How to cut Ficus Benjamini correctly - instructions in the tutorial

How to cut Ficus Benjamini correctly - instructions in the tutorial

The best time is in spring

In principle, you can prune your Ficus Benjamini at any time of the year. The evergreen house tree is on good terms with scissors and saws. Even after extensive pruning, you can be confident that the plant will sprout again.

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Carpenters with a weakness for gentle cuts take the current growth phase of your weeping fig into consideration. Pruning measures come primarily into consideration in late winter or early spring . In the transition from winter rest to the beginning of the vegetation period, a Ficus Benjamini reacts to pruning with a bushy, strong shoot of shoots and leaves.

Cut compatibility allows diverse types of cuts

It is up to your horticultural assessment which cut circumference you prescribe your Ficus Benjamini. The pronounced cut tolerance allows every common type of cut, from removing individual shoots to radical rejuvenation. The following overview summarizes typical occasions for cutting weeping figs:

Cut typeGoal / occasion
Form and maintenance cutRegulate the height and width of growth
Clearance cutPromote light-flooded growth with dense foliage
Taper cutrejuvenate old, oversized weeping fig

No reason for pruning is the shedding of leaves . The cause of the frequent damage is an unsuitable location or maintenance errors. If your Ficus Benjamini feels compelled to get rid of its beautiful leaves, pruning cannot solve the problem. Please review all conditions for cultivation to identify and correct the trigger.

In perfect shape - topiary instructions

If a Ficus Benjamini develops into an aesthetic disruptive factor in the design of living and working spaces, a cut brings the houseplant back into shape. Bypass secateurs are ideal as a tool, because they leave smooth cuts with two sharp blades. How to properly cut your weeping fig:

  • Place the plant at eye level so that it can be reached all around
  • Cut back too long branches sticking out of the shape
  • Choose a point of intersection 2-4 millimeters from the base of the leaf or eye

So that a cut does not leave a gap in the foliage, at least one leaf or bud should remain on the shortened shoot. From this point of vegetation, growth continues. Please do not cut into a bud and do not leave a stump longer than 5 millimeters. In both cases it is questionable whether the plant will sprout at this point.

In this video, the garden center Augsburg briefly explains the correct cut of a weeping fig:



Protect skin, clothing and floor from sticky milky juice

Ficus Benjamini is characterized by a sticky plant sap, which experts call latex. Apart from its viscous, sticky texture, the milky secretion contains numerous allergens. It is strongly advised to take adequate protective measures for all cutting work. Wear gloves and long sleeved clothing. Spread out old blankets, used curtains or plastic film on the floor to protect against dripping latex juice. Ideally, move the cutting area outside on the lawn or bare earth. You stop the flow of sap in good time with small cotton balls or paper tissues, which you immediately press on bleeding wounds.

Thinning out for a dense cover of leaves

If a Ficus Benjamini can develop freely in height and width, it should still be pruned every 2 to 3 years. At least from the age of 5 there is a risk that dead wood will mix with the dense branches. As a result, buds are shaded so that they do not sprout. From the inside out, baldness spreads, which spoils a previously magnificent weeping fig. This is how a clearing cut ensures dense foliage:

  • Set up weeping fig so that it is easily visible and accessible
  • Have a folding saw (€ 17.70 at Amazon *) and bypass secateurs ready
  • Thinning out dead branches
  • Cut off shoots up to 3 cm in diameter
  • Saw off shoots more than 3 cm thick

The professional cut pays attention to the astring when thinning out. On older, large weeping figs, you can see a bulging thickening in the transition from the branch to the trunk. Cut or saw off the dead wood a short distance from the astring. If there is no astring, make the cut just before the trunk bark.


Colorful-leaved Ficus Benjamini are very popular for creative living space design. Sometimes single-colored green shoots protrude from the variegated leaves. These are cheeky wild shoots that want to prevail. Cut out the wildlings as soon as possible because they are more vigorous and can displace variegated branches.

