow so fast so you don't need to think about repotting so often. However, regular pruning is one of the basic things you need to master if you wish to grow Ficus plants in your home.

When to Prune Your Ficus?

The main thing you need to know is when to prune your Ficus. It is vital to understand that Ficus trees are not winter hardy. This is why they are generally grown as houseplants and not outdoor plants in the U.S. These plants are native to tropical and subtropical regions of the world so they can be grown successfully outdoors only in the warm climate zones. In case you live outside of the tropical and subtropical regions, chances are that you will grow your Ficus indoors.

One thing to remember about the Ficus trees growing indoors is that their growth is typically slow but steady. This is why it might seem like your Ficus is growing very fast and spreading. This growth can sometimes be so vigorous so the plant becomes very heavy on the ends. It affects the arching shape of the Ficus, which is something you'll want to avoid.

This is one of the main reasons to prune. It is considered a "rejuvenation pruning" because it will enhance the proper branch formation on your plant and make your Ficus tree more compact and visually attractive.

When to prune your Ficus? It is important to trim your plant whenever it comes in contact with the furniture, ceiling or other objects in your home. This is one of the most common reasons for trimming your tree and you will need to do it whenever you see that your Ficus is growing into other objects.

A more substantial pruning, however, needs to be timed properly. Anything more than a little trim here and there needs to be done only when the plant is no longer actively growing. Keep in mind that your Ficus, just like most other plants, is vegetatively active in spring and summer. By fall, the plant slows its growth and in the winter it goes into dormancy. This is when it is much less susceptible to injury and other problems. This is why winter is the best time to prune your Ficus tree.

At the same time, keep in mind that removing dead material can be done any time during the year. You don't have to wait until the winter for this.

Tips for Pruning Your Ficus Tree

Pruning your Ficus tree is not complicated, but you need to work carefully in ordr not to hurt your plant. It is best to use a clean, sharp pair of pruners. Bypass pruners seem to work the best. Also, don't forget to wear a pair of gloves so you don't hurt yourself during pruning. Keep in mind that Ficus plants have a latex sap, which can be irritating to the skin. This is why gloves are a must.

Before pruning, take a good look at your Ficus tree to identify the precise areas that need to be pruned. In case the plant is too tall, this is where you'll start. However, if the problem is simply creating a better silhouette, you need to think a bit to decide where to prune. Deciding where to start cutting might be the most important step.

Once you have identified places to cut it is always important to remove any dead and broken branches first. Do this before you start with proper pruning. This will further help you identify things that need to go and help you decide how to shape your Ficus properly.

Keep in mind that there are some pruning rules you will need to follow. These will help you create a better appearance to your Ficus tree and avoid that the cuts look obvious. The most important rule is to cut just before a growth node. This is needed to ensure that a new growth will sprout there and cover the stump.

Another thing to keep in mind is to remove a branch back to another branch that's one of its size. This is the best way to avid messy stubs. It will also restore the size and beautiful looks of your Ficus.

It is also best to cut at a slant away from the node or secondary branch. This will ensure proper growth and make your Ficus look beautiful.

In case your Ficus tree is very damaged and has a lot of dead growth, it is best to prune away no more than one third of the material. It is always possible to prune more later, once the plant recovers. It is best to wait until your Ficus tree starts re-sprouting. This way, you can make sure that you don't remove any new material.

Photo credit: Andy / Andrew Fogg

How to Trim a Ficus Plant | Home Guides

By SF Gate Contributor Updated November 02, 2021

The varieties of ficus commonly grown as potted plants, such as weeping fig (Ficus Benjamina) and willow leaf fig (Ficus Nerifolia), are best suited to U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 to 11, but are grown around the world as houseplants. A common potted plant in offices, malls and homes, ficus is favored for its attractive dark foliage and its adaptability to the limitations of indoor gardening. Although this is a relatively low-maintenance plant, pruning ficus is a necessary task.

