Pruning and notching gone wrong

Discussion in 'Indoor and Greenhouse Plants' started by lilac123, Mar 27, 2021.

  1. lilac123

    lilac123 New Member

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    Hi everyone! I have managed to keep my fiddle leaf fig alive for over three years which I consider as an accomplishment in itself (it took a lot of reading online to get the soil and watering right)! However as a total plant beginner, I haven't had any luck encouraging branching out for that nice, full, tree look (photo #2). I am hoping to get some feedback on what I might be doing wrong?

    The tree is shaped like a V. Both sides of V were the same height when I got it.

    Early summer #2:
    • I pruned the right side (photo #3). Was expecting this to create two branches however it only resulted in one new growth that followed the same upright trajectory as the pruned branch. Got 7 dense smaller sized leafs that summer, but no desired branching out effect.
    • I also notched along bottoms of both sides in about 3-4 places. Nothing happened. The cuts eventually healed and closed up. I believe I made them deep enough.
    Early summer #3:
    • I pinched the top bud on the new branch on the right side (above the 7 new small leaves). This fully stunted the growth on the right side. No new leaves the rest of the year.
    • I made few more attempts at notching, no results again.

    I haven't done anything to the left side of the V and as you can see it has grown significantly taller and new leaves are significantly bigger than new leaves on the right.

    I know that balancing the tree will most likely require pruning the left side of the tree but am reluctant to do any more cutting until I figure out what I did wrong the first time!
     

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  2. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    That's a good sized plant, I hope someone with experience will be able to help.
     
  3. Sulev

    Sulev Contributor

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    I think, that you have to prune both tops at once to promote branching.
     
  4. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    I would pinch the tip on the left to retard its growth. If that fails then perhaps air-layer part of that stem to reduce its height.
     
  5. lilac123

    lilac123 New Member

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    Would that encourage branching or just stunt the growth on the left so the right can catch up?
     
  6. lilac123

    lilac123 New Member

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    I've been thinking about pruning both sides down to equal height this spring, and then seeing what happens, but am nervous about cutting off so much growth!
     
  7. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    It would encourage branching and thus slow the stem's height gain, and perhaps allow the shorter stem to catch up. Although it's counter-intuitive, from what I've read, one should prune hard the weaker side in order to stimulate more robust growth there. I hope a pruning expert can offer some advice. Any help, @Ron B?
     
  8. Sulev

    Sulev Contributor

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    Pruning both sides to equal heigth is the best way to promote branching. You can use tip part as a cutting for rooting to get a new plant - figs are rooting quite readily and it is easy to propagate from cuttings. Just remove some lower leaves from the cutting, stick the cutting into the water (or well draining soil and keep it moist, not wet) and warm (above 20°C or 70°F). See Fiddle Leaf Fig Propagation: 100% Success in 2 Easy Ways! for more info about propagating Ficus lyrata.

    There are 3 main ways to promote Ficus branching: pruning, notching and pinching. Read more:
    Three Ways to Encourage a Fiddle Leaf Fig to Branch: Pruning, Notching & Pinching
     

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