Botanical name: Ficus pumila
Synonym: Ficus repens
Common names: Creeping Fig, Climbing Fig
Creeping Fig is a lowly houseplant which is useful as a trailer or climber which produces a dense green carpet and is one of the best indoor ground covers.
The Creeping Fig stems will cling to any damp surface, making it an excellent climber up to a height of 4 m.
Creeping Fig aerial roots produce a translucent latex that hardens on drying, allowing the plant to adhere to their support.
The Creeping Fig has a high requirement for humidity which makes it perfect for growing in a terrarium.
The long trailing stems in Creeping Fig make is ideal for a hanging basket, a table top plant or on a shelf.
The Latin name "pumila" comes from the word "pumilus" meaning dwarf and refers to the very small leaves.
Creeping Fig can become invasive, covering structures and landscape features if not maintained and its growth contained.
As it climbs on buildings and wooden structures, the woody tendrils in Creeping Fig can cling or root in and damage structures and or their surfaces.
The Creeping Fig comes in many varieties like minima which has smaller leaves, variegata has white-spotted foliage, Rikki and the cream-edged Sunny among others.
Creeping Fig is native to East Asia (China, Japan and Vietnam).
Creeping Fig grows best in a partial shade; it is a low light plant that will survive in the low light spaces in your home.
Protect Creeping Fig from direct sunlight as it can burn the leaves causing dry shrivelled leaves. Check out this guide on understanding light for houseplants.
Keep soil moist at all times for Creeping Fig but significantly reduce watering during the cold season. Read more on how to water houseplants.
Avoid overwatering and soggy soil for your Creeping Fig as it can lead to root-rot disease and eventual death of your plant.
The best temperature for growing your Creeping Fig indoors is an average warmth with a minumum of 120C.
Protect your Creeping Fig from draughts to prevent sudden changes in temperature as it can lead to leaf drop. Read more on understanding temperature for houseplants.
Creeping Fig has a high need for high humidity inorder for it to thrive. To raise humidity for your Creeping Fig, set the pot on a wet pebble tray. Read more on how to raise humidity for houseplants.
Creeping Fig can also be grown in a terrarium as a high humidity can be maintained in a terrarium. Read more on how to make a terrarium for houseplants.
Occasionally clean the leaves of your Creeping Fig by washing them under a steady stream of water from a hose to get rid of dust and discourage pest infestation. Read more on how to clean houseplants.
Feed Creeping Fig monthly during the growing period with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer.
Withhold feeding for your Creeping Fig during the cold season as growth is minimal and feeding at this time can lead to fertilizer burn. Read more on how to feed houseplants.
Repot your Creeping Fig at the beginning of the growing season only when it has become pot-bound.
Avoid frequent repotting as Creeping Fig prefers to be pot-bound. Repot only when your Creeping Fig has outgrown its current pot; when roots begin to grow through the drainage holes.
Use a pot 1 size larger and one that has a drainage hole for your Creeping Fig to avoid getting soggy soil.
Use a heavy pot as your Creeping Fig can become top-heavy and topple over.
The best soil for your Creeping Fig should be free-draining and rich in organic matter.
Never allow the roots of your Creeping Fig to sit in soggy soil as it may lead to leaf drop and root-rot disease.
Pruning your Creeping Fig involves removal of dead and yellow leaves to maintain the plant neat and tidy.
To encourage a compact and bushy growth for your Creeping Fig, pinch off the growing tips regularly.
If your Creeping Fig becomes unruly, cut back the stems to rejuvenate growth.
The foliage emanating from the pruning of your Creeping Fig, can be used to propagate new plants. Read more on how to prune houseplants.
Creeping Fig can be propagated at the beginning of the growing season from stem-tip cuttings.
Take stem-tip cuttings of about 6 in. long from a healthy Creeping Fig.
Strip off the lower lower leaves from your Creeping Fig Cutting and retain at least 2 sets of leaves on top.
Insert the Creeping Fig cutting in moist rooting soil. Ensure the rooting container has adequate drainage to avoid getting soggy soil as it can lead to rotting.
To hasten rooting of your Creeping Fig cutting, create a mini-greenhouse by covering the set up with a polythene sheet or bag.
Ensure the leaves of your Creeping Fig cutting do not touch the sheet or bag too much by propping it up with sticks.
Place the set up in warm, well-lit spot and maintain the soil moist through out until new growth emerges. New growth indicates your Creeping Fig cutting has rooted.
Gradually over a period of two weeks, remove the plastic bag cover to acclimatize the new Creeping Fig plant.
In 2-3 months, there will be adequate root development and and normal care for your new Creeping Fig can begin.
There are four possible causes of sudden leaf drop in Creeping Fig.
One possible cause of sudden leaf drop in your Creeping Fig is any changes in the growing conditions like soggy soil.
Ensure the pot for your Creeping Fig has a drainage hole and the soil is free-draining to prevent the soil from getting soggy.
The second possible cause of sudden leaf drop in your Creeping Fig is low temperature.
Protect your Creeping Fig from cold draughts to avoid a drop in temperature to maintain an average warmth with a minumum of 120C.
The third possible cause of sudden leaf drop in your Creeping Fig is too little light.
Move your Creeping Fig to a brighter spot and ensure it is receiving bright, filtered light away from direct sunshine. Read more on understanding light for houseplants.
The fourth possible cause of sudden leaf drop in your Creeping Fig is overfeeding.
Do not feed your Creeping Fig during the cold season as growth is minimal at this time. Read more on how to feed houseplants.
This is a normal occurence in Creeping Fig. As the plant matures, a degree of legginess will be observed after a few years.
Cut back the leggy stems to rejuvenate growth for your Creeping Fig. Read more on how to prune houseplants.
Underfeeding your Creeping Fig is the reason for yellowing of the leaves at the edges.
Monthly feeding of your Creeping Fig with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer through out the growing period is recommended.
There are three possible causes of dry and shrivelled leaves in Creeping Fig.
One possible cause of dry and shrivelled leaves in your Creeping Fig is exposure to direct sunlight.
Protect your Creeping Fid from direct sunlight or move it away from direct sunlight.
The second cause of dry and shrivelled leaves in your Creeping Fig is low humidity.
To raise humidity for your Creeping Fig, set the pot on a wet pebble tray. Read more on how to raise humidity for houseplants.
You can also grow your Creeping Fig can in a terrarium as a high humidity can be maintained in a terrarium. Read more on how to make a terrarium for houseplants.
The third cause of dry and shrivelled leaves in your Creeping Fig is due to allowing the soil to dry out completely.
Maintain the soil moist at all times for your Creeping Fig and never allow the soil to dry out completely.
Isolate the affected plant to prevent spread to other plants and treat it appropriately for the pests.
Keep your Creeping Fig properly pruned at all times to reduce the hiding places for these pests.
Creeping Fig is prone to root-rot disease which is enhanced by soggy soil.
Ensure there is free drainage of both the soil and the pot and also reduce watering for your Creeping Fig during the cold season.
The sap of Creeping Fig (Ficus pumila) may cause a skin inflammation in sensitive skin. Always wear gloves when handling your Creeping Fig.