Why to Trim Ficus Plants

Regularly pruning ficus plants keeps them looking tidy and attractive and promotes overall health of the plant. When a ficus sustains any kind of damage such as a pruning cut, thick, sticky white sap seeps from the injury. This is very stressful for the ficus plant. Garden and Happy recommends frequent gentle trimmings much less stressful than waiting to perform a single massive hard pruning when the plant has overgrown its space.

Because pruning ficus plants causes a high level of stress, it's best to never clip off more than 30 percent of the foliage at any one time. Also keep in mind that, according to The Garden Style Master Gardener, using clean, disinfected shears is an absolute must for pruning ficus. Especially if the pruners have been used to cut off decaying or diseased branches, they should be disinfected to prevent the spread of disease to the rest of the tree.


To disinfect pruning shears, mix 1 part bleach to 10 parts water in a plastic container. Soak the blades of the pruners in the solution for 30 minutes. Dry them thoroughly after removing them from the solution.

How to Trim Ficus Plants

Prune Out Dead and Damaged Branches

Locate the branches inside the outer foliage that have died after being shaded. Cut these branches off where they join the main trunk of the tree or where they connect with healthy, growing branches. Cut the branches at a slight angle down the back of the branch being removed.

Trim Out Weak Limbs

Look for other weak or spindly branches in the center of the tree. These branches are being starved of light and lack the room to grow properly. Cut these branches off where they meet the main branches of the plant.

Pruning Out Ugly Growth

Trim back any branches that ruin the shape of the tree. These are branches that grow at an odd angle or away from the growth of the rest of the canopy. Cut these branches back to the main branches or trunk. Cutting off these uneven branches also opens up more room for the healthier branches, giving them more sunlight and increasing the overall health of the tree.

Snip Ends for Fullness

Cut back the ends of the outer branches of the canopy to create a bushier appearance. Cut these branches back to a node, the bump in the branch where other smaller branches and leaves grow from. Cut all of the outer branches back evenly to encourage balanced growth. Pruning ficus growth from only one side of the tree can result in uneven branching.


Make clean cuts when pruning the ficus. Any tearing or ripping of the branches can result in rot and infection taking hold in the wound left after pruning.


  • Garden and Happy: Tips for Keeping Your Ficus Tree Happy and Healthy
  • The Garden Style Master Gardener: How to Prune Ficus Tree – Step By Step


  • If the pruners have been used to cut off decaying or diseased branches, they should be disinfected to prevent the spread of disease to the rest of the tree. Mix 1 part bleach to 10 parts water in a plastic container. Soak the blades of the pruners in the solution for 30 minutes. Dry them thoroughly after removing them from the solution.


  • Make clean cuts when pruning the ficus. Any tearing or ripping of the branches can result in rot and infection taking hold in the wound left after pruning.

How to shape and cut ficus correctly

Quite often in city apartments and offices you can find different types of ficuses. These evergreen broad-leaved plants are popular for their hardiness and beautiful leaves.

In order for the plant to have a beautiful crown and not just stretch up, but form a beautiful bush, ficus pruning is necessary at home, we will talk about this.


Pruning ficus leaves is one of the important steps in plant care. Pruning can serve two purposes:

  • Give the ficus a nice, defined shape.
  • Remove all old and diseased shoots.

Depending on the goal you are pursuing, certain rules must be followed.

When to prune ficus

Ficus bush, like most indoor plants, should be pruned at the very beginning of spring, when the plant wakes up and starts growing. Pruning homemade ficus only stimulates this process and after it the axillary buds wake up, from which young and strong shoots will appear.

It is not recommended to transplant the plant into a new soil and pot at the same time and prune. This will be a strong stress for the ficus. After pruning the ficus, it is advisable to feed the plant.

How to prune ficus correctly

If you want to have a beautiful and well-groomed ficus bush on your windowsill, then pruning should start as early as possible. It is quite difficult to do something with the shape of an already adult plant, the buds, which are located on lignified branches, wake up with great difficulty.

When pruning ficus, some recommendations must be observed:

When cutting ficus shoots, the cut must be made above the bud. If the shoot is thin, then you can cut it straight, and thick branches obliquely. When starting to trim the side branches of the ficus, it is necessary to foresee in which direction the kidney is located, over which it is supposed to make a cut.

