The Art of Fiddle Leaf Fig Pruning

With the right care, sunlight, and soil, your fiddle leaf fig will flourish and grow at an astonishing rate. However, without proper pruning, it can quickly become lopsided or outgrow its space. Pruning is the key to maintaining a healthy, balanced, and well-sized fiddle leaf fig plant. In this article, we will guide you through the art of pruning your fiddle leaf fig and reveal the many benefits it brings.

The Advantages of Pruning

Pruning your fiddle leaf fig is just as important as grooming your pets. It keeps your plant healthy and ensures optimal growth. Let’s explore the reasons why you should incorporate pruning into your plant care routine.

Removing Damaged Leaves and Stems

Regular pruning allows you to quickly remove any leaves or stems that have been damaged. By eliminating large brown spots or holes, you improve the overall health of your plant. Sick or injured leaves drain resources and can even spread infection. Promptly removing damaged foliage at any time of the year is crucial.

Pruning the damaged leaves and branches from this fiddle leaf fig could potentially save it.

Controlling Height and Size

Fiddle leaf figs have a natural tendency to grow towards the sun, which may cause them to become too large or tall for their designated location. To maintain an aesthetically pleasing appearance, it’s best to keep the top leaves around 8 to 10 inches below the ceiling. By pruning your plant and restricting its height, you foster a stronger and more compact form.

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This plant may look better if it was pruned to give it 8 to 10 inches of space from the ceiling.

Achieving Balance

Depending on the direction of light, your fiddle leaf fig may grow unevenly towards the nearest window, resulting in an imbalanced appearance. Regularly rotating your plant helps it grow symmetrically, but pruning plays a vital role in preventing lopsidedness. By strategically removing excessive growth, you can ensure a balanced and visually appealing plant.

Fiddle leaf figs can quickly get lopsided and become unstable without pruning.

Promoting Airflow and Space

Fiddle leaf fig leaves require ample airflow and space to thrive. If your plant becomes too crowded, the leaves may rub against each other and suffer damage. Pruning helps alleviate this issue by thinning out densely packed areas, allowing your plant to breathe and preventing potential harm.

This fiddle leaf fig might look better with less crowded leaves and a more balanced shape.

Shaping Your Plant

Indoor fiddle leaf figs often develop unconventional shapes due to limited access to sunlight. Unlike their outdoor counterparts, they may grow sideways rather than reaching directly for the sun. Additionally, lower leaves that would naturally fall off in the wild may persist indoors, disrupting the desired tree-like shape. Pruning enables you to shape your plant according to your preferences, removing lower leaves and branches that detract from its ideal form.

Prune your plant toward a tree shape by removing the lower leaves.

Preparing for Pruning

The prime time to prune your fiddle leaf fig is in spring or early summer when ample light fuels recovery and new growth. Before you begin, gather a sharp pair of pruning shears to prevent damage to your plant. Lay down an old sheet or drop cloth to protect your floor from the sap that oozes from each cut, which can be sticky and potentially damaging. It is essential to clean and disinfect your tools beforehand to avoid infecting your plant. Run your shears through the dishwasher or wash them thoroughly with soap and water.

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Pruning Your Fiddle Leaf Fig

Pruning a fiddle leaf fig is akin to sculpting a masterpiece. Before you commence, envision your desired end result. Remember, once you make a cut, you cannot undo it. Take your time and proceed cautiously, following these steps:

Decide on Your Desired Shape

Fiddle leaf fig plants generally fall into two categories: bush shape and tree shape. Smaller plants tend to have a bushier appearance, while larger ones lean towards a tree-like structure. As your small plant grows, you may choose to shape it into a tree form. Determine whether you aim to prune your plant into a proper tree shape or maintain a compact bush appearance.

Identify Damaged Areas

Assess the overall health of each branch and group of leaves. Start by removing the least healthy sections of your plant first. Note any branches with brown spots or areas with stunted leaf growth for subsequent removal.

Eliminate Crossing Branches

If your plant has densely packed branches, it’s crucial to thin them out to allow for improved airflow and reduced crowding. Address branches that touch or obstruct each other, as well as any leaves that impede healthy growth.

Create Your Ideal Shape

Remove any growth that encroaches within 8 to 10 inches of the ceiling, surrounding walls, or furniture. Next, eliminate any growth that does not align with your desired plant shape. If you prefer a tree-like appearance, focus on removing lower leaves and branches to reveal a defined trunk. For unbalanced plants, prune gangly or unsightly growth to enhance overall attractiveness.

Making the Cuts

Once you have marked the areas you wish to remove and are content with the final shape, it’s time to prune. Use a sharp and clean tool to make each cut, ensuring you don’t crush or damage the stem. Make the cut about half an inch from any leaves or the trunk, enabling proper healing without risking infection or harm to the remaining foliage. Dispose of any dropped leaves or debris to prevent the spread of germs and infections.

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New Growth and Fertilization

Healthy plants typically split their branches at the pruning site, resulting in new growth and a fuller appearance. However, if your plant is struggling or lacks sufficient light, it may only grow one branch in place of the cut. To encourage further growth, ensure your plant receives abundant light after pruning. Additionally, fertilize your plant regularly to aid in healing and promote new growth.

Encouraging Rapid Growth

If you feel confident in your pruning abilities, you can take your plant care to the next level by propagating your fiddle leaf fig. Pruning provides you with access to stem cuttings, making it an opportune time for propagation. For more information on propagating your fiddle leaf fig and encouraging new branches, watch the Fiddle Leaf Fig Notching Tutorial.

Ames Farm Center

For premium quality fiddle leaf figs and expert advice, visit Ames Farm Center, your trusted source for all your plant needs.


Pruning your fiddle leaf fig is a skillful task that requires finesse and vision. By removing damaged leaves, controlling size, promoting balance, ensuring airflow, and shaping your plant, you can create a beautiful and thriving fiddle leaf fig. Remember to prune in spring or early summer, carefully plan your cuts, and provide ample light and fertilizer for optimal growth. With patience and care, your fiddle leaf fig will flourish, adding a touch of natural elegance to your space.