Last Updated on October 10, 2022 by Plant Mom Care
Creeping Fig or Ficus Pumila, indigenous to Asia is a “civilized” vining plant, unlike its other larger cousins. It is suitable for growing indoors in larger pots or terrariums and creates a pretty cascade spilling over the edges of the pots. When grown indoors, the young plant has heart-shaped glossy leaves growing on slender stems. Outdoors however mature leaves become leathery and elliptical.
The flowers are insignificant and the fruits are hairy and green with white specks when young turning purple when mature. This enthusiastic climber can withstand more aggressive pruning than other finicky vine species such as English Ivy. If you plant it outdoors, regular pruning is necessary to prevent it from spreading and damaging nearby plants.
It is usually planted in autumn and grows slowly at first increasing the pace as it becomes mature, eventually reaching lengths of almost 15 feet. Since its roots are designed to spread aggressively, potted plants don’t live long and will not produce flowers or fruit.
Propagating the plant every two years or so will keep the plant growing longer than its usual indoor life. Doing this will ensure that you have a replacement waiting when the original plant fails.
Creeping Fig Light Requirements
This plant prefers bright indirect light when growing indoors. Direct sunlight tends to burn the leaves overall, aim to give the plant 6 – 8 hours of indirect light every day. It can also tolerate low light for some time but growth will slow down and the plant might start dropping leaves.
Creeping Fig Watering
Keep the plant consistently moist but don’t let the roots sit in water. Let the soil dry out before watering again. Usually, water the plant regularly about once weekly in spring and summer.
Reduce watering in autumn and winter when the plant becomes partially dormant to once in 10 days or so. Watering should be reduced but not that much or leaves will start dropping. Over-watering can also result in leaf drop or becoming brown.
Creeping Fig Humidity
This plant prefers humidity levels around 50% or higher, so keep it in a humid room indoors like a bathroom or kitchen and use a humidifier.
Creeping Fig Temperature
Due to its tropical origins, this plant prefers a warm environment. Temperatures between 65 – 85°F are preferred but never allowed to drop below 55°F.
Creeping Fig Soil
This plant can grow in different soil types, just as long as they are well-draining. Typically you can use any commercial potting mix.
Creeping Fig Repotting
Repot this plant whenever its roots grow out of the pot’s drainage holes — this might be every year. This plant grows well if it is slightly root-bound, so instead of repotting it in a larger container, simply prune down the roots and repot in the same pot after replacing the potting mix.
Creeping Fig Propagation
As this plant rarely produces flowers indoors, collecting seeds to propagate it is not an option. However, it can easily be propagated from cuttings.
Take a 4 or 6-inch cutting from a new shoot in spring when the plant starts actively growing. Plant it in a regular potting mix. Rooting hormones are unnecessary.
Keep it in a warm and humid spot with bright but indirect light. Covering the pot with a clear plastic bag can help retain humidity.
When new growth emerges, you can transplant it to a larger permanent container.
While this plant can thrive without fertilizer, you can help it grow faster by feeding it with a diluted balanced fertilizer every month in spring, summer and autumn reducing it to every second month during winter.
Indoor plants should be pruned well so stems are not longer than 3 feet. Be aware that this plant is a climber, creeping up walls and any other structures close by if you don’t keep an eye out. The best time for pruning is in spring.
A word of warning – the milky sap of all plants in the genus is a skin irritant so always wear gloves when you prune this plant.
Outdoor plants often develop scorched leaves due to direct sun. Lightly brush away dead leaves with your hand to dislodge them.
Creeping Fig Common Problems
This plant is susceptible to the usual common variety of pests when grown indoors such as mealybugs, aphids, scale, and whitefly. Try and identify the culprit as soon as possible and treat the plant straight away with neem oil or any other horticultural oil. As a precaution keep the plant away from other plants until all signs of pest infestation have gone.
When it is grown in the garden and climbs up walls the suckering discs the plant uses to attach itself can damage brick, wood, or stucco surfaces. For example, bricks can be loosened by the damage caused to mortar by the adhesive discs. Even if you remove the vine, unattractive stains often remain.
This can be avoided by keeping away from building walls and providing the vine with a trellis or arbor to support its desire to climb.
Plants growing outdoors can be scorched by strong winter winds. While this won’t injure the plant it is unattractive. Brush off dead leaves by hand to avoid this problem plant it in a protected area.
This plant has two phases of growth; juvenile plants have small leaves that look nice on indoor potted plants but the leaves become larger and leathery when mature and less attractive when growing indoors. The best approach is to propagate new plants and discard the mature ones or replant them outdoors.
Sometimes even if the plant is well-cared for and getting enough indirect light and water, a potted plant might start displaying slow growth and scant foliage –this usually indicates that it has possibly outgrown its pot. As mentioned, these fast-growing plants need repotting every year. While they like to get slightly root-bound, it’s best to prune down the roots and repot them.
Is creeping fig easy to maintain?
This plant is relatively easy to maintain, with no need for extra feeding or care but it has to be pruned every spring to keep it to a size suitable for growing indoors. The good news is that it can be pruned as much as you like without any adverse issues.
Do creeping figs grow fast?
These plants are fast growers, eventually reaching almost 15 feet in length if not pruned. Juvenile growth has aerial roots that can encompass a wall in two or three years. Mature plants also grow fast if not trimmed regularly. Plants growing outdoors in optimal conditions often grow power poles or trees to over 30 feet high.
How close to a wall should I plant the creeping fig?
If you want to cover your building’s walls, space the plants about 2 feet apart, about 12 inches from the walls. Add some compost and also work in some granular fertilizer to the soil. Dig holes every 2 feet and insert the plants at the same depth as they were grown in their pots.