Pruning Roots

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Pruning the roots once every 2-3 years

When pruning the roots of your potted fig trees, you must perform this once every 2-3 years. Otherwise the tree might experience a stunted growth and cause stress to the tree. It’s a good idea to prune your tree in early spring, just before the tree begins to leaf out. If you wait later in the season to prune, the tree will feel shock and the leaves will wilt for several days.

Of course, you can plan to transfer the tree into a larger pot. Although this can make it difficult to move the tree around and it can grow to enormous proportions. So, pruning is the best option if you plan to return the tree to the pot that you love so much.

Below are photographic examples showing the stages of root pruning.

  • This fig tree that has been removed from it’s pot. You will notice the roots that were pressed up against the lining of the pot giving the soil a distinctive shape as you can see here.
Roots ready for pruning
Roots ready for pruning
  • Roots with the old soil removed, prior to pruning. It is important to loosen the roots just like you do when you want messy hair.
Roots without soil, ready to be snipped
Roots without soil, ready to be snipped
  • This photo shows how the roots look after pruning. It looks like a bad hair day or if your hair gets wet after you get a perm.
The main roots have been pruned.
The main roots have been pruned.

Replace the grow medium

At this point, it is recommended that you either replace the grow medium or re-use your existing long-term conifer bark-based medium until the next time you prune the roots.

2 thoughts on “Pruning Roots

  1. Can I do this in the winter?

    Also, it looks like my tree could best be split into three trees. Can I use a handsaw and divide it? (In the winter Dec in TN)

  2. Hi Connie, you probably can do it in the winter since the tree will be in it’s dormant stage and less likely to shock the tree.

    If your tree has multiple trunks coming from the roots, you can easily cut the joined portions from the soft roots with a pruner or lopper. I would avoid using a handsaw since it chews up the fibers. It’s best to use some sort of pruner or lopper (for thicker diameter cuts) that gives a clean slice through the wood or roots. A clean slice will help the plant heal faster than a rough chewed up surface. Also, be sure to clean your blades with alcohol before and after use to help prevent the spread of disease. If you don’t already have one, I highly recommend that get a Corona AL 8462 High-Performance Orchard Lopper, 32-Inch Length or similar. It will do the job with ease.

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