As I indicated earlier, many growers like to cultivate a traditional tree shape, complete with a distinct canopy and trunk. However, F. lyrata tends to grow in a columnar or bushy shape when kept as a houseplant.
In the wild, F. lyrata does this on its own by losing its lower leaves and growing into its original shape as a banyan tree.
like the renowned “Wild F. lyrata and ordinary banyan, F. benghalensis, both start out their lives as epiphytes. When a seed falls into another tree’s canopy, it germinates, develops, and eventually strangles its host plant as it descends to the ground.
Your houseplant won’t do this, of course, but the tree shape is attractive. How can a rambunctious F. lyrata be transformed into a tall, graceful specimen?
First off, if you’ve recently acquired a highly sought-after fiddle-leaf, hold off on starting to prune it into a tree shape.
Whatever two-thirds of the intended height means to you within the boundaries of your space, let it grow to that point. The trunk might become strong and thick as a result.
It’s advisable to top the tree out at least eight to ten inches away from the ceiling if you want it to grow tall.
This not only improves the appearance but also prevents the top leaves from bending and slamming against your ceiling.
Say, for instance, that you want to top your tree off at about seven or eight feet and that your home has nine-foot ceilings. You shouldn’t begin trimming for lateral growth until the trunk is at least five feet tall based on these measurements.
Wait until spring or summer when the plant is actively growing before pruning your fiddle-leaf fig to generate a tree form with branching lateral growth. Then, make a cut at least six inches down from the tip of the tree.
You can preserve and grow this cutting! Cut in an internodal space, if possible.
Don’t remove the leaves that are below the cut. So that the plant can photosynthesize and generate energy to grow those lateral branches, you want them to stay.
Within a few weeks, your F. lyrata will start to branch from the cut. Although this tree occasionally produces just one branch, it frequently produces two or three additional lateral branches.
You can remove one or two leaves from the tree’s base once the new branches have developed leaves.
The hue of the leaves and emerging branches will deepen as the canopy ages. Feel free to remove one or two more leaves from the bottom part of the trunk once you become aware of this.
You can continue to prune leaves away from the tree’s trunk as the canopy grows over time. You’ll eventually grow a tidy trunk that supports a Y-shaped canopy.
Note: Some knowledgeable gardeners enjoy using a technique called “creating lateral branches by notching. Using this technique, the gardener carefully cuts through two nodes. This cut is supposed to encourage the tree to generate lateral branches without losing height.
Because of the fast growth of F. lyrata and the fact that we are confident that pruning for lateral branch growth yields reliable results, we advise using this technique to produce that attractive canopy.
After pruning, give your plant the best care possible by providing it with the right amount of water, fertilizer, and light, which will hasten the healing of its wounds.
Can fiddle leaf figs be pruned?
Cutting back fiddle leaf figs is actually extremely simple, despite the fact that the concept of it may be scary.
When trimming down fiddle leaf figs, be prepared. You should cut your plant with neat, precise cuts. Only a clean, well-kept set of pruning shears can accomplish this; not a pair of worn-out scissors. It’s also advised to cover the area surrounding your fiddle leaf fig with a drop cloth when you prune it because any cuts could drip sticky sap onto your floors, and nobody likes that.
If you feel so inclined, think about keeping the healthy trimmings and replanting them as fiddle leaf fig plants by rerooting them in a jar of water. Within 1-2 months, your cuttings should form healthy root systems; at this stage, you can plant them in little pots.
Your particular preferences will determine how you prune fiddle leaf figs. dislike the appearance of sick branches or shredded, burned leaves? Simply use your pruning shears to remove any of these eyesores. The stems or trunks of fiddle leaf figs can be either naked or covered in leaves. If you want your fiddle leaf fig to look more like a tree, you should remove the older lower leaves from the trunk, assuming your plant is still growing well on top.
Do you like how tall your fiddle leaf fig is right now? Your primary stem has a developing tip at the top where new leaves will eventually appear. You will need to use your fingers to pinch out these young leaves as they emerge in order to control the height of your plant. Additionally, it might prevent lower leaf loss and promote branching of your plant close to the pinch spots.
