Monday, January 19, 2015

Pruning Fig Trees. 1.19.15

Fig "Aubique Petite" before pruning.  1.19.15

Fig "Aubique Petite" after pruning.  1.19.15
 Today I pruned my two front yard fig trees in Vancouver.  These are among my oldest trees, about 13 to 14 years old.  They have spread too wide.  It is difficult getting bird netting over the trees.

Both bear mainly on new growth in fall - "Main Crop" but get a few summer figs on the previous year's growth - "breba figs".   If these were mainly breba varieties, pruning much of the growth now could mean loss of much of next summer's crop.  Since they are mostly main crop, production will not be so affected.

The goal was to make them a bit more compact while still having an open center, with the branches like the sides of a bowl.

I started by standing back and selecting which branches to remove close to the main trunk and scaffold branches.  With each cut, I backed up again to see if I really wanted to remove the next branch.

Once I removed the larger branches, I used the pruning shears to remove smaller ones, aiming always for a bowl shape with open center, and branches not spreading as far and wide.  Finally, I trimmed off some that looked frost damaged, and cut the tips from some to encourage close-in branching.

I'm happy with the results.  The trees are likely to respond with a burst of growth, but also have lots of figs that ripen nicely due to more sun exposure in the trees.  If I want to net the trees, it will be easier.

The last photo shows the cut end of a branch.  These fig trees seem to make multiple rings per year.  The branch can't be more than 14 years old, and probably more like 12.  I planted the tree 14 years ago.

Fig "Hardy Chicago" before pruning.  1.19.15

Fig "Hardy Chicago" after pruning.  1.19.15
Tree rings on 13-year old fig branch.  Ficus carica "Petite Aubique".  1.19.15


  1. That's some big branches. I agree that fig makes multiple rings. I've one that I rooted and gifted to someone and I just visited them last weekend and saw the monster again. Well they pretty much top it since it ate their yard. It can't be more then 7-8 yrs old. Of course so much figs they don't know what to do with. They figure its too vigorous of a tree and rather pruning like you do it they left a 5 ft tall stump.

  2. I saved that piece of wood. Maybe when it's fully dried out I can sand it smooth and apply a nice coat of polyurethane.

    This was the most drastic that I've pruned these trees. It was time - they were taking too much room. If it works, they will be more compact and at the same time have open centers for light and air.

    I bet your friend's tree grows again. Suckers can grow really fast when the top is cut.

    Most of the time, in the summer I cut off the stems at about 4 to 6 leaves. That encourages fig production. That also leads to nice branch sructure.