Pruning Fig Trees – Family Plot

– So I’m here with Mr Bill. We’re at the Memphis Botanic Gardens and we’re
gonna prune some figs. – What’s left of some figs. – What’s left of some figs. – We’ve already had an abnormally warm spring. – [Chris] Yes we have. – Before Spring got here, in fact. And figs, which are a tender plant, had started
to put out. Normally they would not have produced any
fresh leaves until at least May, and some of them in June. So we’ve had an unusual growth. We also had four days of cold weather, extremely
cold for this time of year, last week. And so on our fig trees we have what only
a few days ago were nice green new growth, as far as the fig is concerned. Now we have two things here, as far as taking
care of the figs. If you prune too early, which we’re not going
to prune too early for this year because of the give and take of the weather, these have
died back and this time we don’t know to what extent. Because each one of these leaf nodes, which
is just a little lump right on the side of the tree, is a potential for a bud. These budded out and then got hit with 34
degrees weather and being a very tender plant it just curled up and died on us, and dried
out in a few days. Now, if some of the figs have not put out
at all, do not be concerned if yours doesn’t. In fact, the one that hasn’t put out yet may
be in better shape than the one that did and then got frozen back. But there again, that’s not for the home owner
to worry about because even if we had to say this tree is not going to bear for the year
and why are we even fooling with it, you can take a saw, four, five inches off the ground,
take the whole thing out, and before the season’s over, if you treated it properly, it will
be anywhere from six to eight feet tall. – Alright Mr Bill, we’re gonna let you have
at it. We’re gonna let you start pruning this fig
tree for us. – Well, first thing we need to look at on
this tree, we want a good sturdy branch to support the bulk of the tree. When you look at this, it had, at one time,
a single trunk. Now, from the old trunk dying out, the two,
four, six, eight, 10, 12, about 14 small ones. Now you don’t want that. So you select. This is one of the sturdier ones. That’s a sturdy one down at the base. But those others are laying on the ground. That’s what they’re gonna do when they mature. They get up here and run out like these little
bunchy ones here. As they grow the weight’ll get to ’em, they’re
down at the ground anyway, and it’ll pull it to the ground and pop the stump out. – [Chris] I gotcha. – So you wanna pick out two, three, maybe
four and take out all the immature ones around it. These leaf nodes right here are pointing all
different directions. If you cut it in here where the leaf nodes
are thick you’re gonna get a burst of little limbs in there. Very desirable for a small tree. And you want limbs with leaf nodes for making
fruit, not a long spindly plant like this one has got. Alright, if you wanna have figs to eat but
you don’t have a huge amount of space then you might want to come in here about head
height and do your cutting. The problem is, if you do your cutting too
soon as some of us have done, because I had to, I was shaping my tree for visual effect
as well as bearing fruit. But by pruning it back early this is a fairly
hollow stem right here. If you get a little moisture in here and then
the frost hits it, it will just explode the limb, occasionally, if it’s extreme. So we’ve got six leaders here. I would take two more out. Most gardeners do not prune as much as needed
to be pruned. They’re always afraid they’re going to ruin
the plant, whether it’s a fig plant, any of the fruits that cluster on there. You’re doing yourself a disfavor if you don’t
thin ’em out. The ones who are here to Memphis Botanic Gardens,
when we had an orchard here, we had a rule of five inches apart on prune. People get very upset when you tell them that,
but you’ll have more poundage of fruit if you’ve properly pruned it than if you just
let it stay there. Also, when you make a cut this severe, pick
out where you want the replacement limb to come. You’ve got a marker there already on the plant
where the leaf node’s gonna come out, so that one, if cut off here, is gonna go this direction. And if you can get several leaf nodes in here
on a cut like that, then you come up with a lot more fruiting because this is gonna
throw a cluster of new growth. – [Chris] Gotcha. – If you wanna root you some plants from this,
five new leaf nodes from your trimming. At least two leaf nodes, I prefer three, below
soil level, two above, so that you’ve got a place for the first green limbs to come
out. So that’s just the basic way. That one doesn’t need to be in here at all. It’s running parallel to the ground, not upright. – There you go. – Okay, so started coming around. One more cut. And now we have, we gotta take that one out. Some one who needs a plant, you pick it up,
there are not any roots on that one so we can take the whole thing out. And that is basically
the shape, a basic shape. – Basic shape.

10 thoughts on “Pruning Fig Trees – Family Plot

  1. In memphis you can expect six feet of growth in a session so if you add that to the six feet the fig tree was pruned at you will be picking fruit way up in the air . I prefer to prune mine down to the top of a stump 18 inches of the ground . This allows me to use my lawnmower around the trunk.

  2. Great info. We used to rent out our house and moved in with our mom and dad to take care of them. When they passed on we moved back into our house and I noticed that the renters, besides tearing up the house, had cut the fig tree down. It is growing like the one on the video. Many many branches. Of course the birds get them all, but I needed to know if I should cut it or what. My grandma had many fig trees that were full and she used to collect $1 for people to pick a big coffee can full. I hope this cutting of the low branches will thicken up the tree. Thanks

  3. Does this method work for most fig varieties? I’d hate to be wrong and ruin the crop for an entire year!

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