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When to Prune: Fig Vines

Fig vines are members of the Ficus genus, along with the familiar common or fruiting fig. These plants grow quickly and enthusiastically, producing creeping, viney vegetation that creates attractive foliage in inhospitable areas. However, fig vines' fast growth habit also makes them aggressive plants that can overgrow garden structures or crowd out other plants. Regular pruning keeps ficus plants healthy and under control.
  1. Types

    • The Ficus genus contains around 900 species of vines, shrubs and trees native to tropical east Asia. These plants have spread to other parts of the world and are frequently grown for fruit or as ornamentals. Ficus pumila, the creeping or climbing fig, is the most commonly cultivated fig vine in North America.

    Growth Habit

    • Fig vines are enthusiastic climbers that can crawl up buildings several stories high. This plant produces small, heart-shaped leaves that form a mat of vegetation about 1 inch from the growth surface. When the fig reaches the top of its support structure, it forms horizontal branches with larger, more leathery leaves. The plant may then flower and fruit. As it ages, creeping fig tends to become woody and more tree-like.


    • This aggressive plant needs regular pruning to keep it from spreading beyond desirable growing locations. If stems or other growth stray from their growing surface, cut them off outside the swelling at the base of the stem to prevent damage to the main fig vine. Remove any branches that pull away from the support, becoming more woody and potentially unattractive.


    • According to Floridata, fig vines are considered high-maintenance plants, especially when grown on structures. They require pruning several times per year to remove overgrowth from windows, doors, roofs and gutters.


    • Fig vines are considered invasive plants in many parts of North America and can do significant damage to local vegetation and structures. Never plant ficus vines near wooden structures, since the adhesive in the vine can damage the wood. Prevent these plants from spreading beyond their original planting location to preserve the local environment.