If the ficus produces a lot of aerial roots, they should not be removed, but can be sent to the ground as they grow.


In order to form a beautiful and neat ficus bush, pruning should be done as early as possible.

The whole process of ficus formation can consist of the following steps:

  • Cut off the main ficus shoot at a height of 10-20 centimeters. If the ficus has large and large leaves, then at least 5-6 of them should remain.
  • If the side shoots of the ficus have reached a length of more than 10 centimeters, then they must also be pinched. The cut is made over the kidney, which looks outward.
  • All newly made cuts must be sprinkled with crushed charcoal, but before that, remove the secreted milky juice.
  • If the ficus bush has a high density of shoots, then some of them must be removed, especially those that are located inside the crown and thicken it.

For uniform growth of shoots, the ficus must be periodically turned to the sun in different directions.


You can form a ficus not in the form of a bush, but in the form of a trunk. To do this, you need to choose a young plant that has a pronounced central trunk.

The ficus formation process is as follows:

  • On the main trunk of the ficus, all side shoots must be cut regularly. Leave only a few located at the very top of the trunk.
  • When the ficus reaches the desired height, usually it is 30-40 centimeters if it is located on a table or windowsill and about 60-100 centimeters if it is grown on the floor, then the pruning of the side shoots is stopped.
  • After that, you need to pinch the top of the ficus, this will give a good incentive for the development of side shoots of the ficus.
  • If the lateral branches are very protracted, they should be cut off above the bud, which looks outward.

To make the stem stable, you can tie it to a peg, which can then be removed. All cuts that are made also need to be wiped with a damp cloth and sprinkled with crushed charcoal.


It is possible to form a stem in the form of a tier, but this will require an adult plant that has a pronounced central trunk.

Further, the process can be represented as the following steps:

  • As soon as the ficus reaches the desired height, it is necessary to cut off the top.
  • If the formation of a two-level stem is expected, then the crown of the ficus should be divided into three parts: the 1st and 3rd are located on top, these are the levels that will be spherical in shape, and the 2nd part is between the levels, it is freed from all shoots.
  • If it is supposed to form 3 levels, then the crown must be divided into five parts. 1,3 and 5 are the upper future levels, which are shaped into a ball, and 2 and 4 are the distance between them, freed from all shoots.
  • You can form levels from top to bottom, but then the top of the stem cannot be removed until the ficus grows to the desired height.

All care for such a multi-tiered ficus will come down to cutting off all the overgrown shoots on the bare part of the trunk and removing some young shoots that grow inside the crown and thicken it.

From some ficuses with small leaves, for example, Ficus Benjamin, you can, if desired, form real green figures in the form of a ball, pyramids, cubes, in the form of animals and birds.

SANITARY Pruning of ficus at home

This type of ficus pruning is not aimed at forming a beautiful plant shape, but at removing weak and diseased shoots. It can be carried out throughout the entire period. It is necessary to periodically inspect your pet and remove all dry branches affected by pests or diseases so that the infection does not spread to healthy shoots.

How to rejuvenate ficus?

If suddenly, for some reason, your ficus has dried up or the upper part has frostbite when kept in cold conditions, then anti-aging pruning is quite capable of correcting the situation.

In this situation, you can cut the ficus, leaving one stump. In this case, the plant will begin to recover due to root shoots. This is especially true for dwarf plants, such as carian ficus.

After the young shoots have grown enough, you can choose the most developed and strong among them and grow the ficus in the form of a shrub or form a bole. Even the most unpretentious indoor plants require care and attention, only in this case they will delight you with their beautiful appearance.

Video: How to prune ficus correctly

Pruning ficus - how to prune ficus at home

Publication date: 09/15/2019

Ficus is one of the most popular indoor plants, which has a lot of varieties, and each of them is original and beautiful. In order for this flower to grow correctly and please the eye all year round, it is necessary to cut it in a timely manner. This procedure is carried out not only in terms of aesthetics, but also in order for the flower to actively grow and multiply. Many flower growers are interested in how to cut a ficus, what time is best to do it, and what rules and nuances need to be taken into account. We will try to answer all questions in this article.

