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Last Updated:September 14, 2023

How to Prune a Fiddle Leaf Fig? (Avoid These Common Mistakes)

featured-pruning fiddle leaf fig

Do you need help pruning Fiddle Leaf Fig plants? Or how to have a tree-like or a bushy plant? Maybe you don’t know how to prune a Fiddle Leaf Fig, what is the best time to prune or how to notch a Fiddle Leaf Fig? Perhaps you’re unsure if you should cut off yellow or brown leaves? You will learn everything you need to know about trimming and pruning Fiddle Leaf Fig plants and after-pruning plant care in this article.

Fiddle Leaf Fig trimming is the removal of plant’s parts to change its size and shape, and maintain or improve growth. Pruning and trimming help keep Fiddle Leaf Fig plants healthy and attractive. They’re often an important part of a long-term maintenance strategy for both young and established plants.

Can You Trim A Fiddle Leaf Fig?

Yes, you can trim a Fiddle Leaf Fig. Trimming and pruning are common practices in houseplant maintenance, in the below listed situations:

  • for aesthetic purposes – to encourage new branches to grow or keep growth under control
  • in case of diseases
  • in case of overwatering
  • for propagation
Pruning shears, flower rake, and garden spatula hanging on the brick wall

Pruning shears and gardening tools

Do Fiddle Leaf Figs Need Pruning?

No, Fiddle Leaf Fig plants don’t necessarily need pruning if they’re healthy. Fiddle Leaf Fig pruning can be done if your plant suffers from a disease. In this case, all infected or diseased parts of Fiddle Leaf should be removed. You can also prune when you want to propagate a Fiddle Leaf Fig, to take a cutting. You can also prune when you want to alter their shape and size.

How To Prune Your Fiddle-Leaf Fig?

To prune your Fiddle Leaf Fig plant, follow the steps below:

  • Prepare tools – To begin with, use a sharp pair of pruning shears. Always clean them before use. Wipe, spray, or dip blades in rubbing alcohol to prevent infections.
  • Plan – Before you start pruning a Fiddle Leaf Fig, make a plan. Would you like a classic tree shape or do you prefer a bushy look? Do you want to encourage branching or make the plant less tall? Are there any dead or diseased leaves that must be removed? Once you access the health of your Fiddle Fig and decide on the shape, move on to the next step.
  • Prune – Start by trimming all the unhealthy parts you marked for removal earlier. Proceed to remove some of the crowded branches. In case they’re crossing and impeding each other’s growth, address some parts to make more airflow. How to prune Fiddle Leaf Fig trees and where to make a cut? Trim the parts just above a node. This is a spot on the stem where leaves attach and this is where new branches will grow. Pay attention not to crush or damage the stem. If you’re pruning a branch, try to cut about half an inch from the trunk as this will allow the plant to heal without risk of infection to the main trunk.
  • Besides pruning for health reasons, another reason has to do with aesthetics. You may want to alter the look of your plant. Remove all growth that doesn’t fit into the shape you desire. For tree-shaped Fiddle Leaf Fig plants, remove lower leaves and branches. To achieve a bushy look, and encourage Fiddle Leaf Fig branching, trim the top part of the plant. Also, remove any unsightly growth that’s disturbing the balance in Fig’s shape.
  • Plant care after pruning – Fiddle Figs require lots of light for healthy growth. After trimming and pruning, place your Fig in front of the brightest window in your home. If healthy, your plant should grow two branches below the cut. Consider using grow lights if your Fig plant isn’t getting plenty of natural light in your home.

How To Prune An Overgrown Ficus Lyrata?

To prune an overgrown Ficus Lyrata, decide on the shape and size first. Once you’ve figured out how you want the Fiddle Fig to look, go ahead and prune it. You’ll want to remove any growth that doesn’t fit within that ideal shape and size. If the plant is too tall, trim the top part. If it grows unsightly branches, remove them until you’re happy with how your Fiddle Leaf Fig looks.

How To Prune A Dying Fiddle Leaf Fig (Ficus Lyrata)?

Prune a dying Ficus Lyrata by removing all the dead parts. In case the plant is dying due to overwatering, prune dead leaves first and all the stems and branches that are soft. If the problem comes from diseases, any diseased parts of the plant should be pruned too. Cut back as much as necessary to remove all infected parts. Use a sharp pair of pruning shears and sterilize them to prevent new infections.

