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Fig Tree

Q.How do I prune the fig tree in the pictures to save it.

Zone San Mateo CA 94404 | Anonymous added on February 25, 2020 | Answered

I have my father in law’s fig tree that was in a pot has not been well cared for in recent years and has grown a bit wild. It is now planted in the ground and I would like to ask for pruning advice to have it grow into a healthy tree. Can you look at the attached photos and provide me advice. I would be extremely grateful.

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Certified GKH Gardening Expert
Answered on February 26, 2020

First of all, it appears that the fig may have been planted a little too deep. If that is mulch pile up high over the root crown (flared upper roots where they come off from the lower trunk) then pull back that mulch to clear the root crown; give it a six inch mulch-free zone from the stem(s). If not mulch, but heavy soil, then if it is a recent transplant, consider digging it up and planting at a slightly higher level with the root crown showing above the soil grade. If it's been in a year or more then don't bother, just keep the soil away from the stems as best possible to avoid over wet conditons against the woody stems and crown rot.

Clear the mulch (or soil) away to below the points of origin of the lower branches/leaders. Remove all the multiple lower stems and leave only the largest central leader. That's all I would do at this time. You can do some minor directional pruning as the summer growing season progresses. Shape back the branches going againt the fence and allow the topmost leader and front facing branches to do their own thing, within reason. Don't head back the top central leader, but let it get some height as long as it is growing straight up or angled out toward the front. Tip-prune slightly to suppress any branches that want to grow up and compete or take over the role of central leader.

Send progress photos in August/ September or next year this time, or anytime you have further questions.

Fertilize March, July and October with complete organic fertilizer.

Spray monthly with an insecticide/miticide to prevent mites that spread a fig mosaic virus (the virus can't be controlled so it's important to prevent the mites and the infection.)


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