Ficus pumila is the creeping fig vine. It can quickly climb to a height of 30 feet by means of an adhesive produced by its stems. The inch long leaves of the species are solid green. ‘Varigata’ has white spots and ‘Minima’ has smaller leaves.
Ficus pumila creeping fig vine covering the walls of the courtyard outside the Holiday House restaurant in Deland, Florida.
Creeping fig ‘Rikki’ is a bi-colored form with two shades of green on each leaf.
The juvenile foliage, which the plant will produce until it reaches the top of its support, is thin. The mature leaves, which are produced on horizontal branches that only form after the vine can no longer grow vertically, are thicker, larger, and darker.
Walt Disney World and other central Florida theme parks use this East Asian vine to create topiary. The city of Orlando, Florida is using it to cover freeway supports.
You can use it to cover any concrete wall you wish to drape a cool, green blanket over. The vine will grow flat, barely extending an inch from the surface it is clinging to.
And, unless you are prepared to prune it back several times a year, you should not plant this vine on a wall with windows in it. It will cover the windows, unless you stop it.
Creeping fig vine's roots have been known to crawl into cracks in concrete, or between bricks and damage buildings.
Plant it in shade and keep it moist. It doesn’t like to dry out. It can, however, be planted in sandy soil and kept drier as a means of controlling its vigor which can be a problem in certain situations.
Once creeping fig has established itself, it can be nearly impossible to eradicate. It will root wherever it touches the soil. If it wanders into a tree, it can cover it with a dense mat of foliage and smother it.
Of course, this is more of a problem at the southern end of its hardiness range (zones 8-11). The cold tends to check it in zone 8.
Regular maintenance is required to keep it under control. It is otherwise easy to care for.
The creeping fig is an easy to care for foliage house plant. If you plant 1 of the variegated varieties, you will not miss the flowers.
Planting the vine in a hanging basket will allow it to cascade instead of climbing.
It can also be trained around a wire topiary frame like this one:
One of the creeping fig's biggest selling points is that it can grow in the low light of a northern window.
Solid green varieties will adapt best to dim lighting.
Variegated leaves require greater light intensity in order to maintain their white spots.
These plants will adapt to a variety of light conditions--from semi-sunny to shady. They are not picky about indoor temperatures but do prefer at least 30% humidity.
They can cope with less. If your house is very dry, try placing them in the kitchen or bath.
Keep their soil moist at all times.
The creeping fig vine bears pale green fruits which look just like any common, edible fig. The fruits are approximately 3 inches long. Some references say they are edible, some claim they are toxic. I do not recommend eating them.
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