You are reading this article to learn more about the Creeping Fig and its care.
|Synonyms||Climbing fig, Creeping fig|
|Soil||Well-draining soil mix|
|Watering||Every 7-10 days|
|Temperature||Min: 65.0°F (18.3°C), Max: 75.0°F (24°C)|
|Humidity||Min: 60.0%, Max: 80.0%|
|Fertilizer||Once a month|
|Propagation||Stem cuttings, layering|
|Toxicity||Toxic to cats, dogs, and humans|
Creeping Fig Care
The Creeping Fig grows best in organic peat-based soil and a temperature between 65-75°F (18-24°C). Provide bright indirect sunlight and >60% humidity. Fertilize once a month in spring and summer using a balanced fertilizer with an NPK of 5-5-5 or 10-10-10.
What is a Creeping Fig?
The scientific name for Creeping Fig is Ficus pumila. It has tiny heart-shaped leaves featuring pleasing hues of green.
Whether installed as hanging, climbing, or table plants, Ficus pumila is a glorious houseplant that doesn’t miss to make a statement.
According to the University of Florida, the Creeping Fig is a fast grower and invasive plant.
This Ficus is the perfect background cover for terrariums and vivariums.
But be prepared to prune it frequently.
Table of Contents
Ficus pumila Care Guide
Ficus pumila is amazingly easy to grow and care for.
Although it calls for keeping it at a size that suits the place of installment around the house, getting it all done seems effortless when you ensure the below-ideal growth conditions for the plant.
To grow Ficus pumila use an organic peat-based soil mix.
The plant is very versatile regarding the soil used for its growth.
Although most aerated potting soil blends work perfectly for Creeping Fig, going for an organic peat-based potting soil works wonders.
Also, make sure you choose a mix that drains quickly.
The Creeping Fig grows best in bright indirect sunlight.
Ficus pumila is not very demanding in lighting and can grow in almost all lighting conditions.
Although it can grow well when placed in the shade or exposed to indirect sunlight, the plant can’t survive in plenty of direct and complete darkness.
A favorable factor is that you can grow creeping figs even under artificial light if it comes from a strong enough source.
Water Ficus pumila once a week on average. Water once the top 2-3” soil is dry (5-7.6cm).
Water a young Ficus pumila frequently to allow the plant to develop roots.
Once matured, the plant doesn’t require watering as often as it draws more water from the soil.
Ensure there’s good drainage in the soil while removing excess water from the tray after watering the plant if you are growing it in a pot.
Water your creeping figs less frequently in the colder months, but ensure the soil doesn’t entirely dry out.
The optimal temperature for a Creeping Fig is 65-75°F (18-24°C).
Mid climates work perfectly when it comes to growing Ficus pumila outside.
The plant thrives greatly in a favorable temperature range of 65 degrees Fahrenheit to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (18-24°C).
This range makes it difficult for the plant to thrive in cold winter, but you can always grow it inside during those months.
This also makes it a great option for sprucing up the look of the exterior as well as the interior of your home with some fresh, bright green foliage.
Provide at least 60% humidity for a Ficus pumila. These Ficus plants are humidity-loving.
A creeping fig requires a humid surroundings, so you may need to provide the plant with artificial sources of humidity if you live in a dry climate region.
If your climbing figs grow vertically on a wall or fence, keep water-filled trays next to the base of the plant.
The gradual evaporation of water creates a more suitable condition for your creeping fig.
For indoor creeping figs, Humidity is an equally essential element for indoor creeping figs as for the outdoor vines.
Apart from placing trays for the potted plants, it would be best if you also made sure that the creeping fig doesn’t sit on a dry window sill for long hours.
Using an air humidifier or spraying the plant with water results in optimal living conditions for your Ficus pumila.
Fertilize the Creeping Fig using a balanced liquid fertilizer such as NPK 5-5-5 or 10-10-10 monthly in spring and summer.
Using the right fertilizers will help your fig ivy to grow faster.
Prefer going for a general-purpose liquid fertilizer while feeding the plant once a month during the summer, spring, and early fall months.
Once the climate gets colder, feed the plant every other month to ensure optimal growth.
However, if you are looking for slower growth and don’t want the creeping fig vines from spreading uncontrollably, you can skip fertilizing the soil altogether.
The plant will still grow remarkably quickly, but won’t require pruning too often.
Creeping Fig Propagation
Propagate the Creeping Fig using stem cuttings.
