Pruning Ficus Benjamina

Spring is just around the corner. It is a good time to get our indoor plants in shape before they put out new leaves. Pruning my ficus has been something that I have been procrastinating about the entire winter season.

I bought this plant when I was a beginner in my plant journey when I have no idea how to take care of a plant. Without even researching beginner-friendly plants, I went straight to the garden center and picked up all the pretty ones. This Ficus was among them.

If you have a Ficus, you might know already, it doesn’t like to be moved around a lot and does not respond to changes very well. And I did exactly the same. I moved it around causing it to lose almost 75% of its leaves.

It was quite disheartening to watch that. It took almost two years to get it back to the shape it is today. Still, it is not perfect, on one side it is leggy and on the other side, it is bald. But I am happy that I did not give up on it.

Before the spring sets in, it would be a good idea to give this plant some shape and prune the dead branches so that I will, hopefully, have a bushy plant by this summer. 🙂

Before Pruning

It is better to give the plant a good shake before so that all the dead and weak leaves can fall off. They shed a lot during winters, which is quite normal. There is nothing to worry about.

Also disinfect the shears or scissors so that the tool doesn’t transmit any pests or diseases from any other plants.

Make sure to wear gloves while pruning as the sap produced from the plant can cause skin irritations. Safety First!


To prune it basically, we find a node. A node is simply where the leaf the stem or the branch.

Cut just an inch above this node at an angle. This will promote new growth to the sides, making it bushy rather than becoming leggy.

To know whether a node is healthy, check whether a sap (a white liquid) is coming out of this node. This means it is a healthy node and it has the potential to promote new growth. This sap is also the reason why I am wearing gloves because the sap can be quite an irritant to our skin.

Opposite to a healthy node, dead branches or stems do not produce any sap. So prune the stems till you see the sap coming out of the node.  Also, cut off any dead stems or branches as they will anyway not grow back.

Why should we prune Ficus Benjamina?

The main reason why people prune ficus is to tame it. As you can see this plant can grow pretty wild and outgrow the place where it is located. It grows both wide and tall.

And also, as you learned from the story of my ficus before, they don’t like to be moved at all. They will shed their leaves if there is any change in their environment, even if it is a good chance. So the only way to keep it manageable is to prune them and maintain that well-manicured look. That is the main reason why Ficus are pruned annually.

The other reason why we should prune Ficus is to remove dead leaves and branches like these.

When we prune the ficus tree, that means if we cut down some of the foliage, more sunlight and air will reach the center of the plant. This will prevent the plants from getting infected and grow healthy.

I am pruning my ficus Benjamin for all the reasons mentioned above, to remove all the dead branches, to make it manageable so that they don’t take much space in my living room, and also to make them grow bushy on all sides uniformly.

When should we prune Ficus Benjamina?

Ficus usually has an active growing period, i.e. in the spring and summer to early fall and a dormant period which is late fall and winter. In the winter the plant does not show any new growth instead sheds a few of its older leaves.

The best time to prune your ficus is when during its dormant period when there is no active growth. This will help the plant to thrive in the winter better.

If there are dead leaves and stems, you can prune them all throughout the year. But an extensive pruning, as I am doing here, should be done in winter.

It is almost the end of winter here in Germany. Now is a good time to prune my ficus before it starts to put out new growth in spring.

Result of my pruning 🙂

This is how my ficus turned out after pruning. This is not the perfect shape but hopefully, it will grow back in the spring and become bushier.

Hope this was useful to at least some of you. Happy pruning! 🙂