Is your fiddle leaf fig plant lanky or excessively tall? Make a cut just above one of the main stem’s nodes at the required height by inspecting the nodes (a node is the location where a leaf joins a branch). For any horizontal or outward branches that may be too lengthy for your taste, repeat this procedure. Below the areas where you were trimming back fiddle leaf figs, new growth can sprout.
How should a fiddle leaf fig tree be pruned?
Similar to sculpting a masterpiece, shaping your fiddle leaf fig requires that you start with an idea of what you want the finished product to look like.
To ensure that the remaining foliage looks balanced, I find it helpful to label all the branches you want to remove with colorful tape or a Post-it Note before you begin. To lessen the risk of shock, start out gently and never remove more than 10% of your plant at once.
Decide on Your Ideal Shape
Fiddle leaf fig plants often have one of two shapes: a bush or a tree.
Smaller plants are typically bushier, whereas larger plants are typically more fashioned like trees. You might want to start shaping your little plant into a tree as it grows. Choose whether you want to prune your plant to maintain its compact bush shape or to give it a correct tree shape.
Plan to Remove Damaged Leaves or Branches
So that you can arrange to eliminate the least healthy parts of your plant first, evaluate the general health of each branch and group of leaves. Mark any sections that need to be removed if there are any leaves with brown spots or branches with smaller leaf growth.
Remove Crossing Branches
To increase airflow and relieve crowding, you should eliminate some portions of densely populated branches. You should take care of any branches that touch each other as well as any leaves that are preventing one another’s leaves from growing.
Create Your Ideal Shape
Any growth that is 8 to 10 inches or less from the ceiling, the surrounding walls, or the furniture should be planned for removal. Next, cut off any growth that does not conform to your ideal shape.
Remove lower leaves and branches to reveal a good trunk if you want to create a tree-like shape. Remove gangly or ugly growth if your plant is out of balance to give it a more appealing overall form.
How to Make Your Cuts
Pruning should begin once you’ve marked the sections you want to cut out and made sure you like the way the tree looks in its finished form. When pruning your plant, make sure the cutting motion does not crush or harm the stem by using a sharp, clean tool.
Cut each one away from the trunk or any leaves by about a half-inch. With no chance of infection spreading to the main trunk or any surviving leaves, this enables your plant to heal properly. In order to prevent the spread of bacteria and diseases, pick up and dispose of any falling leaves or garbage.
New Growth After Pruning
If your plant is healthy, it will typically divide the branch where it was pruned, producing two branches where one once was.
Eventually, this creates the impression of a fuller, healthier plant. Your plant might only continue to develop one branch where it was clipped if it is in pain or isn’t getting enough light. After pruning, allow access to lots of light to promote more development.
Fertilize After Pruning
Fertilize your plant frequently after pruning to promote new growth and aid in the plant’s recovery from the shock of pruning. (Are you unsure of the ideal fertilizer for your fiddle leaf fig? Test out our plant food! Within a few weeks to a month after pruning your plant, you ought to notice new growth.
Can you remove the fiddle leaf fig’s top?
Your fiddle leaf fig probably has no other branches that will allow it to transition from a fiddle leaf shrub to a fiddle leaf tree. In addition, bear the following in mind before proceeding:
The amount of regrowth that results from pruning depends on how severe it was. The reason for this is that the plant is trying to grow again in an effort to balance the root system below with the shoot system above, which is now designed to support the plant at its bigger size before trimming.
Usually, the most active shoot growth takes place 6 to 8 inches after the pruning cut.
Make the cut on your fiddle leaf fig
Make a decision regarding the size of the Ficus lyrata cut. Once more, the branching will be more noticeable the longer a part is clipped. (And the less the plant will grow in height, at least for that shoot.)
Your fiddle leaf fig won’t be encouraged to generate as many lateral branches off of the main trunk if you simply pinch out the fresh buds at the top with your fingers.
If you want to encourage a little lateral development to make your plant appear fuller near the top, pinching is more helpful.
