Fiddle Leaf Fig Pruning For Beginners in 6 Easy Steps

Is your fiddle leaf fig tall and skinny? Are you wondering how to prune your fiddle leaf fig? Do you want your fiddle leaf figs to grow branches and become fuller, this very SIMPLE guide is for you!

Follow this simple process of fiddle leaf fig pruning and notching to give your fig plant a beautiful shape & appearance.

Basics of Fiddle Leaf Fig Care Before Fiddle Leaf Fig Pruning

Before we get to fiddle leaf fig pruning, let’s go over the other factors that are very important to grow and care for your fig tree.

Tropical plants like fiddle-leaf figs need plenty of bright, indirect sunlight in order to grow and flourish. You may wonder “How to thicken fiddle leaf fig trunk?”. The answer is “Do all of the advice below”.

First, place them in the BEST light spot in your house where they can get at least 6 hours of light throughout the day, and make sure you care for the soil too.

Be careful not to over-water it. This is very common, which would lead to root rot – then brown spots in your fiddle leaf fig tree.

To encourage proper growth of your fiddle leaf fig, delight in turning it around every two weeks. This continual movement allows an even spread of light on all sides, enabling a balanced and healthy development for the plant.

It’s also important to swap out its soil a few times a year. Take out any soil that has decayed or become oversaturated and replace it with fresh components.

When caring for a fiddle leaf fig plant, having good air circulation is essential. It aids in reducing pests, boosts healthy growth and diminishes bacterial build-up.

Shaking the plants and turning on the fan near them can help improve air circulation in your space. This simulated wind encourages strong root growth and provides strength to the plant, which is backed by research & studies. An effective way to promote healthy growth!

Of course, when taking care of a fiddle leaf fig, we may encounter other problems and questions such as brown spots on fiddle leaf fig, propagating fiddle leaf fig, repotting fiddle leaf fig, and other issues. Get those problems away and make your fiddle leaf fig happy again with this thorough guide.

pruning fiddle leaf figs, propagating fiddle leaf figs, fiddle leaf fig care
Fiddle leaf fig pruning – the best way to make your fig plant grow bigger and fuller

Now, let’s jump into fiddle leaf fig pruning or how to make your fig plant branch and become gorgeous!

Overview on Fiddle Leaf Fig Pruning and Notching

To give you the foundation of fiddle leaf fig pruning, we need to go from the notching technique, which is very simple and easy to do.

Notching is when you make a cut or an injury to your plant’s bark, which interrupts the flow of sap. This sap contains both hormones that suppress and enhance growth, so when you disrupt it, you’re impacting your plant’s development. That tells your plant to actually grow a new branch at the node that is beneath that cut.

Why does notching work? Because plants are always competing for light in the wild, they try to grow taller and further out to get as much light as possible. Therefore, when a plant is injured in the wild, it responds by putting out new leaves.

Notching is an effective technique that can be used to improve the growth of plants with wooden stems, both in the wild and indoors. Examples include Rubber trees, Ficus Benjamina & Fiddle leaf figs.

Before you start doing anything about fiddle leaf fig pruning, let it reach two-thirds of the desired height. This will enable the trunk to become thick & strong while meeting your desired space constraints.
How to prune fiddle leaf fig into tree like this?

For your fiddle leaf fig tree to grow tall, it’s recommended that you top the tree out at least 8-10 inches away from the ceiling. Doing so not only provides a nicer look but also prevents the top leaves from being bent & crushed against the ceiling.

If your home has nine-foot ceilings, and you’d like the tree to reach a height of seven or eight feet, then wait until the trunk reaches five feet before beginning to prune for lateral growth.

If you’ve been looking to get into fiddle leaf fig pruning, this guide has all the steps for you to successfully transform tall, thin plants into a gorgeous display. Learn how to do it here!

Fiddle Leaf Fig Pruning and Notching Guide

Step 1: Prepare the tools

The very first step in fiddle leaf fig pruning or notching is to prepare the tools.

  • Take a sharp pruning shear or a pair of scissors. 
  • Sterilize them by washing them with hot soap and water, or you can use rubbing alcohol. Make sure they are clean because you can transmit infections if you do not clean your shears.
  • Wear gloves if you want to avoid the sap touching your hands.
  • Have a cotton ball and rooting hormones ready to use when the cutting is completed.

Step 2: Locate 2 nodes

Now, after preparing the tools, we will need to decide where to have branches in our fig plants.

You can get a fresh start by inducing new growth around the top of a single stem in your fig plant.

Another option is to simply cut it off, or pruning the main stem of your fiddle leaf fig tree, which can also be used for propagation. Notching is useful for preserving the upper part of the cut without losing any of it.

Now, get closer to the trunk area where you want your fig plant to branch, and look for the nodes.

Nodes, from where the leaves grow out of the plant, can be easily identified in places where old leaves used to exist.

  • To get branching in your fiddle leaf fig plants, identify two nodes and then we will need to make a cut within the internodal space (the area between the two nodes).
  • Keep the chosen parts colored by marking them with a pen or some colorful tape. This will make it simpler to check back in the future if needed.
  • Keep in mind to cut right above the nodes when notching. This is a key point to ensuring that your notching job is successful.

It’s important to make a cut above a node on an older leaf as it can help in encouraging new growth.

This is because when the cut is made, the dormant buds found in the node will then sprout into branches and leaves.

Step 3: Cut a full notch on your fig plant

Notching is done by cutting two 45-degree anglesright above the nodes on a plant and leaving out a triangle-shaped piece of bark.

