Ask an Expert: Should I prune the fig tree in my yard?
Yes! Proper pruning will both stimulate growth and help maintain an appealing shape—you can actually cut fig trees back by as much as one-third. Set to work when the plant is still dormant, after the chilliest temps have passed; in Charleston, mid- to late-February is usually a safe bet. Be sure your tools are clean and sharp, then start by removing all dead and diseased branches. Cutting either where the branch meets the trunk or just above a new bud on a branch, thin the interior limbs, allowing the crown to stay open for airflow and light. Remove “sucker” growth from the base of the tree, as well as any branches that are too close to the ground.
Gardening Tip: Get a jump-start on spring by “forcing” blooms indoors. Select budding branches from deciduous plants such as witch hazel, Eastern redbud, Chinese paper bush, magnolia, pear, serviceberry, and flowering quince. Fill a vase with water and floral preservative, give branches a fresh cut at an angle under water, and place them in the vase away from direct light and heat. You should see flowers in a week.