Botanical name: Ficus pumila
Synonym: Ficus repens
Common names: Creeping Fig, Climbing Fig
Ficus pumila commonly called Creeping Fig or Climbing Fig is a lowly plant which is useful as a trailer or climber which produces a dense green carpet and is one of the best indoor ground covers.
The stems will cling to any damp surface, making it an excellent climber up to a height of 4 m.
Its aerial roots produce a translucent latex that hardens on drying, allowing the plant to adhere to their support.
Ficus pumila has a high requirement for humidity which makes it perfect for growing in a terrarium.
The long trailing stems make it 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 can cling or root in and damage structures and or their surfaces.
Ficus pumila also called Ficus repens is native to East Asia (China, Japan and Vietnam).
Ficus pumila comes in many varieties like;
Ficus pumila 'Minima' which has smaller leaves
Ficus pumila 'Variegata' has heart-shaped, thumbnail-sized leaves with broad white margins on wiry stems among others.
The cultivars include;
Ficus pumila var. awkeotsang (Awkeotsang Creeping Fig)
Ficus pumila var. quercifolia (Oak Leaf Creeping Fig or Miniature Oakleaf Fig)
Ficus pumila 'Curly' (Curly Creeping Fig or Crinkled Leaf Form) has green leaves with a cream center and crinkled leaves.
Creeping Fig in various sizes is available online at Etsy. Purchase Creeping Fig from Etsy.
Creeping Fig (Ficus pumila) care indoors is easy when the right conditions are provided. It thrives in medium to bright, indrect light away from direct sunlight, warm and humid conditions and moist well-drained soils that are rich in organic matter coupled with monthly feeding during the growing season.
Climbing Fig requires regular pruning to keep it neat and also encourage a bushy growth. Repotting is only needed when it becomes pot-bound. Keep reading for more on these growing conditions and how to achieve them.
Creeping Fig grows best in a medium to bright indirect light. It can also grow under a grow light where natural lighting is not adequate.
Protect Ficus pumila from direct sunlight as it can burn the leaves causing dry shrivelled leaves. Check out this guide on understanding light for houseplants.
Water Creeping Fig liberally during the growing season while allowing the top 1-2 in. of soil to dry out between waterings to keep soil moist at all times.
Significantly reduce watering during the cold season to maintain the soil slightly moist but do not allow the soil to dry out completely. Read more on how to water houseplants.
Avoid overwatering and soggy soil as it can lead to root-rot disease and eventual death of your plant.
The best temperature for growing Creeping Fig indoors is an average warmth with a minumum of 120C. Keep it away 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, set the pot on a wet pebble tray or use a cool mist humidifier. Read more on how to raise humidity for houseplants.
Occasionally clean the leaves 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 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 Creeping Fig at the beginning of the growing season only when it has become pot-bound. Avoid frequent repotting as it prefers to be pot-bound.
Repot only when the plant has outgrown its current pot; when roots begin to grow through the drainage holes.
Use a pot 1 size larger than the current one and one that has a drainage hole to avoid getting soggy soil.
Never allow the roots of the Climbing Fig to sit in soggy soil as it may lead to leaf drop and root-rot disease.
Soil for Creeping Fig should be rich in organic matter and free-draining to prevent it from getting soggy while providing the required nutrients.
Multi-purpose potting mixes are ideal for this plant. Purchase quality potting mix for Climbing Fig from Etsy.
Pruning Creeping Fig involves removal of dead and yellow leaves to maintain the plant neat and tidy. To encourage a compact and bushy growth, pinch off the growing tips regularly.
If the Climbing Fig becomes unruly, cut back the stems to rejuvenate growth. The foliage emanating from the pruning, can be used to propagate new plants. Read more on how to prune houseplants.
Creeping Fig (Ficus pumila) 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 the cutting and retain at least 2 sets of leaves on top.
Insert the 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 the cutting, create a mini-greenhouse by covering the set up with a polythene sheet or bag.
Ensure the leaves of the 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 that the cutting has rooted.
Gradually over a period of two weeks, remove the plastic bag cover to acclimatize the new plant.
In 2-3 months, there will be adequate root development and and routine care for the new Climbing Fig can begin.
Creeping Fig (Ficus pumila) problems indoors are caused by cultural faults (improper care). These problems include leaf drop, yellow leaves, shrivelled leaves, plant death, pests and diseases among others. Keep reading for more on these problems and how to fix them.
There are four possible causes of leaf drop in Creeping Fig. One possible cause of leaf drop is any changes in the growing conditions like soggy soil.
Ensure the pot has a drainage hole and the soil is free-draining to prevent the soil from getting soggy.
The second possible cause of leaf drop in Climbing Fig is low temperature.
Protect the plant from cold draughts to avoid a drop in temperature to maintain an average warmth with a minumum of 120C.
The third possible cause of leaf drop in Ficus pumila is too little light.
Move the plant to a brighter spot and ensure it is receiving medium to bright, indirect light away from direct sunshine or instal a grow light if the natural lighting is not adequate. Read more on understanding light for houseplants.
The fourth possible cause of leaf drop in Creeping Fig is overfeeding.
Do not feed Climbing Fig during the cold season as growth is minimal at this time. Feed it monthly during the growing season. 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 Ficus pumila. Read more on how to prune houseplants.
There are three possible causes of dry and shrivelled leaves in Creeping Fig. One possible cause of dry and shrivelled leaves is exposure to direct sunlight.
Protect the plant from direct sunlight or move it away from direct sunlight.
The second cause of dry and shrivelled leaves in Climbing Fig is low humidity.
The third cause of dry and shrivelled leaves in Creeping Fig is due to allowing the soil to dry out completely.
Maintain the soil moist at all times and never allow the soil to dry out completely even in the cold season.
Creeping Fig is prone to root-rot disease which is enhanced by soggy soil. Root rot can cause the plant to die if it is not treated in time.
To avoid soggy soil, ensure that there is free drainage of both the soil and the pot. Read more on root-rot disease and how to deal with it.
Underfeeding Creeping Fig is the reason for yellowing of the leaves at the edges. Monthly feeding with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer through out the growing period is recommended.
Isolate the affected plant to prevent spread to other plants and treat with Neem oil or Insecticidal soap. Keep the Climbing Fig properly pruned at all times to reduce the hiding places for these pests.
Like other plants in the Moraceae family, the sap of Creeping Fig (Ficus pumila) may cause a skin inflammation in sensitive skin as stated by Wikipedia. Always wear gloves when handling Creeping Fig.