How to grow the creeping fig - Ficus pumila

In northern European homes the creeping fig - Ficus pumila, is a popular trailing houseplant noted for its small, yet attractive foliage and compact habit. However this is just the juvenile stage in its life cycle and so when grown outside in more favourable, warmer conditions the creeping fig changes in habit to a vigorous woody climber with considerably larger leaves.

How to grow the creeping fig - Ficus pumila
It is a self-clinging evergreen, which under favourable conditions can grow to approximately 2.5-4 metres in height and a width of between 1.5-2.5 metres. Juvenile specimens have ovate, heart-shaped leaves to 2.5 cm long, while on mature plants the leaves change to an oblong to elliptic shape. They are also thicker, shinier and up to 10 cm long.

The creeping fig produces tiny, insignificant blooms which are borne within a hollow receptacle. Once pollinated this receptacle enlarges to form purple fruits approximately 5 cm in length. Flowers and fruits are unlikely to appear on house plants, but are expected on mature outdoor specimens.

Grow house plant specimens in a good quality loam-based compost such as John Innes 'No 2 or 3' in filtered light with protection from the afternoon sun.

Outdoor plants will require a minimum temperatures of 7 degrees Celsius, and will perform best in a humus-rich, moist but well-drained soil. Provide a sheltered position in full sun or partial shade with protection from wind in a frost-free area. That being said, you can grow the creeping fig outside in cooler climates but only as an annual.

How to grow the creeping fig - Ficus pumila
With both outdoor and house plant species, water regularly during the growing season, then steadily reduce watering in the autumn. There is no need to water outdoor plants over the winter, houseplants will only need the compost to be slightly moist.

Over the growing season feed pot grown specimens every 10 days or so with a liquid soluble fertilizer.

No specific pruning is needed, other than to maintain a tidy shape.
Warren Wilson Beach House (The Venice Beach House) image is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

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