Ficus Pumila: Creeping Fig Growing and Care [HOW TO]

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The Ficus pumila [FY-kus] [POO-mil-uh] is a fast-growing, climbing vine often referred to as the “creeping fig.” Ficus repens is also a synonym.

It’s part of the Ficus genus and the Moraceae family, which is commonly called the mulberry family or fig family.

Up close - ficus pumila "creeping fig" great for climbing up walls , trellis or topiaryPin

Creeping fig is a plant native to Japan, China, and Vietnam but can also be found growing throughout East Asia.

Ficus pumila can grow:

  • Up and along a trellis
  • Planted in a hanging basket
  • As a ground cover
  • To cover a wall, fence, or grow on a topiary

Creeping fig Ficus pumila doesn’t require full sun or a lot of water, making it a simple plant to grow.

Creeping Fig Care

Size and Growth

These evergreen plants have a fast growth rate, eventually reaching up to 15′ feet in length when left to grow. It only has an average spread of 3′ to 6′ feet.

While still young, the plant will produce bright green. In contrast, the mature leaves protrude from the vertical branches and tend to be darker.

The recommended for growing in USDA hardiness zones 9 – 11. This means it tolerates some cold temperatures. However, it grows best in warm regions.

Young plants produce small, heart-shaped leaves measuring about one inch long. As the vining plant matures and thickens, it starts producing larger, thicker green leaves.

Eventually, the leaves should be about 4” inches long and have an oblong shape.

Creeping fig plant climbing a topiaryPin

Do These Plants Produce Flowers?

While climbing figs can produce flowers, you’ll rarely see them, especially if you choose to grow the plant indoors or in colder climates.

On mature plants, the thickest stems produce fuzzy pear-shaped fruits.

These fruits are typically about 2.5 inches long.

However, like flowers, they may not appear when this evergreen plant is grown indoors.

Light Requirements

Plant or place ficus pumila creeping fig in partial shade or sun when growing outdoors.

Complete shade or full sunlight is not always the best option for this houseplant.

When growing indoors, the houseplant should have access to indirect light while avoiding direct afternoon sun. This is because exposure to direct sunlight will burn or scorch the leaves.

Creeping fig vine doesn’t tolerate extreme lighting, including full sun or complete shade.

This plant can tolerate more extremes when it adjusts to the temperature. While it prefers warmer climates, it can be grown in colder regions.

However, if your region drops below freezing, the plant should be brought indoors.

Water and Fertilizer Needs

Ficus pumila doesn’t need frequent water during the cold seasons.

During the summer, it should be watered regularly. The main trick is to avoid overwatering.

Allow the garden soil to get almost completely dry before watering it again. But keep the soil moist at all times.

Moreover, ensure there are adequate drainage holes for potted plants.  

For fertilizer applications, it’s best to feed your creeping fig plant with a weak liquid fertilizer. Do this once a month throughout spring, summer, and fall.

Make sure to avoid direct contact with the leaves.

What Is The Best Soil For Creeping Fig Plant?

This plant is a climbing vine, which requires careful consideration before planting. Ensure you’re growing your Creeping fig plant in soil with high organic matter, well-drained soil, or aerated potting soil mixes.

Avoid wet soils as they can lead to plant diseases.

As mentioned, it’s a great choice for garden trellises or hanging baskets.

You may also choose to grow it near the borders of your garden and allow it to climb over rocks or other objects.

Grow this plant in just about any garden soil or potting mix, offering good drainage.

When placing it in a container, simply use a well-draining soil-based potting mix.

Transplanting or repotting is easy.

However, it’s best to perform these tasks at the beginning of spring, when the plant awakens from its winter dormancy.

Keeping Pumila From Growing “Out Of Control”

Grooming may be needed to keep the vine from growing out of control. Occasional pruning is recommended whether you grow it indoors or outdoors. In addition, major pruning is best done in spring for outdoor plants and potted plants.

As mentioned, variegated creeping figs can reach up to 15′ feet tall. Trimming the plant won’t damage it; you may need to repeat the pruning process each year.

NOTE: This plant grows quickly and can easily overtake other plants in your garden. Regular pruning will also help keep the healthy plant in bounds.

Related: Growing Green Island Ficus Microcarpa The Bonsai Ficus

How To Propagate Creeping Fig Ficus Pumila

To grow more plants, you simply need to cut the stems in the early spring.

Stick the stem cuttings in a pot with normal potting soil.

NOTE: We always recommend dipping cuttings in a rooting hormone for a good start.

Place the pot in a location with high humidity and warm temperatures. It should get plenty of sunlight, but not direct sunlight in the afternoon.

When oak leaf creeping fig begins to grow, you can transplant it to its permanent home.

Climbing Ficus Pest Or Diseases

The “creeping fig” has no serious disease or insect issues, but you should watch out for aphids, mealybugs, and mites.

These pests are common nuisances for a wide variety of plants indoors and out.

One issue to watch out for is exposure to the milky sap produced by the plant’s stems.

This substance can cause skin inflammation, which may be severe for some individuals.

Moreover, another common problem for ficus plants is root rot, which is often caused by soggy soil.

Leaf spots can also be a problem for this plant. This is usually caused bu sudden temperature changes or draughts.

Popular Varieties

There are several varieties and cultivars.

Several of these options have become popular houseplants and are listed here:

  • Ficus pumila “Curly” – features curly foliage instead of the heart-shaped or oblong foliage
  • Ficus pumila quercifolia – this is the oak leaf variety of the creeping fig
  • Ficus pumila variegata – the variegated leaves version is perfect for baskets, small pots and topiaries
Ficus pumila "creeping fig" growing on wall at Disney's Animal Kingdom Orlando Florida, Oct 2018Pin

A Versatile Plant For Home And Landscape

Growing outdoors, it is commonly used for ground cover, covering topiary displays, or growing on trellises.

I’ve seen the creeping fig growing in small hanging baskets and placed in decorative containers.

Moreover, it’s also an excellent indoor plant due to its stunning heart-shaped green leaves.

If you look closely, you’ll find the “creeping ficus” used extensively at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom and the Animal Kingdom, where it covers stone walls or rocks. In the right environment, it can spread quickly and cover these objects.

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