Learn How to Prune a Fiddle Leaf Fig Step-by-Step

By: Matt Slaymaker
January 22, 2024
How to Prune a Fiddle Leaf Fig
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The fiddle leaf fig, scientifically known as Ficus Lyrata, is a vibrant and popular indoor plant beloved for its large, sleek leaves. It's also popular under other names, such as lyre leaf fig tree or banjo fig. This tropical plant also grows fast and can reach up to 10 feet indoors. To keep it strong, healthy, and happy, it's essential to prune your fiddle leaf fig tree regularly. Whether you're a seasoned plant enthusiast or a beginner, knowing how to prune a fiddle leaf fig is key to unlocking its full potential.

So, this guide will take you through the step-by-step pruning process, addressing when, why, and how to trim your fiddle leaf fig for optimal growth and beauty.

Benefits of Pruning a Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree

Pruning is an important part of your fiddle leaf fig care routine. It's a transformative process that brings numerous benefits. By removing unwanted branches and damaged leaves, you not only maintain the plant's shape but also encourage robust growth and overall health. Some key advantages of pruning include:

  • Stimulating new growth: Pruning prompts the plant to redirect energy towards developing new shoots and leaves, ensuring a lush and vibrant appearance.
  • Shaping the tree: Regular pruning allows you to sculpt the fiddle leaf fig into a visually pleasing form, enhancing its aesthetic appeal in your indoor space.
  • Improving air circulation: Thinning out crowded Ficus Lyrata facilitates better breathability, reducing the risk of pests and diseases.
  • Preventing pest and disease issues: Removing dead or diseased foliage helps maintain a healthier environment, preventing potential infestations.

When Is the Best Time to Prune a Fiddle Leaf Fig:

Timing is vital when it comes to pruning your fiddle leaf fig. The ideal period for pruning is during the plant's active growing season, typically in the spring or early summer. During this period, the plant is already producing new leaves and shoots. The tree will also benefit from increased sunlight and warmth, which aids healing and encourages new growth. Expect your fiddle leaf fig to grow healthier, fuller, and bushier.

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Tools for Pruning a Fiddle Leaf Fig

Before pruning your fiddle leaf fig, gathering the proper tools is crucial for a smooth and effective operation. Some tools you'll need include:

  • Sharp pruning shears for making clean cuts
  • Clean towel or rag for wiping the cut areas
  • Gloves (optional) for protection from the mildly toxic milky white sap
  • Rubbing alcohol for sterilization

Keeping your tools clean and sharp minimizes stress on the plant and prevents the spread of diseases.

How to Prune a Fiddle Leaf Fig

Steps to Prune a Fiddle Leaf Fig

Pruning is a fundamental aspect of fiddle leaf fig care, contributing to the overall well-being and appearance of the plant. Knowing when and how to prune is essential for maintaining a healthy and thriving fiddle leaf fig. Here's a comprehensive guide on how to prune your fiddle leaf fig based on specific needs.

Pruning for Damaged Leaves

Check for any indications of damage, discoloration, or disease, such as the presence of brown spots on the foliage, and leaves turning yellowing or reddish. Damaged leaves can be a breeding ground for pests and diseases. So, their removal allows the plant to redirect energy towards healthier foliage. Use clean, sterilized, sharp pruning shears for precise cuts, ensuring you trim the affected area just above the leaf node.

Reducing Size and Crowding

Over time, fiddle leaf figs can become dense and crowded, hindering air circulation and increasing the risk of pests. To address this, selectively prune branches that are causing congestion. Focus on removing inward-growing or crossing branches to enhance air circulation. This helps prevent the onset of common plant issues associated with poor ventilation. If you own a fiddle leaf fig tree that is too large and tall, you can trim it down to reduce its size.

Shaping the Tree

Pruning your fiddle leaf fig allows you to control its shape or appearance and promote an aesthetically pleasing form. Begin by removing branches that stick out. Then, target growth that doesn't align with your ideal shape.

For those aiming for a tree-like appearance, consider removing lower leaves and branches to expose a well-defined trunk. If your plant lacks balance, selectively prune any awkward or unattractive growth to establish an appealing overall shape. Maintain balance by evenly pruning on all sides and assess the plant's overall symmetry.

Boosting New Growth on a Leggy Plant

Strategic pruning can encourage new growth lower on the stem if your fiddle leaf fig has grown tall and leggy with sparse foliage at the bottom. Trim the top section to stimulate budding on lower nodes. This promotes a bushier appearance and prevents the plant from becoming top-heavy.

Where to Prune Your Fiddle Leaf Fig

Making proper cuts is crucial to the success of the pruning process. Always prune just above a leaf node, ensuring a clean cut with no stub remaining. Cutting above a node encourages new growth, and the plant heals more effectively. Use sharp and clean pruning shears to minimize stress on the plant.