Can ficus be cut?

Like any other indoor plant, ficus needs care, and timely pruning is one of its main components. Therefore, ficus cutting is not only possible, but also necessary. Before proceeding with pruning, you need to decide on the purpose of this procedure. You can cut the ficus in order to form a beautiful crown, or for sanitary reasons, as well as to rejuvenate the plant. In any of these cases, pruning of ficuses should take place according to certain rules using a clean and sharp tool.

Why is ficus pruning needed? Circumcision time depending on purpose

To give the ficus a beautiful appearance and form a crown, circumcision must be carried out in the spring, when the flower is actively growing. At the same time of the year, plants are usually transplanted, but pruning and transplanting ficus cannot be done at the same time! You must first prune, and only two weeks after pruning, the plant can be transplanted.

Ficus pruning

Sanitary and anti-aging pruning of ficus can be carried out at any time of the year, even in winter, when the plant stops growing. This is done in order to rid the plant of weak, dried and diseased shoots. If they are not cut in time, they will infect healthy shoots, as a result of which the plant may stop growing and even die.

Basic rules for pruning adult ficus

At first glance, pruning a ficus at home seems to be a rather complicated procedure, but if you follow certain rules, even a beginner can handle it. First of all, you need to prepare the tool; at home, a secateurs, garden shears or a regular knife are perfect; The main thing is that the tool is clean and sharp. Before starting the procedure, the instrument must be treated with an antiseptic, and if you cut several flowers, then you need to disinfect the instrument after each plant.

It is possible to prune shoots to form a crown only in an adult ficus, it is better not to touch a young plant that is in the stage of active growth. You can cut the top of the ficus no more than twelve centimeters, otherwise the growth of the plant may stop. It is correct to cut the shoot above the bud, on thin shoots it should be even, and on thicker shoots it should be beveled. The main thing is to make a neat cut, otherwise there is a risk of infection of the plant with a bacterial or viral disease. After trimming, the sections must be treated with a special antiseptic or crushed charcoal. In order for the crown to turn out to be of the correct shape, the side shoots must be cut symmetrically, especially this rule applies to Benjamin's ficus. If there are shoots that grow inside the crown, then they must be removed first. The variety and physiology of the plant should also be taken into account. If everything is done correctly, then the crown of the plant will turn out to be lush and neat, and the flower itself will not endure the procedure easily and without consequences.

Circumcision of ficuses for sanitary and anti-aging purposes must be performed as needed. This is not done to give the plant a shape, but to rid it of unwanted shoots. It is necessary to constantly monitor the ficus in order to detect the disease or pests in time and get rid of them. If necessary, you can cut the ficus, leaving only stumps; over time, it will recover, thanks to the growth at the roots. The rules for pruning a diseased ficus are the same as for a healthy one: a sharp and clean tool, a correct and accurate cut and subsequent treatment with an antiseptic.

Basic care after pruning ficus

Pruned ficuses require special attention:

  • During this procedure, the plant is stressed, weakened and more susceptible to bacteria and infections.
  • A recently cut plant should not be sprayed: water that gets on the cuts can provoke the development of the disease.
  • The temperature in the room must not be lower than room temperature, the plant must not be placed in the cold and in drafts.
  • It is necessary to feed the plant in order to give it more strength to grow, however, it is not worth overdoing it with fertilizers, as well as with watering, this can adversely affect the health of the ficus.

If everything is done correctly, then after a short period of time the plant will recover and form a crown of the required shape. Ficus can be cut once a year, then it will be healthy and pleasing to the eye.

As a result of improper care, illnesses and insect attacks, indoor plants lose their attractiveness and may even die, and when there are many plants, these risks increase significantly. Therefore, the care of a large number of plants should be entrusted to professionals, because the cost of professional care of plants is much lower than the constant purchase of new ones.

The Greenofis company offers comprehensive services for the care of indoor plants. We have been working in this direction for more than ten years and during that time we have managed to establish ourselves as a reliable and steadily developing company.

Learn more