How to Prune a Ficus Bonsai

by Alex Kountry
Updated on

A guide on how to prune a ficus bonsai tree. This includes tips on when to prune, what tools to use, and how to care for your bonsai post-pruning.

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Pruning a Ficus Bonsai

Pruning a Ficus bonsai is an important step in its cultivation. Regular pruning will encourage new growth and keep your bonsai in good health. It is best to prune your bonsai early in the growing season, before new growth begins.

Pruning during the growing season

Pruning during the growing season is vital to the health and vigor of your ficus bonsai. When done correctly, pruning encourages new growth, which in turn strengthens the roots and trunk. It also helps to control the size and shape of your bonsai.

There are two main types of pruning: formative and maintenance. Formative pruning is done when the tree is young, and it shapes the tree’s overall structure. Maintenance pruning keeps the tree’s growth in check and removes any dead or dying branches.

Formative pruning should be done in early spring, as soon as new growth appears on the tips of the branches. Use sharp, sterilized pruners to remove any branches that are growing outside of the desired shape of your bonsai. You can also shorten long branches to encourage new growth closer to the trunk.

Maintenance pruning can be done anytime throughout the growing season. Remove any dead or dying branches, as well as any suckers (new shoots that are growing from the base of the tree). You can also trim back long branches to keep the tree’s overall shape in check.

Pruning during the dormant season

The best time to prune your Ficus bonsai is during the dormant season when the tree is not actively growing. In general, this is from late fall to early spring. However, because the Ficus is a tropical tree, it may not go completely dormant in colder climates. If you live in an area with freezing winters, it’s best to wait until spring to prune your tree.

Pruning during the growing season can shock the tree and cause dieback or even kill the tree. Therefore, it’s important to only prune when the tree is dormant.

The Different Types of Pruning

There are a few different types of pruning that you can do to a ficus bonsai. The first type is called root pruning. This is when you remove the roots of the tree to stunt its growth. The second type is branch pruning. This is when you remove branches from the tree to shape it. The third type is leaf pruning. This is when you remove leaves from the tree to shape it.


Pinching is the most common type of pruning for ficus bonsai. It is used to shape new growth and direct the tree’s energy. To pinch, use your thumb and index finger to pluck off the new growth tip. Pinching should be done regularly, as needed, to maintain the desired shape of your tree.

Pruning shears can also be used for larger branches. When using pruning shears, make sure to cut just above a node (the point where leaves branch off the stem). This will help encourage new growth.

Leaf pruning

Pruning is an essential component of bonsai care. There are many different types of pruning, each with its own purpose. Leaf pruning, for example, is done to encourage branching and create a fuller, more compact plant. It is usually done in the springtime.

To leaf prune a ficus bonsai, start by removing any dead or dying leaves. Next, use sharp scissors or pruning shears to lightly trim the tips of the remaining leaves. Don’t cut too much off at once – you can always do more pruning later if needed. Be careful not to cut off any buds, as these will be future leaves and branches.

Branch pruning

Branch pruning is done to thin out the bonsai tree and to give it a more desired shape. To do this, you will need to look at the tree and find any areas that are too dense or have unwanted growth. Once you have found these areas, you will need to carefully cut off the unwanted branches. It is important to make sure that you do not remove more than ⅓ of the total branches, as this can weaken the tree.

When pruning branches, it is also important to pay attention to the branch’s internode length. The internode is the section of the branch between two leaves or buds. If the internode lengths are too long, it can make the tree look leggy. To fix this, you will need to shorten the longest internodes by pruning back to a leaf or bud.

The Tools You’ll Need

To prune your ficus bonsai, you will need a sharp pair of scissors or pruning shears, a small saw, and a toothbrush. You will also need to have a well-ventilated area to work in, as the ficus tree produces a sap that can be irritating to the skin.

Bonsai pruning shears

Bonsai pruning shears are available in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some are designed for left-handed users, while others have extra-long handles for tall foliage. There are even ergonomic models that minimize joint pain during extended periods of use.

The most important factor to consider when choosing pruning shears is blade quality. Sharp blades are essential for making clean cuts that promote healing and prevent disease. If you plan to do a lot of bonsai pruning, look for a pair of shears with replaceable blades. This way, you can always have a sharp cutting edge on hand.

Bonsai wire

Bonsai wire is used to shape the bonsai tree into the desired form. There are two types of bonsai wire: anodized aluminum and coated copper. Anodized aluminum wire is the most popular type because it is inexpensive and easy to work with. Coated copper wire is more expensive, but it is less likely to damage the tree.

When choosing bonsai wire, you will need to consider the thickness of the wire and the tree. The thicker the wire, the heavier it will be, and the more likely it is to damage the tree. The thickness of the wire should be about half the thickness of the branch being wired.

Bonsai wire comes in a variety of gauges (thicknesses). The most common gauges are 18, 16, 14, 12, and 10.

Steps to Pruning Your Ficus Bonsai

Pruning your ficus bonsai helps to maintain its shape, health, and encourages new growth. You will want to start by removing any dead, dying, or diseased branches. You will also want to remove any branches that are crossing or rubbing against each other. Once you have removed these branches, you can then start to thin out the foliage. This will help to increase air circulation and light penetration to the inner branches.


Pruning is a basic bonsai technique. It shapes the tree by removing leaves, stems, and roots. There are several ways to prune a Ficus bonsai, but the most common method is called pinching. Pinching is done by using your fingers or bonsai tools to remove new growth from the tips of branches. This forces the tree to produce new growth from lower nodes on the branches. When done properly, pinching will result in a fuller, more compact canopy.

To pinch a Ficus bonsai, simply use your fingers or bonsai tools to remove new growth from the tips of branches. Be sure to remove all of the leaves from the branch you are pinching. If you leave even one leaf on the branch, the tree will continue to produce new growth from that leaf. Pinching too often can result in weak, spindly growth. For best results, pinch only once every two or three months.

Leaf pruning

Ficus trees are fast-growing, so they require more pruning than other types of bonsai. Pruning will help maintain the desired shape of your tree and keep it from growing too large.

To prune your ficus bonsai, start by removing any dead or dying leaves. Then, cut back the foliage to the desired shape using sharp, clean pruning shears. Make sure to avoid cutting into the woody parts of the plant.

Next, trim back any long roots that are growing out of the pot. You can do this by carefully slicing through the roots with a sharp knife. Again, be careful not to damage the plant.

Finally, cut back any branches that are growing too long or out of proportion with the rest of the tree. Once you’ve finished pruning, you can repot your ficus bonsai if necessary.

Branch pruning

Branch pruning is done to shape the tree and to control its size. You can prune your ficus bonsai at any time of year, but late winter is best. December through February is the bonsai “rest period” when growth is minimal, so it’s the best time to make significant cuts without damaging the tree.

To begin, look at the tree and decide which branches need to be removed. Then, using sharp pruning shears, make a clean cut just above a leaf node (the point where a leaf emerges from the branch). Try to angle the cut so that new growth will grow in the desired direction.

Once you’ve made all your cuts, take a step back and look at the tree. If there are any branches that are too long or out of proportion with the rest of the tree, you can shorten them by making a cut just above a leaf node.

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About the author

Alex Kountry

Alex Kountry is the founder of HayFarmGuy and has been a backyard farmer for over 10 years. Since then he has decided to write helpful articles that will help you become a better backyard farmer and know what to do. He also loves to play tennis and read books


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