Ficus Lyrata Pruning

(Question)

I have a fiddle leaf fig that has grown a few feet since I purchased it at Canada Blooms 2 years ago. The tree I bought is upright with zero branching…actually its two stalks side-by-side. It was fine and sturdy that first year, but as it continues to grow new leaves I have had to tie bamboo sticks to the skinny stems to avoid droopy trees. What I would really love to do is prune both plants to encourage branching and creating a more tree like appearance, but I am not sure where to begin. I have read many articles on notching the stems or removing the growing tip but really don’t want to mess up and loose my beloved trees. When is the best time to do this and is there a way to control where you want the branching to occur?
I have also read the you have to cut a few leaves down from the top so I was wondering if there were a way to save the cutting and have it root to become another tree?

 

(Answer)

Thank you for contacting Toronto Master Gardeners.

Ficus lyrata is a lovely plant which can be sensitive to change. It is wonderful yours has grown so well.

The Fiddle Leaf Fig has normally drooping branches so what you are seeing is not unusual. When tying anything to branches one must be careful not to damage the stems/trunks with ties or with the added weight of the supports. I am unsure from your description if you are worried the branches will break or if you just prefer not having them droop. If the plant can support the branches then it is preferable to allow the plant to grow within its natural structure.

The Fiddle Leaf Fig is normally a tree with a single leader like a tree. It is best to do any pruning  just before the tree breaks dormancy in the spring. Increasing light levels in the spring prompts the plant to begin new growth.

You are right to take your time planning the pruning of the tree. If you prune off the top or leader you are restricting its height but you may increase the branching. I am not sure how the two main stems attach at the bottom or if they are two totally separate plants. I am also not sure how large the plant is or how many leaves it has. It is difficult to advise you on exactly how to prune your tree without a photo. If you would like to send in a picture, they can be attached when you submit a question.

There is information online about propagating with cuttings. Using growth hormone on the end of the cut and putting it directly into soil seems to be the general technique used. You will need to maintin warmth and humidity around the cutting for an extended period. From what I am seeing the success rate is not high and the result can be a plant that is weaker than its parent. That being said it would be a fun experiment to try.

I have attached a couple of links below about Ficus Lyrata and its care for further reading.

http://www.torontomastergardeners.ca/askagardener/fiddle-leaf-fig-growing-tips/

http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/st254

http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/st254