How to prune a Ficus Benjamin

28 Oct

Here are three pruning approaches to use.

1.Remove up to one third of the outer growth on all the stems and branches. This will shrink the overall canopy of the tree by one third. This approach will yield a smaller and fuller ficus tree. It is great for ficus trees that have outgrown their space.

2.Selectively prune back up to one third of the longest individual stems and branches into the center of the tree. This will open up the center portion to more light. The cut back stems will now produce new growth and fill in the sparse center area. When done regularly, this technique will maintain the existing size of the tree without making the pruning obvious.

3.Combine the first two.

Pruning ficus trees is as much art as it is science – like cutting hair. Try to visualize how your tree will look with certain branches cut back and also how it will look as the new growth comes in. I have successfully pruned back ficus trees enough that there was not a single leaf remaining. In time I had a beautiful tree with all new growth. Plunge in and have fun!


Posted by on Sunday, October 28, 2007 in fractally weird


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12 responses to “How to prune a Ficus Benjamin

  1. mario

    Monday, July 7, 2008 at 8:07 pm

    this helped me soo much. my mom had been saying our ficus needed pruning so i decide to look up how to do it. thanks to you our ficus looks much better and with alittle more research i now how my own ficus

  2. Claudia

    Friday, October 3, 2008 at 9:47 pm

    I have a straggly tall b. ficus in my bathroom. I’m afraid if I prune it back – it will look terrible. How long does it take for the new growth to come back??

    I also have a tall b. ficus on an outdoor covered patio. I lost some of it during a freeze two years ago. But it came back – not with the same uniform look – but still beautiful. How can I protect it during a freeze?

    Thanks for your response.

  3. karen

    Saturday, March 28, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    I have two benjamin fiscus and the leaves are getting sticky and the floor around them are sticky.
    What would you suggest I spray them with?

    Thank You

    • Cash

      Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 7:01 pm

      F. benjamina are prone to mealy bug and scale. Look for white clumps that look like cotton on the backs of the leaves and where branches meet–this is mealy bug. Scale are extremely small brown bugs that make the plant feel sticky and give the leaves a glossy shine. If you have either of these, you may spray your plant every three to five days with a mixture of twenty drops of dishwashing liquid (make sure it is not anti-bacterial) to a litre of water. Spray the whole plant, especially under the leaves for four to six weeks.

  4. Cindy

    Thursday, April 16, 2009 at 8:28 am

    Thanks…this is great info. One thing I can’t find info on is “When to Prune a ficus benjamina”? Is there a better time during the year?

  5. Jack the Bear

    Friday, June 11, 2010 at 10:55 am

    I have a very young benjamina that I grew from a slip at the local laundry. It now has two ‘branches’ or tiny trunks, I dunno, the larger about 8″ extende. I would like to strengthen the main body before the heavy growth of summer comes on; perhaps I’ve left it too late.
    I would appreciate any suggestions or advice..
    Thank you.

  6. Jack the Bear

    Friday, June 11, 2010 at 10:55 am

    PS – could send a photo if needed

  7. madeline

    Monday, March 28, 2011 at 3:32 am

    I have a ficus benjamina that I moved to a window in my living room that gets very little sun which also happened to be directly across from a vent. I noticed the plant leaves drying out and the soil was dry so I watered it and then started watering it just a dab every day because I thought the heater vent was drying it out which of course it was. I didn’t realize that the pot didn’t have a drain hole and soon found water standing in the pot above the dirt. I punched a hole in it and let all the water drain before putting it back in its tray. The tree started immediatly losing leaves and the other ones continued to dry out and fall off or I would knock them off. Now even the healthy looking one have shriveled and dryed and are fixing to all fall off. How can I save my plant? I have pruned it back a little, but am afraid to prune much more. What do I do?

  8. Frances

    Monday, October 17, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    We have, or rather had, a beautiful ficus tree in our communal gardensin Spain. The gardens have chopped it so that it now looks ‘amputated’ with only the large trunk and a few branches left and no leaves. Can anyone reassure me that it will recover, even if it takes a couple of years.

  9. Mike G.

    Monday, November 14, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    i have a large ficus tree in my back yard about 11 feet tall i would like it to be about 7 foot. Can u please tell me how to do this and how to give it a good shape for the holidays..Thank You, from Mike in San Diego

  10. Mike G.

    Tuesday, November 15, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    mike g.

  11. Paul stewar

    Sunday, December 21, 2014 at 7:30 pm

    I keep my discus tree out side all summer into fall .the temperature dropped down one night I drought tree in that same night. After 5 days I lost all the leaves .what should I do please help .thank you


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