Fiddle Leaf Fig: Care Tips After Pruning

Fiddle Leaf Fig Post-pruning Care
Source: Reddit

After pruning your fiddle leaf fig, proper post-pruning care is key for its recovery and continued well-being. Here are essential care tips to follow:

  • Watering: Adjust the watering schedule to meet the plant's specific needs post-pruning. Ensure the soil remains sufficiently moist but not waterlogged, allowing the fiddle leaf fig to recover.
  • Feeding/fertilizing: Support your fiddle leaf fig's recovery by providing a balanced fertilizer. This helps replenish essential nutrients and encourages new growth.
  • Protecting fresh cuts from disease: Apply a thin wax or a plant-safe protective solution to the fresh cuts. This helps prevent infections and ensures a smoother healing process.
  • Light exposure: Maintain appropriate light conditions. While your fiddle leaf fig may benefit from indirect sunlight, avoid exposure to harsh, direct sunlight immediately after pruning to prevent stress.

Do Fiddle Leaf Figs Recover?

Yes, with proper care, fiddle leaf fig can recover, despite being capricious and not so easy going plants. Adequate watering, feeding, protection of fresh cuts, and maintaining suitable light exposure contribute to the plant's overall recovery and rejuvenation. Monitor your fiddle leaf fig closely during this period, providing the necessary care as it regains vitality.

Fiddle Leaf Fig Pruning: Common Issues

Pruning your fiddle leaf fig is beneficial, but it's advisable to be aware of common mistakes that can arise during the process. Among the potential issues are stressing the plants, leaf drop, drooping leaves, insect infestation, poor growth, red spots on leaves, and more.

Over-pruning, improper tool use, or neglecting aftercare can lead to leaf drop and aesthetic problems. Poor growth and no new leaves usually result from excessive trimming or incorrect pruning techniques, while drooping leaves could indicate stress from aggressive pruning. An insect infestation may occur if tools are improperly sterilized.

Red spots on your fiddle leaf fig indicate inconsistent watering, post-pruning. It's crucial to strike a balance and follow proper pruning techniques to avoid these common pitfalls.

Should I Cut the Leaves Off the Bottom of My Fiddle Leaf Fig?

Yes, cutting the lower leaves of your fiddle leaf fig is advisable. Removing these lower leaves encourages upward growth, redirects energy to upper foliage, and enhances the plant's overall appearance.

Should I Cut the Brown Tips Off My Fiddle Leaf Fig?

Yes. Trimming brown tips from your fiddle leaf fig's leaves is recommended. This practice helps maintain the plant's overall health and appearance by preventing the spread of damage and encouraging the growth of new, healthy foliage. Use clean and sharp pruning scissors for precise cuts just above the affected area to promote optimal recovery.

How to Prune a Fiddle Leaf Fig: FAQs

Q: Can I cut the top of my fiddle leaf fig?

A: Yes. You can cut the top of your fiddle leaf fig. This process, known as topping, helps control the height, stimulate branching, and encourage a fuller, bushier appearance. However, it's essential to be cautious and not remove too much foliage at once to avoid shock to the plant.

Q: Why is my fiddle leaf fig so tall and skinny?

A: A tall and skinny fiddle leaf fig is typically a result of insufficient light. The plant stretches towards light source, leading to elongated stems and sparse foliage. To address this, provide more indirect sunlight and consider rotating the plant regularly to ensure balanced growth.

Q: Why is my fiddle leaf fig only growing leaves on the bottom?

A: Fiddle leaf figs growing leaves only at the bottom could be due to stress, health problems, or low-light conditions. The plant develops leaves at the bottom, called suckers, which could be a sign of some damage to the roots or an insect infestation. To encourage balanced growth, prune the lower leaves, address any health issues with the plant and ensure it receives adequate sunlight from all sides. 

Q: Can you regrow a fiddle leaf from a leaf?

A: No. Fiddle leaf figs typically cannot be regrown from a single leaf. Instead, successful propagation is achieved through stem cuttings. Take a healthy stem cutting with at least one or two leaves and follow proper propagation techniques for the best results.

Q: How long does a fiddle leaf fig live indoors?

A: With proper care, a fiddle leaf fig can thrive as an indoor plant for many years, potentially reaching a decade or more. Regular pruning, appropriate watering, adequate light, and proper nutrition contribute to the plant's longevity and overall  health indoors.

Conclusion

Pruning is a key aspect of fiddle leaf fig care, as it helps remove damaged or dead leaves, reduce overcrowding, and shape the tree. It also boosts new growth on a leggy, tall plant. To prune a fiddle leaf fig, use only sterilized, sharp pruning shears and apply proper techniques to trim those dead, damaged, or browning leaves off your fiddle leaf fig tree.

Remember to provide proper aftercare to your plant, and protect the fresh cuts to ensure quick recovery. This way you'll enjoy a healthy, elegant, and vibrant plant. Consider companion plants like the lucky money tree plant, the gorgeous peace lily, or a few snake plants to complement your fiddle leaf fig, creating a harmonious indoor green space.