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How to Notch Your Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree for Branching

How to Notch Your Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree for Branching

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Fiddle leaf fig trees are pretty common sights in many households. You might have a fiddle leaf fig tree that you adore right now, but this doesn’t mean that you don’t wish that you could make it branch out some more.

The concept of “branching” fiddle leaf fig trees refers to getting them to grow new branches. You can accomplish this by using an advanced strategy known as notching.

If you’re still somewhat new to caring for fiddle leaf fig trees, then you might not have any idea what notching is or how to do it. It isn’t the easiest thing to do in the world, but it’s something that you can learn about all the same.

Keep reading to learn how to notch a fiddle leaf fig tree for branching. Once you’ve obtained this knowledge, you should be able to get your fiddle leaf fig tree to look quite full with many different branches.

Branching Takes Effort

If you just buy a fiddle leaf fig from a nursery or garden center, then it’s likely going to resemble a shrub. It can grow at an impressive rate when you’re caring for it well, but it isn’t really going to produce branches unless you intentionally make it happen.

This is why many people wind up having fiddle leaf figs that are closer to shrubs rather than trees. The process of pinching and notching can make the plant form branches over time.

Do you have to do this to enjoy a fiddle leaf fig? No, you don’t necessarily need to do this if you don’t want to.

Some people might find branching to be too much work or they might be fine with having the fiddle leaf fig look more like a shrub plant. However, it’s good to know that fiddle leaf fig trees look really impressive when they start branching, and there’s a good reason to consider going the extra mile this way.

Notching Basics

Notching basics shouldn’t be all that hard to understand for most people who like to care for plants. You’re basically going to be examining the plant to find a node where you can create a notch to encourage branch growth.

A “node” is going to be a spot on the fiddle leaf fig where there is a thickening of the trunk somewhere in between leaves. It won’t always be easy to spot nodes, but you’ll be able to see some when you pay close attention and observe the tree up close.

Once you’ve located the spot, you can carve a deep cut into the plant just above the node. You should try to make the cut about 1/8 of an inch deep for this to work.

Always use a very sharp knife to get this done so that it will be easier. If you use a dull knife, then you’re going to have a tougher time getting the deep cut that you’re going for.

What type of knife you use doesn’t matter so much as long as the knife is sharp. Just be mindful of the condition of the knife before you start notching the fiddle leaf fig.

The act of notching this way is going to encourage your fiddle leaf fig to grow a branch at the location where you placed the notch. It’ll take a bit of time to see the results of your work, but if you chose a good spot near a node, then you should be happy with how things turn out.

Understand that it will usually take weeks to see the branches start to form. It isn’t going to be instantaneous, but you’ll get a good idea of where to place notches and how to locate nodes as you gain experience and do this more often.


Pinching is another thing that you can do to encourage branching in fiddle leaf fig trees. It works a little bit differently than notching, but the idea isn’t too different overall.

To start, you’re going to need to locate the newest growth on your fiddle leaf fig tree. Get your pruning shears out and cut this new growth off.

Once you’ve done this, you’re going to notice some sap; and once the sap dries, there’s going to be a sort of dark scab that will appear. Pinching your fiddle leaf fig in this location is going to force it to start branching out at that location.

Generally, the branches should start appearing with two to three weeks of pinching. You can use this simple method to encourage your fiddle leaf fig to grow many branches.

Many people wind up using a combination of pinching and notching to get fiddle leaf fig trees to grow many branches. As the fiddle leaf fig tree continues to grow taller, there will be more spots where you can pinch or notch the tree to get more branches to grow.

Over time, the fiddle leaf fig tree will be able to grow a number of different branches. It’ll completely alter the look of the plant in comparison to how it grows if you don’t notch or pinch the tree at all.

Why Would You Do This?

If you’re wondering why people notch or pinch fiddle leaf fig trees, then you should know that it’s to help the tree appear more full. Realistically, you don’t need to do this for the fiddle leaf fig to thrive, but it can make it look more like a full tree rather than something that grows like a shrub.

Some people look at fiddle leaf figs when they’re not branched out and think that they look as if they’re lacking something. It really just comes down to preference and how you’d like the plant to look.

It is notable that when you let a fiddle leaf fig grow straight up with no lateral branches, it can get quite tall. In fact, it might even reach the ceiling eventually unless you happen to have very tall ceilings in your home.

Widening the tree and making it grow laterally makes sense from many perspectives. However, you don’t have to feel as if you need to do this if you enjoy the sort of bushy look that you get when you don’t notch or pinch the plant.