To cover as much wall or fence as you want with those bright vines, you don’t need to buy more Ficus pumila.
You can use the existing plant specimen around the house to generate more plants, that too in just a matter of a few weeks.
However, it would be best if you waited until spring arrives before beginning the propagation process.
Doing that after the growing season will reduce your chance of successful propagation.
Propagating Ficus pumila works best with the stem-cutting method.
Find a healthy plant and grab a branch that has fresh leaves growing on it.
Once you have the stem, follow the below steps to get it done.
Cut a 6-8 inch piece off the branch with the help of gardening shears or a pair of scissors.
Ensure you don’t break the stem with your hands to avoid creating a jagged wound that’s difficult for the plant to heal.
Remove the leaves from the bottom 3 inches (7.5 cm) of the creeping fig stem you cut.
Fill a container or glass with filtered water, putting the cutting into the same while keeping the wound side down.
Although it works well without a rooting hormone, if you want to speed up the process, dip the wound into a quality rooting hormone before placing it into the water.
Every week, change the water while draining the previous one.
Check the wound end of the stem cutting every time you change the water to track the development of the roots.
When the roots seem to get 2 inches long, your stem cutting is all set to be placed in soil.
Load a small pot with a nice potting mix and saturate the soil with water. Allow any excess water to drain out.
Use your finger to make a hole in the center of the potting soil mix, further placing the creeping fig stem cutting into the hole.
Make sure you fill the hole with some more soil.
Follow a regular watering regime for your plant, ensuring the top inch of the soil looks dry.
Once your Ficus pumila starts exhibiting growth and has got well-established roots, it’s time to transplant it to another spot.
You can either plant it outdoors in the ground or repot it into a bigger planter with the right soil, further taking care of the same as a young Ficus pumila.
Ficus pumila can grow up to 15 feet (4.5 meters) and more if not trimmed regularly.
Leaves in young Ficus pumila plants are small, specifically about an inch long (2.5cm) and three-fourths inch wide (1.9cm).
The closely-spaced leaves extend from thin stems which hug the growing surface.
It will take a few months for a new plant to send out new shoots rapidly.
The juvenile growth of creeping figs has aerial roots that produce a natural adhesive that glues the vines to different surfaces, including tile, glass, masonry, and concrete.
According to the University of North Carolina, this plant has a juvenile and an adult form.
Adult plants have larger and more leathery elliptic leaves.
Vines keep growing until they reach the height of their support system, further developing horizontal branches that exhibit mature leaves.
Mature plants look shrubbier and don’t feature adhesive-producing roots.
Repot Ficus pumila yearly with a pot just 1-2inches wider in diameter (2.5-5cm).
If you grow your creeping fig vines outside, you don’t need to repot the plant.
But repotting every year becomes essential if you have placed your Ficus pumila inside and go for regular trimming of the leaves.
Annual repotting keeps the spread of the vines in control, thereby keeping the plant relatively compact.
You might need to go for biannual plant repotting if you have bigger potted Ficus pumila such as the ones used in topiaries.
The larger the plant, the more care needs to be taken when repotting your creeping fig so that it doesn’t damage the structure of the plant.
However, things might get easier when dealing with mature plants, as they don’t necessarily call for repotting.
Instead, you can remove 1-2 top inches (2.5-5cm) of the old soil, replacing it with a new fresh mix.
This will make your Ficus pumila grow without a hassle for at least another year.
Trimming and Pruning your Ficus pumila
The most prominent thing to note about creeping fig is that it grows aggressively and quickly.
The plant spreads out vertically if it finds a surface that it can cling to. Otherwise, it spreads horizontally. If you want to let it grow randomly, fertilize and water your Ficus pumila.
On the other hand, if you want the vines to stay compact while also featuring fresh and young leaves, you need to prune your Ficus pumila from time to time.
As you gain more and more experience with trimming, you might even be able to prune the vines into interesting shapes.
You can trim the roots if you don’t want the vines to keep undergoing vertical growth.
Whenever you prune the creeping fig, ensure you don’t remove too much greenery at once to let the plant adapt to the change.
What to do when the leaves of your Ficus pumila look pale and exhausted?
Exposure to too much sunlight makes the leaves of your plant lose the bright green touch.
Creeping fig does well in controlled amounts of direct sunlight but surely can’t handle it for prolonged hours.
