Notch Fiddle Leaf Fig – When, Why and How to Notch

Today,  it is common to see fiddle leaf fig trees in many homes. Also, if you have one, you might wish it would grow even larger.

With the help of a technique known as notching, you can encourage the growth of new branches.

If you are a new fiddle plant parent, you might not understand what is notching. Or how to notch the fiddle plant? Even though it is not the easiest thing to do, you can learn about it anyway.

In this article, you will learn how to notch a fiddle leaf fig, Why to notch it, and when is the best time to notch your fiddle leaf fig. After reading this article, you will be able to make your fiddle leaf fig tree look quite full with many branches.

What Is Notching?

Notching means cutting or wounding the trunk of a tree to make it branch out there.

When a tree is wounded near a node, the sap flow is disrupted. There are hormones in sap that can either promote growth or inhibit it. 

In about 30% to 50% of cases, notching fiddle leaf fig trees will encourage the plant to send energy and resources to the dormant leaf buds in that spot. This results in the growth of a new branch.

What Is Notching

Why notch fiddle leaf fig

If you are wondering why people notch or pinch fiddle leaf fig trees, it’s to make the tree look fuller. Fiddle leaf figs do not need this to thrive, but you can make them look more like trees.

Some people feel that fiddle leaf figs lack something if they are not branched out. It really comes down to personal preference and how you would like the plant to appear.

Also, it is interesting to note that fiddle leaf figs can get quite tall when they grow straight up without lateral branches. Even if you have a very high ceiling in your home, it might eventually reach the ceiling.

In many ways, expanding the tree and making it grow laterally makes sense. However, it isn’t necessary to do this if you enjoy the bushy look you get with plants that aren’t notched or pinched.

The presence of more branches on your fiddle leaf fig might appeal to you, which is why you are looking up information about branching. And it’s okay to notch and pinch branches to encourage branch growth, as long as that’s what you want.

Even though this technique is considered advanced, it isn’t something novices should be afraid of. As a general rule, the basic idea is pretty straightforward, and if you notch or pinch correctly, you can get good results.

A major challenge is identifying nodes and pinching at appropriate places where new growth is present. It shouldn’t be too difficult for your fiddle leaf fig to branch out as long as you follow the steps below.

How to Notch fiddle leaf fig

How to Notch fiddle leaf fig

It seems you have decided to grow a branch on your fiddle leaf fig in a specific area. So, what’s next? What is the best way to notch fiddle leaf figs? 

Here’s what you need to do.

Step 1: Identify several nodes on a woody stem

A node is a thickened area of the stem where new growth appears. Around the stem, they may form a raised ring. Also, the notching method works best on old wood rather than new, green growth.

By making notches at several nodes, you will have a better chance of forcing new lateral branches.

Step 2: Using a clean, sharp knife, make an incision right above the node

Cut about 1/3 of the way around the stem, not deeper than 1/3 of the branch’s depth.

When the node is cut above, growth hormones are interrupted and new growth starts to sprout up from the node. Also, notching is not effective when cutting below the node.

Step 3: Remove the bark from the stem 

You need to cut between 1/8 and 1/4 inch in height, so ensure you only remove enough bark to allow for this size cut. Otherwise, you may accidentally prune your fiddle leaf fig!

Step 4: Take all the tissue out of the incision

Be careful not to cut all the way through the stem when notching a fiddle leaf fig. 

Put the cuttings in water to root and start a new fiddle leaf fig from the cutting you accidentally sever from the plant.

Step 5: With a damp cloth, wipe the stem

The goal here is to remove any white sap that seeps from the cut. It’s because the sap from fiddle leaf figs can irritate your skin. Also, this part of the fiddle leaf fig is toxic to cats and dogs, so be careful if you have pets around.

Step 6: Let the wound heal naturally

From here, it’s all about patience. As long as you followed all of the instructions above, you shouldn’t be too concerned about your cut. It may look like damage to your fiddle leaf fig, but that notch is actually perfectly fine. It’s actually encouraging it to grow!

After notching a fiddle leaf fig, it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on your plant as part of your regular houseplant care. If you notice your fiddle leaf fig’s leaves turning yellow or brown, you may have cut too far. But this is rare and unlikely since most wounds heal on their own.

Step 7: Keep an eye out for new leaves and branches

Fiddle leaf figs are likely to sprout within a few weeks of notching, with further growth likely to follow. 

The fiddle leaf fig isn’t the fastest growing plant around, although, after notching one, new growth will appear quickly.

Tools You Will Need for Notching Fiddle Leaf Fig Trees

Tools You Will Need for Notching Fiddle Leaf Fig Trees

Get your supplies together first. 

The most important thing you will need is a pair of sharp pruning shears or a very sharp knife. Also, sterilize your tools with alcohol or hot water and soap to avoid spreading bacteria or fungus.

When you do this, it’s also a good idea to wear gloves, lay down some towels or tarps, or stand ready to wipe up the fiddle’s sticky white sap as it falls. There is an irritating sap that can irritate your skin and damage your furniture and flooring.

I recommend using Rooting Hormone or our Propagation Promoter here to ensure success!

Notching methods for Fiddle Leaf Fig

Notching methods for Fiddle Leaf Fig

In this section, we will walk through the two methods of notching technique.

Single-Cut Method Notching of Fiddle Leaf Fig

To perform the single-cut notching method, you simply make one â…› inch deep cut or cut ÂĽ -â…“ of the way through the branch with your shears. Just above the node where you want your tree to branch out, cut at a 45-degree angle. 

