Fig tree with few branches

So I’ve had this fig tree for about 2 years now, the first year it didn’t do much of course, just 1 fig, the second, 5 or 6; so going into the 3rd spring here in New England (it’s still inside) and it’s healthy enough but doesn’t have a lot of branches either. Just a long main trunk about 3 feet tall and a few branches coming off of that. Should I do something to encourage more growth? Or maybe this is normal?

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Feed it and it will grow like a weed.

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You could also head it back to encourage more lateral branching. And heading back laterals will encourage the growth of secondary laterals. Also, I don’t know what size that pot is, but up-potting it (and perhaps giving it a light root pruning) might encourage more vigor.


I’m not sure what “heading back” means exactly, can you elaborate or point me to a link for more info?

I’ve been using a liquid fertilizer, Neptune Harvest since I brought it out of hibernation. Any other recommendations? I really want some figs!

Heading back means to cut off much of the top to encourage lower growth. Figs bear on new growth. To maximize yield, you need lots of new growth.

I’d cut it off below the lowest branch. That may seem extreme. But I regularly cut them back even lower to maximize the number of cuttings to root or sell. When you do that, the tree responds with lots of new growth.


“Heading back” just means to cut away the growing tip–just above a nice, outward pointing bud.

EDIT: @fruitnut is (as usual :wink: ) giving good advice here. A hard heading back is what this fig needs.


Figs grow best in full sun, can’t expect much from indoors where sun is too restricted. Find an all day sunny spot outdoors and keep it potted, head back a bit and observe response
Kent, wa


I can’t wait to get it outside for sure! I’m hoping to buy some pruning shears this weekend and will start the trimming. Thanks for your advice everybody!

My in ground Chicago Hardy… in year 4 here in Tennessee. Those shoots grow 11 ft tall or so each year. Produces 400 or so figs mid August into November.

It gets all day sun on a southern slope just off a tall brick wall. Compost and organic fertilizer and mulch. Southern heat works wonders on figs.



I assume you must be in a northern climate which may explain you having it indoors. If that is the case you may want to prune to maximize the Breba crop as the main crop would probably not ripen for you.
This video by Bob Duncan is what I follow for pruning to maximize growth of one year old wood each year.
Pruning video for Breba crop in cool climates: How to prune figs in a cool climate for first (breba) crop fig production - YouTube

Another trick many others in Seattle area use is to plant the tree in a root pruning pot and once the roots begin to grow thru the bottom of the pot, you cut the bottom out of the pot and allow the tree roots to continue into the ground. But you keep the upper roots in the black pot whic absorbs heat and tricks the tree into thinking it’s time to fruit earlier than if all roots are buried in the ground. (As the sun warms the pot and the roots inside, the tree begins its fruiting much earlier than normal in a cool climate).
Kent, wa

Interesting, I will finally get a chance to check out the video this weekend. Thanks!

I just noticed this thread. I have a lot of experience with potted figs – I’ve got >100.

You tree (OP) has an ideal structure for a tree that is ~2 years old – a central leader and 4 good scaffolds. If you plan to leave it in the same pot, which looks relatively small, this is all you need. Give it sunshine >8 hours per day, fertilizer every couple weeks May-July, and water every day especially July and August. At the end of the season, cut the branches back severely leaving two stubs on each scaffold with 1-3 nodes each for next year’s growth.

If you can up pot the tree to a 10-25 g pot, you can incorporate a permanent fork into each scaffold. If this is your goal, cut back each scaffold to 18-24" and when shoots appear, remove all but two on each scaffold. Let these grow and fruit this year. At the end of the year cut back these sub-scaffold branched to ~18-24". Next year let 2 fruiting shoots grow from each of the sub-scaffolds. At the end of that season, cut the growth on the sub-scaffolds back to 2 stubs as described above.

So for a small tree, you end up with 4 x 2 = 8 fruiting shoots each season. No more. For a larger tree, you end up with 4 x 2 x 2 fruiting shoots.


Show off! What an awesome tree!

@Bribri – You won’t be able to replicate this growth in New England. But you SHOULD take away the lesson that a heavily fruiting fig tree would not be short and bushy with tons of small shoots and crowded leaves. The pictured tree has roughly a 12-15 fruiting verticals, each with ~30 fruits – >400 total. In a 10-15 g pot in New England, you could reasonably aspire to 75-100 fruits. In a 20-25 g pot, 120-180 fruits.

For all readers, this picture refutes the frequent assertion that for maximum productivity in figs you should pinch the shoots. IMO, shoots that are intended for fruiting should grow freely; excess shoots should be removed entirely to prevent over-crowding.


I assume there is a good reason to have your plant indoors. What location and growing zone are you in? Also do you know the tree variety? My friend @ramv can give you advice on growing in pots if there is a good reason you feel you need to do so for freez protection. He is our local Seattle expert when it comes to potted figs.
Kent, wa

@jrd51 has excellent advice that is valuable for all northern locations including PNW. For PNW, I would have even fewer fruiting shoots to concentrate energy even more – we are very sunlight/heat deprived owing to our latitude and usually cloudy weather.

And let the tree go dormant in winter. I would not keep it by a window. Preferably in a garage where it doesn’t get too cold (above 12-15F).


Agreed. I’ve had no problem with indoor temps as low as 20 F. Temps above 40-50 F tends to lead to growth. The best temps are 30-40 F but 20 F to 45 F should work.

Hi DennisD,
I’m in Massachusetts, which I think is growing zone 5. I also have an apartment, so I can’t put it in the ground. I’m increasing the water and fertilizer, and also will try to get it into a bigger pot before the summer comes. Hopefully these things will help, as some has suggested. There aren’t many branches, so there’s not much left to prune. I did a little pruning as spring was starting, but I’m afraid if I do more I’ll kill the thing!

I did keep it by a window this past winter, in a part of the house that isn’t heated; it was probably 45-50 on average there during the coldest points. I can see now that that was too warm!

Amazing tree!

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