Mr. Houseplant is holding a couple of his Fiddle Leaf trees

A couple of my Fiddle Leaf Fig trees

How To Prune A Leggy Fiddle Leaf Fig?

To prune a leggy Fiddle Leaf Fig, use a sharp pair of pruning shears and cut back until you get rid of leggy parts. You can also go for a technique called “notching”. Instead of removing empty parts of the tree, you encourage new growth in places that have no leaves. To notch a Fiddle Leaf Fig, pick a spot where you want new branches to grow. Locate a node and make a cut above it. You’re not cutting off but simply making cuts in a stem. The goal is not to lose branches and leaves but to get more growth within the existing structure of your plant.

Pruning Fiddle Leaf Fig Bush Into A Tree

For pruning a Fiddle Leaf Fig bush into a tree, remove the bottom leaves. Before you prune for aesthetic reasons, make sure that your Fiddle Leaf has plenty of green, healthy leaves remaining. Only remove the bottom leaves if you’re sure there are enough leaves left for the plant to grow healthy.

Fiddle Fig tree with big green leaves in a wicker basket

Fiddle Fig tree-like shape

Where to cut a Fiddle Leaf Fig?

Where to cut a Fiddle Leaf Fig depends on the reason you want to prune your plant. When propagating, only cut a stem from 2 to about 8 inches long. For adjusting size and shape, cut growth that doesn’t fit within your ideal shape or height. If you’re pruning to remove a disease, cut off all parts that are infected.

How Far Back Can You Cut A Fiddle Leaf Fig?

How far back you can cut a Fiddle Leaf Fig depends on the reason you’re pruning your plant:

  • When you want to take a cutting – Aim for 2-8 inches long cuttings. You’ll get smaller cuttings for small plants and bigger cuttings for established Fiddle Leaf Figs.
  • When a disease occurs – Cut as far as you need in order to remove all diseased parts.
  • When the plant is overwatered – In the stem is soft due to too much moisture, you’ll want to prune all the soft tissue. Keep going until you get to hard tissue. Cut back as far as necessary to remove all soft tissue from the plant.
  • Another less common example of pruning Fiddle Leaf Fig includes cutting the plant all the way to the ground. This pruning method can be useful for experienced plant owners, especially in outdoor gardening. Cutting the entire Fig should encourage vigorous new growth. It can rejuvenate the plant in case it is too leggy or only has the leaves in its top section. However, inexperienced plant parents should steer clear of this technique.

In case you’re wondering – “Can I cut a Fiddle Leaf Fig in half” – the answer is yes. You can cut a Fiddle Leaf Fig in half if you want to make it shorter or have it branch out.

Can I Cut The Top Off A Fiddle Leaf Fig?

Yes, you can cut the top off Fiddle Leaf Fig plants. Pruning Fiddle Leaf Fig from the top is usually done when the plant becomes too tall. The best look is usually achieved by keeping the top of the plant about 10 inches below the ceiling. Any growth above this height can be pruned. If you’re not sure how to prune the top of Fiddle Leaf Fig, there’s good news. You remove the top of the plant by using a sharp, sterilized tool and cutting the parts you find unsightly.

Can I Cut The Stem Of My Fiddle Leaf Fig?

Yes, you can cut the stem of your Fiddle Leaf Fig. You can propagate the stem and the cut will stimulate new growth below the cut.

When Is The Best Time To Prune A Fiddle Leaf Fig?

The best time of year to prune a Fiddle Leaf Fig is any time of year. Unlike outdoor plants that are usually pruned in spring, early summer, indoor plants can be pruned, trimmed, repotted, and propagated anytime.

What Do You Do When Your Fiddle Leaf Fig Gets Too Tall?

When your Fiddle Leaf Fig gets too tall, you can trim it to maintain the desired height. If you’re wondering how to keep Fiddle Leaf Fig from getting too tall, you can do so by regular pruning. Once you figure out how tall you want a Fiddle Leaf Fig to be, simply remove any growth above the desired height.

How To Get Your Fiddle Leaf Fig To Branch?