On the other hand, you’ll see a lot more branching if you remove 12 of the top shoots.
Choose the node that you want to cut above. The spots on stems known as nodes are where leaves, buds, or branches can grow. However, not every node has leaves or branches; some nodes may only have a mark and a little thickening of the stem. Internodes are the parts of the stem that lie between the nodes.
3. Make use of a clean pair of pruners. Just above the top of your node, make the cut. Cut just above the node rather than into it, which would harm it.
Any plant in the fig family, including your fiddle leaf fig, will exude an oozing, milky, white sap when cut. Simply avoid eating it, getting it in your eyes, or letting it land on the carpet because it can be annoying.
4. As a final piece of advice, wait to remove leaves from the trunk of your fiddle leaf until the new branches have begun to grow. Your plant should be as robust as possible because those leaves aid in the development of the new lateral buds.
(Are you wondering what to do with the plant pieces you pruned? Why not cultivate a second fiddle leaf fig?
I’m done now! Now, give your new lateral buds, which will eventually grow into branches, a few weeks. While the exact length of time varies on a number of variables, your chances of success are higher if you attempt this in the spring, when fiddle leaves are actively growing, as opposed to the winter, when they are largely dormant. In comparison to winter, when the plant will need more time to heal the cut and form new buds, springtime will see rapid new development.
Can I chop my fig tree’s top off?
If a fig tree is left to grow on its own, it develops into a charming and romantic figure with a strong, twisted trunk that rises 50 feet in the air and thick, robust branches that span the same distance horizontally. You must begin training the tree as soon as possible if you want something more manageable and compact. A fruit tree is trained when it is young to develop a structure that produces copious amounts of fruit that is simple to harvest. Fig trees typically have an open center structure with no central branches, enabling more sunlight to enter. Cutting off the top of the young tree is the first step in the procedure.
Remove the newly planted fig tree’s top 24 inches or so from the ground. Act before the first buds emerge in the late winter or early spring. All remaining branches should be cut back to 6 inches.
Early in the summer, keep an eye out for quick new growth. Choose three healthy shoots from the new branches at the end of June to act as the main scaffolding branches. Select branches to be evenly spaced around the trunk, up to 8 inches vertically apart, with the lowest branch being 20 inches or so off the ground. Avoid branches that are attached to the trunk at tight angles; instead, go for angles of about 45 degrees. Use paint or ribbon to identify the scaffold branches so you won’t confuse them.
When the scaffold branches are longer than 30 inches, trim them back to 20 inches. On each scaffold branch, pick three or four auxiliary scaffold branches. Reduce all other shoots to a height of 6 inches.
When do figs need to be pruned?
After the worst frosts have passed, it is ideal to prune fig trees in March or April; any dead and diseased wood should be cut out. according to Thompson & Morgan’s Sue Sanderson (opens in new tab). In this manner, the plant will remain sufficiently dormant to withstand the pruning while the frosts will not be able to harm the wounds left by the trimming.
Fig trees leak a white sap when they are cut, hence it is crucial for the health of the tree that it is dormant while chopping huge branches.
What happens when a fiddle leaf fig is notched?
A room is brightened by a bushy fiddle leaf fig with lush foliage, but occasionally they might become leggy, malformed, or not have the full foliage you want. Making sure a fiddle leaf fig plant is healthy and receiving everything it needs to thrive is the first step in encouraging it to grow bushy leaves.
Before attempting to coerce the plant into producing bushy foliage, be sure you are providing for its growing requirements and that the plant is healthy. Here is a quick list of the requirements for your fiddle leaf fig plant to thrive inside.
Check on its light needs
For photosynthesizing to take place and generate the energy required for growth, your fiddle leaf fig needs direct sunshine. Place your fiddle leaf fig in an area that gets at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day to make sure its lighting needs are being satisfied. It works great to be near a window in the west or south. An eastern window also works nicely if you have adequate eastern exposure.
