The creeping fig has been a popular garden plant for many years. It’s mainly used to grow over and cover up unsightly walls or to create a lush, green backdrop in the garden.
The creeping fig's botanical name is Ficus pumila. This plant can be used as an indoor plant, it’s good in terrariums and fine for use with topiary. Outside it grows quickly over archways and covers walls with lightning speed.
This is a hardy plant, it’ll withstand cold temperatures extremely well and when grown in pots it won’t drop its leaves if it gets cold or is moved – unlike many other members of the Ficus genus.
In the garden, it’s best to plant the creeping fig in a mostly shaded location, however, when established the plant can withstand any type of weather the Border can throw at it.
This plant will attach itself to vertical surfaces by means of aerial roots. It attaches tightly to brickwork and wooden fences and moderately to tin surfaces. I’ve seen this plant cover a window, but the aerial roots didn’t get a good grip and the plant was easy to cut back.
This is a plant that has a distinctive juvenile stage and a completely different adult stage.
The Ficus pumila has small heart-shaped, wrinkled leaves when it’s juvenile.
This is the stage most people want in their indoor plants.
When the plant matures, it produces much larger, smooth adult leaves and now instead of fine stems, the plant will produce woody branches.
It’s important to remember that this is a vigorous climber and if you don’t cut back the mature foliage it will grow prolifically and become heavy enough to pull down fences.
To prevent this, you just need to prune regularly.
If you’re a lazy gardener, this plant might not be for you because it requires regular maintenance to stop it getting out of hand.
If you’re green-thumbed you might find this plant a great addition to the garden.
Deb Delahunty, Wodonga TAFE