My preferred method is to grasp the tool firmly and push it approximately a quarter of the way through the branch.

One-quarter to one-third of the way through the stem is sufficient to create an injury without over-injuring your plant.

You never want to go more than one-third of the way through the branch, as it can damage the plant and you don’t need to prune that far. Doing so may also cause the plant to become unstable and potentially fall over.

fiddle leaf fig branching secret, to grow and care,
Fiddle leaf fig pruning – notching in a stem

Another way to notch is slicing – you just hold your knife steady and push.

If you choose to use the slicing method, be careful not to prune your plant by going too far. Some people use this method in their fiddle leaf fig pruning.

In that case, you will lop off that part of your fiddle leaf fig. It will still branch at the node beneath that, but of course, you will lose the growth above that.

That’s exactly what happens when if you cut the top off a fiddle leaf fig. You will prune the main stem of your fig plant. Also, it’s a great opportunity to use that stem to propagate a mini version of your current fiddle leaf fig plant.

A common mistake with fiddle leaf fig pruning and notching is that people only make one slit, instead of cutting a full notch. This may seem faster and easier, but taking the time to cut a full notch actually helps it heal better and increases the chances of successful branching.
Propagating fiddle leaf fig plant

Notching or pruning your fig plant correctly is essential to its health. Doing it at the right time, when the hormones are disrupted and energy is focused on forming new branches is important. If sap appears when you make a notching cut, that’s a sign that you’ve gone too far.

We suggest trying two to three notches on a small fig tree all at once. Doing too much too soon can be tough on the plants. Thus, not more than three full notches should be done in one go for a smaller fig plant and five to six for larger ones.

The maximum for notching at one time is 2 – 3 full notches on a small fig plant and 5-6 notches on a large plant.

Step 4: Use rooting hormones

Rooting hormones will encourage your plant to branch, so you can apply them not only in fiddle leaf fig pruning but also in growing other plants.

All you need to do is choose a rooting hormone, place it onto a cotton ball and then use it to spread over the damage or cut that is on the plant.

When applied on the cut, it gives a signal to the plant that encourages branching and increases your chances of success with notching.

If you’re looking to give your fig plants a boost, you could try making your own rooting hormones. There are numerous options available – some of which are outlined below.

  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Cinnamon powder
  • Willow bark
  • Pure honey
  • Aloe vera gel
  • Aspirin 350 mg
  • Mixed no.2-8
  • Vitamin B1
  • Your own saliva

More details on the rooting hormones that you can find at home:

YouTube video

Step 5: Check back after a month

While doing fiddle leaf fig pruning, remember that normally, half of the notches in your fiddle leaf figs will form new branches. 

After a month you’ll be able to see how many of the notches have taken. Should you still want more, two to three additional notches can be done at that time.

For bigger fiddle leaf figs, 5 or 6 notches would be the ideal number.

It’s important to be careful so that you don’t cause too much damage and trauma to your plant. Taking it slow will give us the desired outcome of multiple well-formed branches in the long run.

A few weeks after you get fiddle leaf fig pruning, your tree will sprout new branches from the cut that you made.

Usually, one branch is enough but you can expect two to three lateral branches in some cases. When the new branches begin to produce leaves, one or two of them can be pruned away from the base of the tree.

how to prune fiddle leaf fig into a tree,
How to prune fiddle leaf fig into tree – Credit: @indoorplanteden

Step 6: Add Fertilizer in Growing Season

To foster healthy new growth, you need to nourish your Fiddle Leaf Fig during the growing period with a high-nitrogen fertilizer. This will help keep it looking its best with gorgeous leaves.

Fertilizing your fiddle fig with an NPK ratio of 3-1-2 is the recommended way to go. It contains more nitrogen as the plant has plenty of foliage and requires a higher level of nitrogen for optimal growth.

During the growing season, your fiddle leaf fig can benefit from fertilizer twice a month – depending on how much you water it. Following this treatment, you will see your plant thriving and grow quickly.

Fiddle Leaf Fig Pruning and Branching Secrets

Keep in mind that you should not prune more than 10% of the fiddle-leaf fig at a time – this may lead to unhealthy branches and leaves.

Don’t cut the leaves below the trimming point. Allow them to remain so that the plant is able to photosynthesize and get enough energy for further growth of lateral branches.

You may wonder “Can I prune fiddle leaf fig in winter?”. It’s not recommended. Pruning a fiddle-leaf fig can help create a branchy tree form. The best time to do this is during the spring and summer when new growth is active.

When you need to prune the main stem of your fig plant, cut six inches or more down from the tip of the tree and save the cutting to propagate it. Important to note: make sure you cut in an internodal space!

YouTube video
Fiddle leaf fig pruning techniques for everyone to have a fuller fig plant

When pruning lateral branches, make sure to trim just above the branch collar.

If you cut too close to the trunk, it can cause tissue damage or even let in disease-causing pathogens. Therefore, leave a small gap between your cut and the trunk for the best results.

If you’re planning to cut a branch off your plant, be sure to not cut too far away.

This can lead to the remaining branch rotting and the branch collar decaying – which could result in an infection. For smaller jobs such as pruning a few dead leaves, use your pruners and carefully snip them off at the base.

With the information above on fiddle leaf fig pruning and notching techniques, we hope you now can make your lovely fiddle leaf figs grow bigger and healthier. This trendy tropical plant is a treasure to own and this guideline surely helps you get the best out of your figurine.