How do you properly prune a fig tree?

Asked July 13, 2013, 4:41 PM EDT

I have two fig trees that are about 4 years old and they are getting big. I would like to prune them and I would like to know 1) when I can do this? and 2) what to prune. Thank you.

Travis County Texas

1 Response


Normally we prune figs very little in Texas because of potential cold damage, ie. we usually have to prune back to live wood. In past years our varieties go dormant extremely well. We usually have a lot of cool, mild days prior to very hard winter freezes. The figs typically go through this very well and most stay in great shape. Then when it warms up in February and the plants lose some of their acclimated dormancy and bam, they freeze to the ground in March or so. So our pruning is often dictated by the environmental conditions. Pruning also reduces the potential crop. Let your trees dictate how much to prune them. The trees should make about one foot of new growth a year. If they are already making that then leave them alone. Use pruning to stimulate new growth, remove weak and/or dead limbs and to keep the plant in check. This pruning should be performed in early spring. The plants should also be mulched heavily due to their shallow root system and it also aids in cold protection. If organic mulch or compost is used, the necessary nutrients will be supplied from these materials. We don't want the plants to be overly vigorous or they will not go dormant in the fall and cold damage will be imminent. Let plant growth dictate how much fertility the plants are given. If they are making a foot of growth, then leave them alone.

Good luck!

David Rodriguez
Extension Horticulturist- Bexar County
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service
3355 Cherry Ridge, Suite 212
San Antonio, TX 78230