You might like the aesthetic appeal of the fiddle leaf fig when it has more branches, and that might be what is leading you to look up information about branching. Since you’re able to encourage branch growth using these simple notching and pinching methods, it’s fine to do it if that’s what you want.

Although this is considered to be an advanced technique, it isn’t something that novices should be afraid of. The basic idea is pretty easy to comprehend, and you can get good results so long as you’re making good choices on where to notch or pinch.

The difficulty comes down to being able to recognize nodes and choosing to pinch at appropriate spots where new growth is present. So long as you’re following the advice above, it shouldn’t be hard to get your fiddle leaf fig to branch out.

Only Notch and Pinch During Certain Times

It wouldn’t be a good idea for you to notch or pinch your fiddle leaf fig during certain times of the year. For example, if you decide to notch your fiddle leaf fig toward the end of the growing season, then the plant wouldn’t really have time to recover.

The fiddle leaf fig will need a few months to recover after you notch it or pinch it. If you don’t give it the time that it needs, then it’s going to struggle a bit.

It’s also a bad idea to notch or pinch a fiddle leaf fig if you know that it’s going to be going through major changes soon. Don’t do this when you’re about to move the plant or when you’re going to be altering its watering schedule.

The best time of the year to notch and pinch fiddle leaf fig trees will be the beginning of the growing season. It’s also perfectly acceptable to do this in the middle of the growing season since the plant will have enough time to recover.

Make good decisions and continue to care for your fiddle leaf fig properly. You need to give your plant enough water and keep it in the right soil so that it will be able to recover each time.

General Fiddle Leaf Fig Care Tips

As noted above, caring for your fiddle leaf fig is imperative if you want it to grow strong. The plant isn’t going to be able to do very well with branching if it isn’t receiving what it needs from a basic care perspective.

There are things that you can do to ensure that these plants thrive under your care. Note that they like to be in warm and humid environments that receive plenty of light.

If your home is somewhat dry, then you’re likely going to need to get a humidifier to help the fiddle leaf fig out. You could also provide some artificial humidity by misting the fiddle leaf fig semi-regularly.

Fiddle leaf figs will need a fair amount of water, but you’re not going to want to go overboard. As with most plants, watering a fiddle leaf fig too much can cause it problems.

Ideally, you should be allowing the fiddle leaf fig to dry out a bit between watering sessions. Using well-draining soil is also going to be beneficial for fiddle leaf fig trees.

Ensure that you place the fiddle leaf fig in a good spot where it’ll get the light that it needs. Placing it next to a window where it can receive six hours of direct sunlight each day will be a good idea.

You should know that fiddle leaf fig plants like to reach toward the sunlight. If you want your plant to stay balanced, then you should rotate the fiddle leaf fig to keep it from bending in one direction.

It can be easier to keep things balanced out when you’re notching the fiddle leaf fig tree. Having more lateral growth might prevent it from bending awkwardly so much if you forget to rotate the plant one week.

Be careful about placing this plant near drafty areas as well. Fiddle leaf figs are well known for being sensitive to environmental changes, and they can struggle when being placed near drafty windows or doors.

It’s also best to keep them away from vents or air conditioning units. Temperature changes and rapid fluctuations could lead to very bad results, and you can prevent this by picking a good safe spot for the plant in your home.

If you do the best that you can to care for the basic needs of the fiddle leaf fig, then it’ll be able to thrive. It’ll bounce back from notching and pinching without it being too big of a deal.

Final Thoughts

Fiddle leaf fig trees are great and it makes a lot of sense to want to keep one in your home. You don’t have to notch or pinch your fiddle leaf fig if you don’t want to, but it can be satisfying to see the plant start branching.

It really does look a lot fuller and more like a tree once it starts branching. Overall, pinching and notching aren’t difficult to pull off so long as you’re paying attention and making good choices.

If you keep caring for the plant well, then you should be able to see the fiddle leaf fig grow a lot. It can get quite tall over time, and the lateral growth of the plant when you’ve set it on the path of branching will also be impressive.

Now that you know everything that you need to know about fiddle leaf fig notching, it’ll be easier to decide how to move forward. You might wish to use a combination of notching and pinching methods to get the plant to look its best over time.

Either way, you’ll be happy with how vibrant the fiddle leaf fig truly is. It can be a finicky plant in some ways, but it’s well worth the effort to take care of it due to its overall beauty.