To get your Fiddle Leaf Fig trees to branch, prune them regularly. Fiddle Leaf Fig pruning will encourage branching. Healthy Fiddle Leaf Figs that receive a sufficient amount of light will grow multiple branches if you prune them correctly.

How To Notch a Fiddle Leaf Fig?

To notch a Fiddle Leaf Fig, first decide where you want new branches to grow. Then find a node that is directly above where the desired branches will be. Once you’ve located the node, make a rectangular cut above it. Make sure the cut is wider that the node. Regarding the depth of the cut, you should remove the bark and cambium. Then just be patient. It can take several weeks or even several months for a new shoot to start growing.

Take a look at the below video of Rubber Tree notching. The principles of Fiddle Leaf Fig notching will be the same.

How does notching Fiddle Leaf Figs work? A growth regulator auxin is what forces lower buds on a stem to remain dormant. Auxin flows from actively growing shoots downward in a plant. When we remove the bark and cambium above a node, we’re preventing auxin from reaching the node below the cut. This enables dormant buds to start growing.

An image of different layers inside the trunk with the caption for each trunk layer

Bark and cambium are the first two outer layers on a Fiddle Leaf Fig (Image Source:

Imagine a shallow stream of water. If you put a large rock in the middle of the stream, the water will start flowing around the rock. The notch we’re making is the rock. The stream is the stream of auxin. The same way water would flow around the rock, auxin will flow around a dormant bud. Which makes it possible for a new bud to start growing.

How Long Does It Take For Notching To Work On Fiddle Leaf Figs?

It can take anywhere from several weeks to even several months for notching to work on Fiddle Leaf Figs. If you notch the plant during its dormant season, you might need to wait several months to see new shoots.

Notch on Fiddle Leaf Fig

After notching, this Fiddle Leaf Fig grew a new leaf underneath the cut

Why Isn’t Notching On My Fiddle Leaf Fig Working?

There are several reasons why notching on a Fiddle Leaf Fig isn’t working:

  1. The cut is not wide enough
  2. The cut is too shallow
  3. It’s too early

The cut has to be wider than the node itself, otherwise auxin will continue blocking the bud from growing. Try to go for 1/8-1/4″ wider than the petiole.

The cut has to be deep enough. You need to remove the bark and the vascular cambium layer beneath it to stop the flow of auxing and enable dormant buds to grow. If you aren’t succesful in removing cambium, use a knife to scrape of the remaining tissue until you reach the sapwood.⠀

It can take a long time for new shoots on Fiddle Leaf Fig to grow – even 6 or more months. Fiddle Leaf Figs grow relatively slowly.⠀

A lush Fiddle Leaf Fig plant in the pot with big dark green leaves

A lush Fiddle Leaf Fig plant

Should I Cut The Bottom Leaves Off My Fiddle Leaf Fig?

You shouldn’t cut the healthy bottom leaves (lower leaves) and branches off your Fiddle Leaf Fig. It can be done in case you want to alter the shape and achieve a tree form, but make sure the plant has a lot of healthy leaves remaining. You can also remove the bottom leaves when you are dealing with sick leaves, a disease, or brown spots due to overwatering.

How Do You Remove Dead Leaves From A Fiddle Leaf Fig?

To remove dead leaves from a Fiddle Leaf Fig, first prepare a sharp pair of pruning shears. Sterilize pruning tools with rubbing alcohol before use to prevent infections. Assess the plant’s health to identify which leaves are dead and need removing. Leaves that are brown, dry, and crunchy are dead. You should cut them at the petiole, close to the main trunk. After cutting off dead leaves, dispose of them.

Should I Cut Brown Leaves Off My Fiddle Leaf Fig?

If the brown leaves are diseased or dead, yes, you should cut the brown leaves off your Fiddle Leaf Fig. Sick leaves may spread infections. And dead leaves do not do anything for the plant. They are just unsightly, so it’s safe to remove them.

If the leaves only have slight brown sport and you’re sure it’s not a disease, you don’t need to remove them. It’s just an aesthetic issue.

Should I Cut Yellow Leaves Off Fiddle Leaf Figs?

No, you should not cut yellow leaves off Fiddle Leaf Figs. Those leaves are still alive and contain nutrients. As a leaf becomes yellow, the plant moves mobile nutrients from it to other parts of the plant. These mobile nutrients are lost when the yellow leaf is removed. That’s why you should let nature take its course – once the nutrients have been moved to the part of the plant that needs them the most, the leaf will turn brown and fall off. When this happens, you’ll know that your Fiddle Leaf plant has used all the nutrients from it.