Move the plant to a shadier spot or replant the outdoor fig vines to allow them to recover from unwanted exposure to light. This will gradually make the plant regain its bright green leaves.
Why are the leaves shriveled up and falling off?
The leaves of creeping fig can shrivel up for several reasons, but the most common reason is overwatering.
If the soil around your plant is soggy and not well-drained for long, the plant is exposed to excess water, causing the leaves to wilt.
If the leaves are falling off with the slightest winds, your plant is undergoing excessive watering or poor drainage.
Repot the plant to ensure optimal drainage as soon as possible, further practicing a less frequent watering regime.
What to do if creeping fig shows undesired growth?
If your creeping fig vine has spread too fast and now covers up some surfaces that you didn’t want it to cover, the hour needs to remove the extra growth as quickly as possible.
Creeping figs can bind to different surfaces very well, and it will get more difficult to clear up the area with time.
If you are removing much plant growth, prefer a dedicated gardening tool.
While pulling the leaves away, ensure you don’t damage the covered wall or fence the plant is clinging to.
Once the required area is freed up, go for regular pruning while not watering or fertilizing a mature plant for a while.
Creeping fig is great at thriving in various conditions, and not adding any more water will prevent unwanted growth.
What to do when the leaves of your Ficus pumila turn dark and unattractive?
Usually, creeping fig features heart-shaped small leaves with a bright green color.
When those young leaves get mature, they turn into dark-hued, thicker ones that seem to quite lose their appeal.
If your plant exhibits too many dark leaves, it’s a sign that it needs pruning.
The best time to prune Creeping figs is the spring and summer seasons.
Pruning the plant during the growing season prevents it from having many dark leaves in winter and fall.
Why is your creeping fig vine not producing flowers?
Unless growing outside, creeping figs don’t get flowers.
So, if you have potted the plant indoors, it’s not an issue to worry about if it doesn’t produce flowers.
And even if your vines grow outside and don’t produce flowers soon, you still don’t need to be disappointed as climbing fig is mainly known for its leaves.
Is Ficus pumila poisonous?
Creeping fig vines are not poisonous, but coming in contact with the milky sap of the plant’s stems may lead to a skin condition called phytophotodermatitis.
It’s hard-to-cure skin inflammation, and that’s why creeping fig is included in the list of poisonous plants issued by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA).
Is Ficus pumila toxic to cats?
Eating or touching the Ficus pumila plant can be toxic for cats, but it isn’t fatal.
The cat may suffer from rashes or skin irritation when coming in contact with ficus plants, while consuming the leaves may cause vomiting and excessive drooling.
Cats will likely stay away from strong smells, so sprinkle some ginger, orange peels, pepper or mothballs to prevent your pet from chewing the plant. You can also go for a commercial cat repellent.
What pests or diseases does Ficus pumila encounter?
The plant encounters no serious diseases but can catch aphids, mealybugs, scale, and centipedes.
Mealybugs are white cotton-like sucking insects that may crawl to the soil’s surface after watering the plants. While mealybugs are seen at spots where the main stem meets the branches, scales are small white or black bumps on the stem of the plant.
Both pests can be treated by spraying a fine horticultural oil on the plant, adding a systemic chemical into the soil.
Lastly, go for a soap and water solution to treat the plant and eliminate pests.
In case centipedes infest the plant, the soil wasn’t sterilized correctly before planting Ficus pumila. The solution is to dump the soil out, further re-planting it in fresh, sterilized soil.
Can you grow Creeping fig in a pot?
You can adorn your space with the lovely green leaves of creeping fig even if you live in very cold climates that would freeze the plant – plant it in a pot and place it inside.
However, the fact that Ficus pumila grows very rapidly makes it important for regular maintenance when planting it in a pot.
This is essential to prevent the plant from growing on surfaces that shouldn’t be covered.
A point to note here is that the plant will last in the pot for only a few years, eventually witnessing aggressive and spreading growth of the root structures.
Are creeping figs edible?
Creeping figs are not edible. Instead, their fruits serve an ornamental purpose only.
I hope this Creeping Fig guide was helpful!
Daniel has been a plant enthusiast for over 20 years. He owns hundreds of houseplants and prepares for the chili growing seasons yearly with great anticipation. His favorite plants are plant species in the Araceae family, such as Monstera, Philodendron, and Anthurium. He also loves gardening and is growing hot peppers, tomatoes, and many more vegetables.