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.
Where should a fiddle leaf fig be cut?
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.
Is my fiddle leaf fig in need of pruning?
Our indoor plants also require occasional trimming, just like when we clip our hair or groom our dogs. This not only generally enhances their beauty but also benefits the health of the plant as a whole. Among the advantages of trimming your fiddle may be:
Space: Fiddle leaf figs have a propensity to grow rapidly under ideal conditions, so you could realize that your fiddle is getting “packed.” Your plant will benefit from improved ventilation if you prune a few leaves and branches.
Sickness: Prune any leaves that are showing indications of illness, such as brown spots, right away. In addition to using a lot of energy to repair these damaged spots, your plant may also swiftly transmit the infection to other neighboring leaves and across the entire plant.
Form: Pruning your tree will help you get the picture-perfect appearance you’ve been wishing for, whether you have uneven growth or you just want to improve its shape.
How should a fiddle leaf fig tree be trimmed?
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 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 fig trees 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 bleed a white sap when they are cut, if you are cutting large branches it is important to the health of the tree that it is dormant when you do.
Why should I Wiggle my Fiddle leaf fig?
Your indoor tree’s trunk can be moved to simulate wind, which will help you become more resilient outside. You can also leave your tree outside for extended periods of time to strengthen its trunk and expose it to the elements. Once you get the leaves inside, be sure to inspect them for bugs.
What are the best growing conditions for an indoor fiddle leaf fig tree?
Know that your fiddle leaf fig tree prefers moderate temperature changes and place it in a sunny spot within the house. The tree should be planted in a container with well-draining soil that is kept humid but not soggy since this might cause root rot.
Why isn’t my fiddle leaf fig tree flowering?
You should be careful not to overwater your fiddle leaf fig because it is prone to root rot. When storing the fig within a container, make sure the bottom has lots of holes to allow for proper drainage.
How do I fix a leggy fiddle leaf fig tree?
Give a leggy or tilted fiddle leaf fig tree bright, filtered sunshine as treatment. Please place your plant in the area of the house that gets the most indirect sunlight, which is usually six to eight hours per day. Don’t keep it in the Sun for too long, though; doing so could scorch the leaves.
Will wiggling my fiddle leaf fig tree weaken its roots?
Every one to two weeks, wiggle your fiddle leaf fig tree for 1.5 to 2 minutes to significantly thicken the trunk. Beginning with light shaking, progressively build up the force. If your plant is stake-supported, move it about at first with the support in place. You can take the stake out once your fig tree has gotten used to this practice.