However, if you dislike the look of the yellow leaves, and your plant has plenty of healthy green leaves, it’s safe to cut off yellow leaves.

A yellow leaf among green ones on a plant

Yellow leaf on a Fiddle Leaf Fig tree

Pruning Fiddle Leaf Fig In Winter

Yes, you can safely prune Fiddle Leaf Fig in winter. You will most likely not get new growth until spring, but you can still prune.

Can I Prune A Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree In Summer?

Yes, you can prune a Fiddle Leaf tree in summer. Summer is it’s growing season and the plant should be actively growing during that time. It can still sometimes take a few weeks or months to see new growth, so be patient.

Can I Prune The Roots Of My Fiddle Leaf Fig?

Yes, you can prune the roots of your Fiddle Leaf Fig. Pruning Fiddle Leaf Fig roots can be beneficial if some parts of the root system are dead, diseased, mushy, smelly, etc. You can also trim the roots if the plant has outgrown its current pot and you don’t want to repot it into a larger pot. Just bare in mind that pruning healthy roots is stressful for the plant. By removing roots, you’re removing some of the food reserves of the plant.

Let me know if you need any help, drop your questions in the comments below.

Yours Truly,



  1. Yolanda October 18, 2022 at 5:28 pm - Reply

    Good morning Mr. Houseplant,

    I hope this message finds you well. I have two FLF that were purchased at the same time… mine has been thriving since day one. I have since then adopted my coworkers FLF whom I’ve named Bones, you can imagine why. After months of TLC he finally sprouted 7 leaves last week!!! He has three small stems, and I am tempted to notch him in the near future. Do you have any suggestions?

    • MrHouseplant October 22, 2022 at 6:31 am - Reply

      Hi Yolanda, it looks like you’ve been doing a good job, since Bones sprouted so many leaves :) I’m assuming you are replicating the conditions that your FLF has. If that is the case, I wouldn’t change anything. You can notch it, but be very patient. It can take months for the notching to result in a new shoot.

  2. Azi March 23, 2023 at 7:03 pm - Reply

    Hello. I really find your article educational. I just a want to make sure that i will be doing the right thing before I make this drastic move.. I have a fiddle leaf fig tree that i want to cut to improve the appearance. Can i cut back the trunk and leave no leaves for it to branch out? I made a few notches before but was not successful. That’s why i want to cut the trunk to remove the notches too. It’s spring time so I’m hoping that it will make a difference.
    Thank you.

    • MrHouseplant April 2, 2023 at 8:21 am - Reply

      Hi Azi, unless you are very experienced, I don’t suggest cutting off the whole trunk and leaving the plant with no leaves. When it comes to notches, it can take several months to get results, even a year. It’s important to make the cut wide enough and deep enough for this to work. Here is my video on how to do this on a rubber tree: Make sure to read the full caption on the video.

      If you decide to prune the whole tree, make sure to reduce watering frequency and amount. Always check the soil with a chopstick before watering.

      You could also try applying keiki paste on the naked parts of the tree. I know it works on pothos, I have yet to try it on Fiddle Leaf Figs though :)

  3. Coral April 7, 2023 at 1:28 am - Reply

    Hello, Mr. Houseplant!

    Such great info! Thank you!

    I had a healthy, tall (8ft) FLF that I put outside (due to lack of space) and I was required for a while to keep it on my patio (by my landlord, no need for details) where it got beaten up by the sun and then it was heavily invested by aphids.) It was ragged and bug invested and blew over in a storm. Anyways… in the middle of winter I chopped it off around 5′ tall with no leaves on it… just a strong trunk. I figured if it wanted to live it could and we’d go from there. And I basically stopped watering it. Now! It’s sprouting MANY new leaves all along the trunk. But it shows no sign of branching.

    So my questions… Will it eventually grow taller and branch? Or have I effectively created a short bush? And, right now it’s in full sun. Will it adjust to these conditions since it’s all new growth and that’s all the new leaves know? Or should I move it inside (or at least outside where it’s out of direct sun)?

    Thank you for your insights! I’m thrilled it’s putting out new leaves and looks like it might come back.