Rejuvenate old weeping fig

Without an occasional clearing cut, a Ficus Benjamini grows old and bald within a few years. If the gardener hesitates to cut the shape, the exotic room tree bursts the spatial capacity and hits the ceiling. With a radical taper cut you pave the way for the floral fresh start. How to proceed professionally:

  • Put on gloves to protect against the toxic milky juice
  • Clean and disinfect the scissor blades and saw blade of the folding saw
  • At the beginning, thin out all leafless, dead branches on astring
  • Cut back the remaining branches and trunks by a hand or up to 30 centimeters

Please note that a leafless shoot does not necessarily belong to dead wood. Before you clear a branch at the base, use a vitality test to check the prospects of a new shoot. Use the point of a knife to scrape off the bark a little to examine the tissue. A dry, brown color indicates that it is dead wood. If fresh green tissue emerges, cut the shoot back a hand's width or up to 30 centimeters in order to revitalize its sleeping eyes.


Strong cut makes sleeping buds wakeful

Radically pruning old, oversized Ficus Benjamini is a serious concern for beginners in pruning. It is thanks to sleeping buds that the weeping fig sprouts fresh and vigorous after a rejuvenation cut. This also applies if you are cutting into old wood. In the course of growth, many woody plant species create dormant buds with wise foresight. These vegetation points have the sole purpose of life to replace lost shoots, branches or trunks. In gardeners' language, the floral reserve is referred to as sleeping eyes, because they are almost invisible buds that wait for their wake-up call below the bark.

frequently asked Questions

Is Ficus Benjamini Poisonous?

Experts classify Ficus Benjamini as slightly toxic. The evergreen houseplant poses a health hazard, especially for children and pets. The milky sap contains various toxins which, if consumed, can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and circulatory problems. Cats and small rodents can die of respiratory paralysis after ingesting small amounts of leaves. Latex allergy sufferers and sensitive adults should avoid direct skin contact with the milky sap of a weeping fig, as this can lead to allergic reactions such as itching, reddened skin and eczema.

My weeping fig is covered in sticky leaves. What to do?

Sticky leaves on Ficus benjamini are more than just a blemish. The most common cause of the problem is an infestation with pests such as aphids, which excrete viscous honeydew as a waste product. Once you have discovered the tiny pests on the leaves, wipe the covering off with lukewarm, soft water. Then rinse your weeping fig upside down. In the last step of the treatment, spray the leaves on the upper and lower sides with a mix of one liter of boiled, lukewarm water, in which you have dissolved one to two tablespoons of pure lubricating or curd soap. A splash of alcohol optimizes the effectiveness. Unless you find any pests as the cause, the sap that has flowed out sticks the leaves after pruning.Clean the leaves with a soft cloth and lime-free water.

I like to spend spring and summer on the balcony. Can I take my weeping fig outside with me?

The stay on the light-flooded, warm balcony promotes the beauty of a weeping fig. Since the exotic ornamental leaf plant does not tolerate frost, it should only move outside when the day and night temperatures are above 15 degrees Celsius. To protect against sunburn on the shiny green leaves, please choose a shady to partially shaded location in a sheltered location.

The 3 most common mistakes

The good-natured cut tolerance of Ficus Benjamini reaches its limits if important premises are not observed. The following overview draws attention to the three most common cutting errors and gives practical tips for prevention:

Cutting errorsDamageprevention
never exposedprogressive baldness from withinFrom the 5th year onwards, clear deadwood every 2-3 years
cut after leaf sheddingno budding, risk of total failureDo not cut when leaves fall, but optimize maintenance
Wild shoots not cut outvariegated foliage is overgrown with greenthinning out green shoots promptly in variegated varieties


Even without prior pruning, weeping figs benefit from a lukewarm shower. Use a plastic bag to cover the pot with the root ball. Place the plant in your bathtub or shower tray. Now rinse off the foliage with a gentle jet of water. Twice a year you should clean the room tree from dust and sticky sap in this way.