SCIENTIFIC NAME: Ficus carica, Morus spp.
FAMILY: Moraceae

Dwarf Fig and Mulberry Trees? You Bet!
Using renewal pruning techniques, even fig and mulberry trees - vigorous though they are - can be kept no more than about 2.5 metres tall.

Thanks to a tip from Santa Clara Valley chapter member Tony Barbaro, my fig trees have remained fig bushes contentedly producing fruit where I can easily reach it (and nary a fig dropped in the gutter).

The secret is in having a multi-trunked tree with no trunk older than three years. When planting a young tree, allow a few shoots to grow from the base of the tree. The next winter, prune off all but the two best shoots. The tree will be Y-shaped with the crotch very near the ground. The second summer allow one new shoot to grow from the ground, making a total of three trunks.

Each winter prune off the oldest trunk, again leaving a Y-shape. Each summer allow one new shoot to grow into a third young trunk. The result will be a 'bush' a bit more than head-height, that is forever no more than three years old. Pretty clever, Tony!

Fig and mulberry trees are particularly adaptable to this type of pruning, as they bear fruit on first-year wood. There are rumours that Bob Cannard in the East Bay uses renewal pruning on ALL his fruit trees. Perhaps that can be investigated at a later date.

Linda Kincaid,
Fruit Gardener (CRFG)/1998 Mar-Apr

DATE: February 1999

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