    Thank you!

    • MrHouseplant April 8, 2023 at 9:51 pm - Reply

      Hi Coral, thank you so much! I invest a lot of time into these posts, so I’m always happy to hear that someone enjoys my content :)

      Are you able to send me a photo through Instagram or Facebook? I would be happy to take a look. I would expect it to branch out after pruning. And it will continue to grow taller, don’t worry. Regarding the sun, fiddle leaf figs are full sun plants, but they can burn in direct sunlight if they are not gradually acclimated to it.

      Usually leaves grown in full sun should be already adapted to it. Don’t move it inside, they change in light can cause the plant to drop leaves, the soil might stay wet for too long or you might start getting brown spots on leaves. You can move it to a spot outdoors without direct sun. Then gradually over the course of several weeks, acclimate the plant to full sun (give it 1-2 hours of early morning direct sun for a week, then innrease gradually every week the number of direct sun exposure).

  4. Barb April 28, 2023 at 5:52 pm - Reply

    I got this plant 2yrs ago for Mother’s Day. I have transplanted it once and added worm castings in the soil when doing so. I would like to cut it back about 3 ft and use the top to start a new plant. Also be able to keep the original plant. Any advice would be helpful

    • MrHouseplant May 3, 2023 at 4:08 am - Reply

      Hi Barb, I highly suggest not leaving the bottom section (original plant) without leaves. A 3-feet long cutting will be very difficult if not impossible to root. I would suggest cutting it in smaller pieces, so that each piece has 2 nodes that can be under water or soil, trying to root, and that each piece has at least a leaf or two. Let me know if you have additional questions :)

  5. Kristen April 29, 2023 at 7:38 pm - Reply

    Help! I have two FLF (first timer) that are about 3’ tall. BOTH lost all of their leaves (I suspect due to shipping trauma); I’ve left them alone but in sunny locations and with drier soil. Both FLFs now have small shoots/leaves growing from the bottom 6-12” of the trunk. Do I need to prune the trunk above those (both were previously pruned to have two branches splitting off the main trunk, making a “V”), or just leave it? Thank you!

    • MrHouseplant May 3, 2023 at 4:03 am - Reply

      Hi Kristen, you can leave it, no need to prune the main trunk. You can consider notching it in a few places, to try and encourage new shoots along the main trunk. It can take several months for new shoots to show up and it’s extremely important to do it properly, to notch wide enough and deep enough (but not too deep). Make sure to check out my video on notching up the post.

      The most likely reason the plants lost their leaves is due to overwatering or underwatering, they might’ve stayed too wet or too dry during transport or after arriving at your home. Make sure the soil is fully dry to the bottom of the pot before watering them and also make sure to provide sufficient light, at least 5,000 lux. Hope this helps :)

      • Jeri May 30, 2023 at 3:12 am - Reply

        Hello Mr Houseplant, I have a 12’ tall Fiddle Fig (Figgie) tree in the corner of 2 windows where it’s loving it. My problem is that it’s one trunk with 3 branches at the same junction that have grown like crazy to the point Ive strapped all 3 branches up from falling over. The trunk where the branches are all coming out hasn’t grown really just the 3 branches. How do I prune this? I can send pics if you would like to see it. Thank you kindly!

        • MrHouseplant June 24, 2023 at 6:34 am - Reply

          Hi Jeri, if the 3 branches have a lot of leaves, you can prune them, but to the level where there will still be some leaves left on each of the branches.

          Or you can air layer one of the branches, and once it roots, cut it off and start a new plant. Let me know if this helps. If not, you can DM me a photo on Instagram.

  6. Alex Fontova May 6, 2023 at 10:58 pm - Reply

    Wow this article is exactly what I needed!!

    In the middle of a FLF existential crisis. We have moved several times with our FLF and had it for almost 6 years now. He started as a 2 ft plant and is now almost 10 ft! But sooo top heavy and I’ve been putting off doing anything about it because it’s become a family member and I’m worried about killing it! But I really think it’s time for drastic measures to create a healthier plant.

    The bottom 4-5 ft if the plant do not have any leaves but the top if bright green glossy and adding new leaves still. My plan was to trim off a few trimmings from the top to hopefully have success propagating a few then doing a dramatic cut (which I see you say is best for the experts…). Would love any and all advice!!!

