Creeping Fig – Ficus pumila

When young, the Creeping Fig has a delicate appearance, but it will grow into a fairly large plant with luxuriant foliage.

The Creeping Fig grows wild in the rain forests of China, Japan and Australia. It creeps along the forest floor and sends long stems up into the trees. The slender stems have roots along their length that cling to the bark. However, when the plant reaches maturity it produces quite different shoots without aerial roots and with much larger leaves.

The plant does not need very much light to thrive, so it will often do well in positions where other plants will not. It does need high humidity around the roots and leaves, so you should mist spray it often throughout the year.

Creeping Fig is fast growing. Older plants, especially those allowed to climb, can produce new growth of some 23-30cm (9-12in) in one year. The leaves of young plants are about 13mm (½in) wide and oval. As the plant matures these become larger and oblong.

VarietiesCreeping Fig - Ficus pumila

One of the most popular varieties is Ficus pumila ‘Sonny’, which has broad white-edged leaves. It is easy to care for but it does need a little more light to maintain its colour.

Display ideas

A young Creeping Fig is bushy and compact and can be kept in a pot on its own. You could also use it as ground cover; letting it spread across the surface of a pot that holds another, larger plant. The , stems will soon grow and hang down over the sides of the pot. If the larger plant needs a bright position, make sure that the Creeping Fig is kept shaded.

Creeping Fig can be trained around a hoop or up a trellis, or grown as a climbing plant supported by a moss pole.

Alternatively, you can use the plant in a hanging basket, allowing its foliage to cascade over the sides.

Propagation

Propagate your plant from cuttings taken from the young but firm stems. Those taken in spring will root more quickly.

1. Trim cuttings to 10cm (4in); remove the lower leaves and dip ends in rooting powder.

2. Fill 8cm (3in) pots with a peaty rooting mixture and insert cut- tings 2.5cm (1 in) deep. Put at least 6 in one pot. Water well and cover with polythene.

3. Put in a warm bright position. After a month roots will have developed. Remove cover and move to a cooler position.

4. After 2-3 months repot in 10cm (4in) pots.

Pests And Diseases

The leaves wither and dry if the plant has been underwatered or has too much sun.

Treatment: Immerse the pot in water until bubbles stop rising from the compost. Water more often or move to a shady position as necessary.

Mealy bug attacks the plant.

Treatment: Remove with a cotton bud dipped in diluted methylated spirit.

The leaves turn yellow if you have overwatered. Treatment: Let the plant dry out a little and water less frequently. Cut back if necessary.

PLANT CARE

This is an easy plant to look after as long as you keep it out of strong sunlight and do not overwater it.

  • Potting: Repot small plants every two years. Use a clay pot and peat-based potting mixture. Larger, more mature plants should be repotted only when absolutely necessary.
  • Water generously during the growing season and moderately in winter. Plants kept in a warm room during winter may need to be watered more generously. Never let the plant dry out; stand on moist pebbles and mist frequently.
  • Feeding: Feed during the growing season at every third watering with a standard liquid fertilizer.

BEST GROWTH ENVIRONMENT

  • Light: Creeping Fig prefers a shaded position and is therefore a good plant for rooms where other plants will not thrive.
  • Temperature: Keep at temperatures around 21°-26°C (70°-78°F) in summer. In the winter, maintain temperatures of 15°-20°C (60°-68°F).

Buying Tips

  • Available throughout the year from most florists, garden centres and nurseries.
  • Choose a plant that has plenty of new shoots. Avoid any that have discoloured or withered leaves and those with lengths of bare stem.
  • The Creeping Fig will last for many years provided it has enough water and a humid atmosphere.
  • Unlike most other varieties of Ficus, the Creeping Fig has rather small leaves and long trailing stems. It can be allowed to hang or trained to climb around a support.

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