How to Notch a Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree for Branching

Plant owners are fond of fiddle leaf fig. Those delightful lollipop-shaped fiddle leaf fig trees with their long, thin trunks and rounded crowns of branches are ever-so-famous in the United States. Their distinctive lyre-shaped leaves make them an absolute favorite.

If you brought this plant home, you know it’s not easy to care for. The plant does not continually develop into a lollipop shape. You must put in some serious effort if you want your fiddle leaf fig to have a rounded top and classic trunk shape.

You can achieve the naked trunk by careful pruning. However, you can’t harvest the lollipop until you get the plant to develop further branches.

That’s where notching comes into the picture.


Notching is when a tree’s trunk is sliced or wounded on purpose so that new branches would grow. As a result of the injured part being close to a node, the sap’s flow gets disrupted. Hormones in the sap can either spur development or stifle it.

Notching a fiddle tree will cause it to prioritize developing new branches from the corresponding set of inactive leaf buds.

Is Notching the Same Thing as Pinching or Pruning?

Different from one another, notching, pinching, and pruning are ways to shape a tree to regulate its growth.

The following are the differences between the three:

  • Notching is the practice of making an incision or notch in the tree trunk to promote the growth of branches there.
  • Pinching is a pruning technique in which the top growth of a tree is selectively pruned to promote the development of new branches.
  • Pruning is the process of removing branches or leaves. You can improve a tree’s health and reduce the risk of fungal diseases by eliminating diseased or disease-prone branches or thinning out overly dense sections. You might also form your tree differently by removing leaves and branches below a set height.

These methods are suitable for shaping your fiddle and maintaining its vitality.

Proper Way to Notch a Fig Tree

Choose a particular spot on your fiddle tree that should become a new branch. Here’s what you need to do after:

Get the Necessary Materials

Firstly, you need pruning shears. If you don’t have one, a sharp knife also works. If you don’t want to introduce harmful germs or fungus to your tree, sanitize your equipment with soap and hot water or alcohol before using them.

You can also use trimmers to make quick work of any trimming job, whether shaping, pruning, or seeding.

Don’t forget your gloves while at it. Lay down towels and be ready to clean up the sticky sap that will fall from the instrument. This white sap can irritate your skin and cause damage to wood and carpet.

Notching Techniques

Some ways to implement this method are as follows:

Node Technique

  • If you want to notch your fig, you’ll need to find a node on the trunk and equip yourself with the appropriate equipment. Nodes are somewhat thicker portions on the trunk. They are near latent leaf buds. They resemble a line going around the base of the tree.
  • Next, you must make your incision on the top of the node. You can push the blade of your knife or the rim of your shears into the wood. You can also slide the blade from side to side to form a slice.
  • Make your cut so deep that white sap begins to trickle out.
  • Don’t press or slice more than a third of the trunk, or you might trim your plant altogether. It will do more harm than good to your notching process.

Makeup to two or three notches if the tree is small enough. You can attempt up to five or six on a bigger tree. Not all of them will take, but it should be enough to give your fig a few new branches.

Single Notching

A single 1/8-inch deep cut is required for this notching technique. If you wish to train your tree to branch at 45-degree angles, make your cut slightly on top of the node.

Double Notching

Similar to single notching, you’ll make a cut an eighth of an inch deep at a 45-degree angle for the double-cut approach. However, instead of stopping there, you’ll make a second cut at an opposite 45-degree angle, creating a little wedge in the trunk.

The success rate of notching is between 30 and 50%. You will begin to see improvements in around six to eight weeks. Try again if you detect no signs of growth after two months.

Be patient if you’re trying to train a fiddle leaf fig tree to branch out by notching its trunk. Approximately one-third to one-half of your notching efforts will be successful.

Methods for Promoting Fruitful Notching

Notching is not a foolproof practice; however, there are ways to boost your odds of successfully placing a few new branches.

Solid Main Shaft

Don’t notch a thin or delicate trunk to avoid accidentally beheading your plant. It’s too simple to sever the entire branch when making a thorough cut accidentally.

Plant Maintenance

Giving your plant the attention it needs will help you notch it. Make sure you’re giving your fiddle leaf figs everything they need to thrive – regular watering, bright indirect light, and fertilizer.

Sufficient Irrigation and Drainage

Give your plant the right quantity of water. Ensure your pot has holes at the bottom because fiddles can’t stand to have their roots sitting in water. You should also pick easy-to-work-with soil with good drainage.

Add vermiculite or extra perlite to the mix. Ensure to retain just the right amount of moisture while allowing excess water to drain away.

Water the plant when the top of the soil is dry to your touch. Check for two to three inches of soil. You can utilize a moisture meter to determine when it is necessary to water.


Be sure your fig gets the necessary nutrients to encourage the growth of new branches. In the wild, plants are able to draw every nutrient they require from the soil around them; however, a tree grown in a pot has no choice but to rely on the potting soil alone.

It doesn’t take much time for the soil to be depleted of its nutrients. Therefore, supplement your plant with a high-quality liquid fertilizer if you’ve been caring for your plant for a couple of months while it’s actively growing.

Always approach a good dealer for Fiddle Leaf Fig food. Ensure that it is perfectly proportioned for fiddles to build new branches, develop strong roots, and produce healthy new leaves.

Sufficient Sunlight

To ensure your fiddle tree has the energy to create new branches, expose it to as much bright, indirect sunshine as possible.

A fiddle leaf fig thrives in a sunny east-facing window. You can also put your tree next to a window facing south or west; however, you must ensure it doesn’t get too much direct sunlight on its leaves.

If you have a window that opens to the north, make sure it gets enough sunlight. If it doesn’t, you must invest in a grow light; it does wonders for houseplants. You can also opt for full-spectrum lights or bulbs to ensure the smooth growth of your plant. They offer great aesthetics and fit into standard sockets pretty easily.


One of the most crucial yet frequently disregarded aspects of a fiddle leaf fig care guide is providing adequate space for the roots to expand and thrive.

It would help if you repotted your fiddle once a year. Change the pot if you notice that the roots are becoming crowded and the soil is becoming compact. Go up a size and choose a pot two to three inches wider.

 Your plant will appreciate the extra breathing room. The soil won’t be able to retain unnecessary water for your plant’s roots, keeping it safe from root rot.  

Cutting the Last Few Leaves off a Fiddle Leaf Fig

Notching isn’t foolproof; however, it’s a terrific method to explore and guide your fiddle’s development into the exact form you want.

Try again if you don’t succeed at first. However, don’t make the mistake of cutting your tree in half. It can recover from a superficial wound and continue growing.

Things to Remember

The following are some additional pointers that might come in handy for you:

  • You must attempt notching in spring and summer because most fiddles undergo a growth surge during these seasons.
  • Maintain good health of your plant so it can devote its resources to developing a new branch.

Thorsen's Greenhouse Ficus Lyrata, Fiddle Leaf Fig Plant, Live Indoor Plant, 6" Diameter, Green

Final Word

There you have it! That’s how you notch a fiddle leaf fig. Make sure to follow all the instructions given in this article to avoid mistakes. This plant needs tending to regularly. Those who are new to notching may find the process to be daunting. Remember, practice makes a man perfect. Don’t worry; it is relatively simple. Try it out.

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