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severe Pruning of a young fig tree

5 months ago

We have a fig tree and I wanted to keep it as small as possible before it gets out of control as I know they can grow into massive monsters.
How would it be to simply cut off the 3 main branches at around the point I have indicated with red arrows? Would it not produce fruit next summer? I just want to keep cutting it back every year as much as possible. And if there is less fruit, then so be it. Hoping it will produce fruit long-term if given severe pruning in its early years.
The height of the tree would be around 4.5 feet (140 cm) at the level of the red arrows if cut. We live in northern Spain so it gets very hot in the summer and freezing in the winter.
I don't have much knowledge of anything surrounding gardens in general...
Thank you

Comments (7)

  • 5 months ago

    its yours.. do whatever you want to it...

    but let me ask... why not just get rid of it... it will never FIT in that spot.. so why torture and and yourself trying to force it???? .. restricting it to 4.5 feet is extreme ....

    otherwise. just go for it.. if nothing else.. you will learn how to prune... keep notes and let us know how it impacts future fruiting...

    does it really FREEZE in spain... or are you using the term loosely??? .. i wouldnt expect fig to survive a freeze...


  • 5 months ago

    It appears to be about 6 ft tall in the pic and personally I wouldn't prune it other than 1-2 interior branches which would open up the center to more sunshine and better air circulation a bit more. If it survives the winter (doesn't freeze down to the roots) I'd wait until next year for more pruning to keep it to your desired height.

  • 5 months ago
    last modified: 5 months ago

    Markbriscoe , your fig plant looks like it does well in your winters you must be protecting it.

    Going back to your question yes you can prune it without harm at those spots you show.

    Will it get fruit next season?

    You will be taken off the fruiting branches but they will sprout new ones next season where you make the prune cuts. You may or may not get some ripen fruit next season depending on how early it awakens.

    The following season though will be better as you will have more of a supporting canopy

    to work with.

    Fig plants are pretty tough and take a trimming like a bush does and will keep growing

    as they ALWAYS need to be pruned if the grower wants his plant kept in check.


  • 5 months ago

    Thanks so much for your comments... I should mention that I am not wishing it to be permanently at 4.5 feet. it will grow taller than that of course but hopefully not much more than 10 - 12 feet if I can possibly help it. There are lots of fig trees around in our locality so they must be hardy enough to survive the frost. Yes in northern Spain it goes below freezing point at times.
    Well, I will probably go ahead and make those 3 cuts. Its always good to clarify on forums etc with people who have more experience than I do... Thanks again

  • 5 months ago

    Fruiting fig trees, Ficus carica, are a lot more cold hardy than many suspect. They are certainly frost hardy as frosts are not uncommon in zone 9 and these trees flourish here. In fact, the cultivar Chicago Hardy is good to zone 6 (-10F) but may die back to the roots in a hard winter however will resprout and produce fruit the following season. So hard pruning as indicated is definitely possible but never a requirement unless one wants to keep the tree small. And that is purely a personal objective as the trees never get huge (20-25' typically) and will produce fruit without receiving any pruning attention.

  • 5 months ago

    Below is a pic of our 2 fig trees (Brown Turkey & Celeste > both fruits seem identical to me) they're about 12 ft tall and I wouldn't want them any taller. Last winter I pruned out the center limbs of both "bushes" since they seemed to have a very light crop the year before. This opened them up for more sunlight and this past year they went gang busters, best crops ever. To pick the figs up top I use a long squeeze grabber to pull over a limb which are very flexible and don't snap.

    They have frozen down to the roots on 2 occasions a while back, temp dropped to 3F.

  • 5 months ago

    I have a Brown Turkey fig in a big container that I have struggled to overwinter here (NY zone 6b but now 7a). I haul it i to the coldest room, sink in ghe compost pile, wrap up elaborately. I have yet to have fruit. Maybe I do best to leave it in the ground?