How To Trim A Ficus Tree

In this article, I’ll be teaching you how to trim ficus trees.

In case you didn’t know, ficus trees are among the easiest house plants to grow. For this reason, they are a popular choice for those who are in love with indoor plants.

However, having them is one thing, knowing how to trim them is another.

Stay with me!

About Ficus Trees

Ficus trees are so easy to grow, that they most times outgrow their pot.

These plants hate to be moved, and since they grow so easily, the best bet is to give them a regular prune so they maintain a manageable size.

These trees are not winter-hardy and they can be found growing in tropical as well as subtropical regions. Since they grow heavy around the ends, they are bound to lose their natural arching form.

When Should Ficus Be Trimmed?

The ficus tree needs to be trimmed when it has become overgrown, probably nearing your ceiling. The most common reason for trimming the ficus tree is to control its size. When you notice how large they’ve grown, that is the time to prune.

However, you have to be careful of the specific time to prune. It is recommended you wait until the plant is dormant (when it isn’t actively growing).

Most plants are known to be active during the spring and summer seasons and become inactive during the winter. During this season (winter), they are less prone to injuries sustained from pruning.

That being said, think we can agree that the winter season is the best time to trim your ficus tree. So if it has grown to a point so large, then you know it’s time to trim, but you need to wait until winter to do so.

In a case where you find dead limbs on the tree, you can print them out at any time of the year, as they are dead and it would cause your ficus tree no harm.

Trimming A Ficus Tree Step By Step

You will need a very sharp pair of pruning shears for the job. You have to make sure they are clean (you can sterilize to be sure).

You will also need a pair of rubber gloves to protect your hands from the latex sap that the tree produces. This sap is known to cause irritations to the human skin.

Before you start cutting away, first take a look at the tree and determine the areas that need to be trimmed. If you find that the tree is has grown too tall, then you need to start trimming from the top.

If the ficus tree requires a better silhouette, then work out a plan before you trim.

When you’ve made up your mind about which parts of the tree need to be trimmed, look around those areas, and cut off the dead or broken branches first.

By doing this, you will have a better view of the limbs that need to be cut.

Ficus Trimming Tips

Make your cut just before the growth node. This will allow the new growth to sprout freely and cover the exposed stump.

An extra tip is to cut a branch back to another branch of a similar size. Doing this will prevent unwanted stubs and bring back the desired size and appearance of the tree.

Trim at an angle away from the node (or the second branch). If the ficus is damaged and has a lot of dead limbs, do not prune more than a third of the tree, as that could kill it.

When the plant starts to recover, you can prune out more of it, but only after, not before.

It is recommended that you try this type of pruning when the plant has started to re-sprout, just to be sure you aren’t cutting away any of the recovered limbs.

During this time, make sure you give your ficus plant all the attention it needs, as that will help hasten up its recovery.

How Can I Make My Ficus Grow Thicker?

If you want your focus to grow thicker (that is if it’s not thick enough already), then prune it early in the spring. If you come across very thin spots around your plant, then you can prune to encourage branching.

Pruning in the spring season will promote better foliage growth in the following season.

How to Care for an Indoor Ficus Tree

As you must have learned, the ficus tree requires low maintenance, being that it is a tropical tree. As with most tropical trees, they need bright light and even moisture. These trees do not require pruning in their healthy state, they are also not a pests favorite. Lucky you!

To get the best from your ficus tree, make sure you give them daily access to bright, indirect light. If your ficus tree is by the window, a great tip is to rotate the position of your ficus tree so that access to light and leaf coloration will be constant among all parts of the tree.

You also need to water your ficus tree regularly. You should water to a point where the soil has even moisture, at least an inch beneath the surface.

Letting the soil dry out below this level is bad for your tree. This is because the leaves will shrink and start dropping in drought-like conditions.

If you find that the leaves are turning yellow and are not shriveling, then that could be a sign that the plant is being overwatered.

Fertilizing your ficus tree once a month is also recommended. You can use a general-purpose domestic plant fertilizer for this. Make sure the fertilizer is water-soluble.

Take half of the adequate amount of fertilizer and add to a full ratio of water, then pour it on the soil and roots.

As you water, be sure to give your ficus a light grooming. This involves taking out the dead branches. If you find any dead fallen leaves, be sure to take them out of the pot. Fresh fallen leaves can be used as mulch, which will help the soil maintain its moisture.

Another top is to take your Ficus tree and place it under the shower so any dust on it will be rinsed off. Keep the flow of the shower very low as you do this.

When you are done giving the tree its “bath”, gently shake the stem to get rid of excess water before returning the plant to its normal position.

Types of Ficus Trees

The ficus tree has about 850 species, making it a very diversified plant. They all have binding features, but a few differences as well.

While I cannot talk about all 800+ species, I can discuss the more popular ones. By understanding which species of ficus tree you are buying, you would know what to expect when it’s time to trim them.

Ficus benjamina

This is arguably the most popular ficus tree in the world. It is made up of beautiful green leaves that appear glossy.

This species can thrive in conditions with little light and water. Amazingly, it grows fast and can reach a height of about 13 feet.

Having this at the back of your mind, you should know the kind of pruning work to expect if you choose to buy this species.

The ficus benjamina is known to shed its leaves when moved from its favored position or moved to an unfavorable habitat. The leaves it sheds can be used as mulch as long as they are not dead.

Ficus lyrata

This species is popularly used as an ornamental plant. It has very large leaves that grow up to 1 ½ foot in length. This means you’ll have a lot to deal with when trimming.

This species thrives best at moderate temperatures of about 72°F.

Ficus elastica or Rubber Ficus tree

This species of ficus is a rubber tree, and it’s a mix of several other species of ficus trees. They are native to the Asian tropical forest

If you decide to buy this tree, then you’d better be an expert with pruning shears, because they can grow as tall as 130 feet high up! They also have very large leaves

It thrives best in free-drained soil.

Ficus microcarpa, the Easy Bonsai

This ficus tree specie grows as a twisting aerial root with its uniqueness lies in the fact that its leaves grow directly from the root itself. For this reason, many don’t consider it to be a tree or shrub. But if it isn’t, then what do we call it?

This specie of ficus is among the smallest there is. It grows to a height of just 3 feet at full maturity. Because of its small nature, it is best used as an ornamental plant.

Maintaining this tree is as easy as you can imagine.


Thanks for reading this piece on how to trim a ficus tree. I hope it was helpful.

Take care!

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