    • MrHouseplant May 21, 2023 at 6:19 pm - Reply

      Hi Alex, congrats on having a beautiful healthy plant for such a long time!

      You can put a screw in the ceiling and then tie the top of the plant to keep it up. Or tie the plant to a chandelier or a ceiling fan, if you have one.

      If the plant is top heavy, try putting it in a heavier pot, so it doesn’t fall over.

      You can also try notching the lower part of the stem, with the goal of it becoming bushier. It can take several months for notching to produce results though :)

  7. Adrienne May 28, 2023 at 2:54 pm - Reply

    Hello, I have a FLF that lost all its leaves except one at the top, which has some brown spots. It is now sprouting leaves at the bottom. Should I prune the top now to remove the spotted leaf or notch? Thank you!

    • MrHouseplant May 29, 2023 at 5:42 am - Reply

      Hi Adrienne, do not remove the top leaf from your Fiddle Leaf Fig. That is the only leaf that is photosynthesizing and producing food for the rest of the plant. If you remove it, the plant will have to rely on the food reserves, and if it doesn’t have enough of them, it’s more likely to not survive. If you remove the top leaf, it will also be easier to overwater the plant.

      You should also address the conditions that led to your plant losing all leaves – most likely too little light and too much water. Please take a look at my articles of Fiddle Leaf Fig light requirements and Fiddle Leaf Fig Watering 🙂

      • Adrienne May 29, 2023 at 7:56 pm - Reply

        Ok thank you for your help! When I got it, it started to get brown spots so I repotted it and then thought I might be overwatering it so I kind of stopped watering but then looked into proper watering which I think helped rehab it which is why it’s now sprouting leaves from the bottom going up.

  8. Sandra September 1, 2023 at 3:02 am - Reply

    Loved your article! I have many plants including 3 flf ranging is size. I have cut the top off the biggest twice, propagated and gave to friends. I think they are as easy to take care of that people get nervous and second guess themselves. All are in direct full sunlight in front of west windows. Of course it took a minute to be able to leave them there all day. Thanks for the article! I just notched 1 stem and 2 buds are already coming out! Gotta love em

    • MrHouseplant September 4, 2023 at 10:25 am - Reply

      Hi Sandra, thank you very much! I am so glad you liked the article! I agree, fiddle leaf figs are easy if you know a few things about their care 😊

      Do you have photos of the notch and new buds? I would love to post them in this blog post, and I would be happy to list your name as the photographer, if that’s ok with you

  9. Kim October 5, 2023 at 3:12 am - Reply

    Hello, thank you for your article!!!! Very informative. Quick question (hopefully!) I have FLF that is approx 10 years old, and has grown very tall and a little sad. The pot has 3 tall stems coming out of it and and all of the stems have leaves at the top only. I want to give it a really good trim but don’t want to kill it. If I cut back 2 of the stems and leave 1 with leaves, will this be enough to keep it living, or do I need to keep leaves on all 3 stems? Thanks for your time and help!!

    • MrHouseplant October 23, 2023 at 2:19 am - Reply

      Hi Kim, the 2 most common reasons for a Fiddle Leaf Fig only having leaves at the top is lack of light and inadequate watering (too much or too little). The plant can only support a certain number of leaves based on the amount of light it’s getting. If you want more leaves, measure the amount of light the plant is getting with a light meter and increase it. Try also providing the plant with more direct sun.

      Increasing the amount of light will provide the plant with more energy and it will be able to support a higher number of leaves than what it currently has.

      The second reason for a plant only having leaves at the top is because it’s either getting overwatered or underwatered. To correct this only water when the soil is fully dry, but don’t wait until the leaves become droopy and start falling off. Use a chopstick to check the soil, stick it all the way down to the bottom of the pot and if it comes out clean and dry, water the plant.

      Another thing you can do to increase the number of leaves is notching. It’s crucial that it’s done properly, otherwise nothing will happen. I described how to notch in this article. It can take several months to see results though, to be patient.

      If you really want to prune, you can prune 2 stems and leave one stem alone. You will need to reduce the amount and frequency of watering, because the transpiration will be lower (because the plant has a smaller number of leaves). You can propagate the cut off stems.

      Good luck 🙂

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