The level of light your fiddle leaf fig plant needs to thrive is not present in the light coming from a northern window. Similar to this, watch out that your plant doesn’t get too much light, since a sunburned fiddle leaf fig won’t look its best.
Make sure it’s getting enough water
Your fiddle leaf fig requires enough water to stay healthy and beautiful. Every time the soil feels dry to the touch 2 to 3 inches below the surface, water it thoroughly so that water runs through the bottom of the pot. After watering your plant, empty the saucer or catchpan. A fiddle leaf fig that has been overwatered may develop root rot, among a number of other problems. Water that is left in the saucer may siphon into the soil and keep it moist.
When determining how frequently to water a fiddle leaf fig, keep a close eye on the soil around the plant and create a schedule that works for you. When it is vigorously developing in the spring and summer, it can need watering once a week or more. During the fall and winter, it may last 10 days or longer without needing water.
Put your fiddle leaf fig in the right soil
To maintain the health of your fiddle leaf fig, you need well-draining soil. The roots may become trapped in squishy soil as a result of poor soil drainage. This may result in diseases like root rot.
By mixing one to two parts all-purpose potting soil, one part perlite, and one part peat moss, you can create your own potting soil for your fiddle leaf fig tree. Widely regarded as the ideal soil for fiddle leaf figs, this produces a light soil that drains well.
Ensure it has the right temperature and humidity
Temperature changes will harm your fiddle leaf fig, which enjoys temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees. It should not be planted close to heating or air conditioning vents because it is susceptible to both hot and cold gusts. It prefers a relative humidity of between 30 and 65 percent, therefore dry air in your home during the winter months may be problematic.
Use water-filled pebble trays underneath the pot or set up a humidifier to maintain the happiness of your fiddle leaf fig tree. You might arrange your plants in a cluster to take use of the moisture they transpire. The surrounding humidity will increase as a result.
Some people prefer to spritz their plants frequently, but this method is ineffective for increasing the humidity in the area around your plants. Misting has short-lived effects and needs to be done frequently during the day to be effective.
Feed your fiddle leaf fig with its preferred fertilizer
High nitrogen fertilizers work best for fiddle leaf figs. The optimal formula is 3-1-2. This or a similar recipe can be purchased from a hardware store or garden shop. From spring through summer, feed your fiddle leaf fig once a month, adhering to the application rate on the container. When new growth starts to show in the spring, you should restart fertilizing your fiddle leaf fig.
Pinch your fiddle leaf fig
The simplest and least labor-intensive technique to spur new growth is to pinch.
The act of pinching a fiddle leaf fig involves using your thumb and finger to scrape off the tiniest fresh leaves from the tops of your plant’s branches and stem. Squeeze the fresh leaves to remove them from the plant by locating them.
The plant must create new growth from nodes along the stem or branch when the fresh leaves are pinched out.
Prune your plant
While pruning requires a bit more work than pinching does in terms of making your fiddle leaf fig bushier, the consequences are the same.
You will require a clean, sharp pair of clippers or a knife to prune your fiddle leaf fig. Find a node on the plant’s stem where you want new growth or lateral branches to develop.
Just 1/4 to 1/2 inch above the node, cut the stem. This will compel the plant node to produce new growth. To force branching, you can prune lateral branches or the fiddle leaf fig’s entire top.
No more than 10% of the plant should be pruned. Extreme trimming may stress the plant and retard its growth.
Notch your fiddle leaf fig
A more sophisticated technique for making your fiddle leaf fig tree bushy is notching.
As previously mentioned, notching entails slicing the plant’s stem right above a node. This prevents the release of growth hormones and causes the node to produce new growth.
Since notching necessitates a deep cut through one-third of the stem, it carries a small chance of accidently cutting the entire stem. If you want to force new branches and bushy development on your fiddle leaf fig tree, try notching it as described above.
Your fiddle leaf fig plant will look better if you promote lush new growth. Notching is one method of doing it, but it’s not the only one. If you’re worried about notching your fiddle leaf fig and running the danger of breaking it or totally cutting the stem, think about pinching or pruning to create a bushy plant as an alternative.