How to prune a ficus

Ficus are a genus of trees that are very popular among gardening enthusiasts for their great beauty and the little care they need. These are plants that can be had both indoors and outdoors, depending on the specific species and the local climate. There are a large number of types of ficus , counting more than 800 species among them, the most common being some such as the ficus benjamina, the ficus elastica, the ficus lyrata or the ficus pumila.

However, although they are very undemanding plants with their care, one of the most important in their case is pruning, since they are very fast growing trees.

When to prune a ficus

The best time to prune a ficus is almost always at the end of winter , which is when the plant is in vegetative rest, with much less activity, and, therefore, the less sap it will lose and the less damage the pruning will do.

However, if you live in an area with a mild enough climate or without very cold winters, you can also prune your ficus in autumn, since the cold will not be such a worrying factor. Excess branches that are still green, which have not yet been lignified, can be pruned at any time you see fit.

Tools for pruning ficus

The tools required for pruning a ficus are no different from those of most species of its size. A secateurs sharp and properly disinfected before and after use be more than sufficient for the branches of less than 1 cm thick, while the larger branches, and lignified (looks like wood), may require the use of a hand saw , also properly disinfected.

Sterilizing tools is always very important, even between different plants, so as not to spread diseases between them.

How to prune a ficus - Tools for pruning ficus

How to prune a ficus benjamina

The ficus benjamina is characterized by its smaller leaves and its slower growth, although it can reach heights of up to 15 meters. Thus, in small gardens or as an indoor plant, grown in a pot, it will be necessary to perform gentle and constant pruning between one and two times a year, avoiding drastic or very aggressive pruning. To prune the ficus benjamina, follow these tips and steps:

  • Trim all the branches between 2 and 5 cm with scissors or pliers , depending on the size of your ficus. This pruning can be done around the beginning of spring , or a little earlier, and will help control the growth of the plant and give it a thicker and denser crown.
  • The use of ficus benjamina with the bonsai technique is also common. Obviously, the care of a ficus benjamina bonsai requires a lot more care and pruning, although it is still a considerably simple bonsai to care for. In this case, pruning is carried out at the beginning of spring and during spring and summer it is constantly clamped. In autumn the branches are wired to give them the desired shape.

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How to prune a ficus - How to prune a ficus benjamina

How to prune a robust or elastic ficus

When pruning the robust or elastic ficus, care must be taken not to stain the skin with the latex from its stems, which is irritating to the skin and eyes. As in the ficus benjamina, it will be necessary to use pruning shears or a hand saw depending on the thickness of the branch and follow these tips:

  1. Prune all old or damaged branches , including those that do not have leaves, as well as those that are oriented in an undesirable way for the plant.
  2. If you are looking to remove a branch permanently, prune at its growing base , while if you want it to continue growing, do it after a knot .
  3. Remember to always make an oblique cut and not straight.
  4. When the ficus robusta is transplanted, it is usual to also perform a root pruning , which helps the plant to continue developing in a healthy way.
How to prune a ficus - How to prune a robust or elastic ficus

How to prune a ficus so that it grows upwards

If your ficus is developing too horizontally and not upwards, you will need to practice a formation pruning , as we would do with most shrubs or trees. Follow these tips and steps to prune a ficus so that it grows straight up and doesn’t spread out so horizontally:

  1. Find the main branches that you want to develop upwards and prune them severely after a knot , so that their growth is stimulated.
  2. You will see how the pruned branches give rise to new stronger shoots, which you must also prune to control the growth plane of your plant.
  3. It is also vital to remove the branches that you do not want and remove the suckers and diseased branches from the plant, which will rob the others of nutrients.

How to do a drastic pruning in a ficus

Drastic pruning is usually best avoided with these trees, but an old or battered ficus may need rejuvenation pruning to regain good condition. In this case there are two options:

  • If the plant is old but strong, we can cut all its aerial part at ground level, making sure to take care of the cut and providing adequate irrigation and fertilizers.
  • If the ficus does not have a trunk in a minimum good condition that indicates that it does not have enough strength to withstand such a drastic pruning, we will cut half of its branches at the level of their insertion, keeping the others only at half or a third of their length at its strongest bud.

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