Double-cut method notching of Fiddle Leaf Fig

Double-cutting involves making your ⅛-inch deep cut at a 45-degree angle. Then, cut a small wedge out of the trunk at an opposing 45-degree angle above or below that one. 

When should you notch a fiddle leaf fig tree?

It is best to prune or notch your fiddle leaf fig tree in early spring. At that time it is breaking dormancy and undergoing rapid growth. However, during the summer, you can also notch your fiddle leaf fig tree, since it is actively growing.

Fall and winter are not the best times to notch fiddle leaf fig trees because they slow down their growth and enter dormancy. During this time, your fiddle leaf fig plant is not growing much. 

Thus, notching it during the fall and winter is unlikely to be effective. Additionally, it causes stress to the plant, which will result in poor growth.

Basic fiddle leaf fig care tips

Basic fiddle leaf fig care tips

You have to take care of your fiddle leaf fig if you want it to grow strong. In terms of basic care, the plant won’t be able to branch if it doesn’t get what it needs.

If you want to make sure that these plants thrive under your care, there are certain things you can do.

 It is important to note that they prefer warm, humid, and light-filled environments.

In a dry home, you will probably need to get a humidifier to keep the fiddle leaf fig happy. It’s also possible to mist the fiddle leaf fig semi-regularly so it has some humidity.

There is a fair amount of water that fiddle leaf figs need, but you don’t want to go overboard. When you water a fiddle leaf fig too much, it will suffer.

If possible, let the fiddle leaf figs dry out between watering sessions. It is also beneficial to use well-draining soil for fiddle leaf fig trees.

The fiddle leaf fig needs sufficient light, so place it where it can receive it. If possible, place it next to a window where it will receive six hours of direct sunlight.

Fiddle leaf fig plants like to reach toward the sunlight. To keep your fiddle leaf fig balanced, rotate it to keep it from bending.

When you are notching fiddle leaf fig trees, it can be easier to keep things balanced. If you don’t rotate the plant for one week, it might not bend so awkwardly if it has more lateral growth.

It is also important to avoid placing this plant in drafty areas. If placed near drafty windows or doors, fiddle leaf figs can suffer from environmental changes.

In addition, avoid placing them near vents or air conditioning units. Pick a safe spot for the plant in your home where temperatures won’t fluctuate rapidly. This will prevent very bad results from occurring.

Fiddle leaf figs are pretty hardy, so if you feed them the right things, they will thrive. Despite notching and pinching, it will bounce back.

A few quick questions about notching fiddle leaf fig

Is Notching the Same As Pinching and Pruning?

There are different methods of cutting and shaping a tree. Such as notching, pruning, and pinching, to control its growth.

Here’s a quick rundown of each technique:


In notching, you create a cut or notch to encourage branching at a certain spot on the trunk.


Pinching a tree involves cutting off new growth from its top to encourage branching. The difference between notching and pinching is that notching involves only making a cut while pinching consists of cutting the tree’s top off entirely.


Pruning involves removing leaves and/or branches. To improve a tree’s health, the owner may remove dead or damaged growth, or thin out crowded areas to promote airflow, which prevents fungal issues like powdery mildew.

To shape your tree, you could also prune branches and leaves below a certain point. 

All these techniques will help you shape your fiddle leaf fig and keep it healthy.

How Long Does Notching Take to Work?

After a successful notching attempt, new leaves and branches typically appear within 4 to 5 weeks, depending on your plant’s growth rate and health. Early in the spring, when new growth resumes, notching may produce leaves and branches within a month.

In the summer, notching a fiddle leaf fig can be effective, but it may take longer for new growth to begin. Similar to healthy plants, struggling plants will produce fewer lateral branches and foliage.

Should I notch my fiddle leaf fig?

It is effective to notch your fiddle leaf fig if it lacks lateral branches yet hasn’t reached its desired height. A better option for overgrown trees that have reached the ceiling is to prune the top of the tree.

What to do if notching your fiddle leaf fig didn’t work?

Let your fiddle leaf fig rest and heal before trying again if notching doesn’t produce new growth. Notch your fiddle leaf fig again following the same procedure, but don’t do it in the same spots.

Notching is one of the best ways to force lateral branches on your fiddle leaf fig plant, but it is not always reliable. You have a greater chance of success if you make multiple notches (at several nodes).

My opinion on Notching fiddle leaf fig

Notching isn’t guaranteed. However, it is a fun experiment to do. Also, it is a good way to encourage new branches on your fiddle leaf fig.

If it doesn’t work the first time, do not give up! It is worth trying again as long as you don’t chop your tree in half. 

Your fiddle leaf fig does not require notching or pinching. Yet, it will satisfy you to see it branching out.

As soon as your fiddle starts branching, it will look a lot fuller and more like a tree. Additionally, as long as you pay attention and make good choices, pinching and notching aren’t too difficult.

With good care, your fiddle leaf can grow quite tall, and the lateral growth will also be impressive once it begins branching.


With all the knowledge about fiddle leaf fig notching, it will be easier for you to decide what to do next. Also, if you want to make your plant best over time, combine notching and pinching methods. Let us know in the comments section below if you have any questions regarding the plant and we would love to answer them for you. 

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  • Prachi Parate

    Prachi Parate is an enthusiast writer. She is a native of a science background, where botanical science was one of her favorite subjects. It was always Prachi's dream to combine her passion with a career. Hence, her fascination with plants led to a career as a writer. Also, she believes that taking good care of yourself is key to happiness. Time spent in nature is one of her favorite self-care practices. It is her goal to transform her learning into content that helps readers.

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