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Prune fig trees11 April 2013
Prune fig trees to keep them shapely and encourage lots of fat, luscious fruit by autumn. Not many people realise it's quite possible to fan-train a fig against a fence in much the same way as you would a cherry or plum tree, keeping its size manageable and allowing gardeners to grow them even in modest gardens.
You'll find good fruiting figs such as 'Brown Turkey' – bred to perform in cooler UK conditions - on sale in your favourite garden centre. Make sure you restrict its roots on planting – line a sunken pit with paving slabs, then fill the bottom with rubble. Backfill with soil and plant into that, and your fig will grow less vigorously and concentrate on producing fruit.
To train your fig, choose well-placed main branches to tie in to the supports in a fan and around now, in late spring, prune out any branches which spoil that shape. While you're at it, take out crossing branches and any which are damaged.
Then in summer, snip back any new growth to around five or six leaves from the main framework of branches. That'll give you plenty of short, fruiting spurs to keep your fig tree as productive as possible even in smaller spaces.