Botanical Name: Ficus pumila
Origin: The Creeping Fig originates from Japan and China.
Height: This plant trails up to around 90 cm (3 ft).
Soil: Ficus pumila is quite content with any quality potting mix.
Light: Although the Creeping, or Climbing, Fig likes bright light, it should be kept out of direct sunlight, as this may cause the leaves to become dry and shrivel up. This house plant will tolerate low light conditions if need be.
Humidity: Levels of humidity need to be moderate to high for this plant.
Temperatures: As far as temperatures go, this house plant is easy going, tolerating temperatures ranging from 13 to 29 degrees C (55 to 85, degrees F).
Water: From early spring until the end of autumn, the soil should be kept slightly moist. Watering should be reduced for the winter months.
Fertiliser: For the period from spring into autumn, the Creeping Fig should be fed monthly with a diluted (by half), well balanced fertiliser (liquid).
Propagation: Stem cuttings should be taken in spring. They will root nicely in fresh potting compost.
Description and Care Tips
The heart-shaped, small leaves densely cover the long, trailing, creeping and climbing stems of the Creeping Fig. Growing fast, this lovely plant needs to be pruned regularly to keep it in shape and under control. In addition, pruning will also encourage the growth of new branches, resulting in a much fuller plant. Up to a third of the growth can be trimmed back at a time to keep the Creeping Fig compact.
One of the main things to remember when caring for this house plant is to make sure it does not get over-watered. The top of the potting mix should be allowed to dry out approximately 2.5 cm (1 in) deep before watering thoroughly. Obviously, adequate drainage is essential to prevent the soil from becoming soggy, which may cause the plant to rot. In winter, watering should be reduced to a bare minimum, just stopping the soil from drying out completely.
Repotting should be done in spring, but only when it becomes absolutely necessary, as Ficus pumila prefers to be a little pot-bound. It should, in fact, only be necessary to repot it once every three years or so. It is often possible to use the same container and just refresh the potting mix, but if a new container is used, it should only be one size larger than the old one.
The beauty of Creeping Figs can be shown off in various ways. This house plant looks excellent spilling out of a hanging basket, for instance. Another option is to allow the aerial roots to grip onto a topiary, trellis or moss support. It usually helps to initially tie them loosely to the intended support with soft florist's wire. How the Creeping Fig will look is really only limited by its owner's imagination.
Alternatively, Ficus pumila can be planted underneath a taller house plant as a type of ground cover, allowing the trailing stems to spill out over the container's sides. Ficus benjamina (the Braided Weeping Fig) or Norfolk Island Pines, for instance, are particularly well complimented by the addition of Ficus pumila.