Creeping Fig (Ficus Pumila)

There is nothing more beautiful than the sight of a vivarium flourishing with life. Tanks are no longer only being decorated with dull artificial plants and plastic rocks. Enclosures have begun to evolve and live plants are now the main attraction. The right type of vegetation can not only set the overall theme of setup but also provide a number of benefits to the miniature ecosystem. One of the many plants that are often used by hobbyists is Creeping Fig. In order to guarantee a healthy and vibrant look, there are a few things to keep in mind when caring for the plant. This article will focus on helping you understand how to grow and care for a Creeping Fig.

Quick Stats:

Scientific Name: Ficus Pumila

Family: Moraceae

Common Names: Climbing Fig, Creeping Fig, Creeping Ficus, Ficus Repens, Fig Ivy

Habitat: Tropical, Subtropical

Height: 10-15ft Tall, 3-6ft Wide

PH Range: 5.5 to 7.5

Temperature: 60°F to 80°F

What Is Creeping Fig?

Creeping fig is a species of flowering plant known for its fast-growing nature and climbing abilities. It is part of the Ficus genus and the Moraceae family, which is usually called the mulberry family or fig family. This plant has the ability to grow in a variety of ways. Among those are; up planted in hanging baskets, as a ground cover, or up and along different surfaces. Due to its remarkable ability to attach itself and climb, this fig is commonly referred to as a vining plant. A vine can be defined as any plant with a growth habit of creeping or trailing stems.

Creeping Fig (Ficus Pumila) Care Guide

Creeping Fig Facts

Creeping Fig is botanically called Ficus pumila. The species name pumila is derived from the Latin word pumilus, which means dwarf and refers to the miniature arrow-shaped leaves produced by the plant when young. However, it has also been referred to as a number of other names. Climbing Fig, Creeping Ficus, Fig Ivy, and Ficus Repens are all common names used to identify the plant. Creeping fig has some similar characteristics and care requirements as English Ivy. For instance, they are both aggressive growers, require very minimal care, and have the ability to self-attach to surfaces. However, Ficus pumila is much less finicky than English ivy.

This plant is able to grow so tall due to its outstanding climbing abilities. This is something that can be credited with having two types of roots. The subterranean roots stretch into the soil, attach the plant to the ground, and absorb water and nutrients. Then, clumps aerial roots will grow along the climbing stems. The aerial roots secrete a clear glue-like material that hardens on drying, allowing the vine to stick to surfaces.

Description

Creeping fig is a plant that from a distance simply does not look much like a fig. Unlike most of its family, which grows as upright trees and shrubs, this plant usually grows as a groundcover or vine. Like most vines, Ficus pumila grows at quite a fast pace. Under the proper conditions and right amount of space, it can eventually grow up to 15 feet in length. However, it only has an average width of about 3 to 6 feet.

The leaves of this plant are oval, asymmetrical, and arrow-shaped. They tend to be filled with threadlike dark veins and will grow to about 4 inches long from a thin brown stem. In their juvenile stage, plants produce small and all green leaves measuring about one-inch long. As the plant matures and ages, it starts producing larger thicker leaves. Eventually, the leaves will reach their full size of four inches long and have an oval shape. Adult Ficus pumila plants change from vertical to horizontal growth and produce waxy dark green leaves.

While Ficus pumila has the ability to create flowers, it is not very common to see them. The flowers are small in size and usually have about 5 oval-shaped petals. They will have a bright yellow center and a clean white tip. On older plants, the thickest stems grow furry bell-shaped fruits. These fruits are typically about 2.5 inches long and purple in color. However, much like the flowers, the fruits almost never appear when the plant is grown indoors.

Habitat

Creeping fig is a species of plant native to tropical or subtropical regions. It is native to countries in East Asia such as China, Japan, and Vietnam. Nonetheless, it has also been established in parts of the south-central and southeastern United States. There it grows freely and very easily adhering itself to rocks, concrete, and other surfaces. Ficus Pumilia growing outdoors or indoors does best in moderate conditions. It tolerates some cold temperatures. However, it grows best in warm regions. Fig’s ideal temperature for optimal growth falls anywhere between 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

PH Preference

Ficus Pumila adapts to a wide range of PH levels. Soil with a PH of 7 is considered neutral. A PH below 7 is acidic and a PH above 7 is alkaline. However, it tends to prefer and thrive within a slightly acidic to a neutral PH ranging between 5.5 to 7.5.

Vivarium Type

This type of Ivy will do great in a variety of vivarium types. When trying to decide whether this plant is right for a specific enclosure, make sure to keep in mind the amount of available space. English Ivy should be placed in a vivarium that has enough amount of land areas away from constant water sources. Some aquatic features are suitable for the plant as long as its leaves have enough room to grow above water. Here are recommended vivariums Ficus Pumila will do well in:

  • Paludariums – Half aquatic/ half terrain-based enclosure.
  • Terrariums – Fully terrain-based enclosure with little to no aquatic features.

Vivarium Placement

Creeping fig is a terrestrial-based plant. Although it does require a good amount of humidity, it should never be left to sit in water. With that in mind, make sure that the plant is kept out of aquatic areas of an enclosure. Do remember that Ficus Pumila is not a small plant. When picking a location to establish the plant, make sure that it will have enough room to grow. The leaves can and should always be trimmed, but having sufficient space will allow them to flourish and look healthier.

Since creeping fig likes to climb most surfaces, it might be a good idea to place it somewhere lower in the vivarium. Planting it near the sides or back walls of the enclosure will give it enough room to grow upwards. Eventually, it can even cover all walls and help hide unattractive equipment. If it is placed more towards the front, frequent pruning is recommended or it can easily begin to overgrow and look messy.

Substrate

Ficus Pumila is a rather easy-going plant when it comes to the substrate. This plant can be grown in just about any soil offering good drainage. Potting mix made from garden soil, peat moss, and perlite is an all-time favorite for those in the field. The peat moss will help maintain the soil damp, while the perlite provides that much-needed drainage. A lack of appropriate drainage can lead to rotting roots and eventually the plant’s death. Also as mentioned before, the soil’s Ph levels should be between 5.5 to 7.5 for optimal growth.

Lighting

Ficus Pumila prefers a bright room but does not like direct sunlight. It can survive in low-light conditions for an extended period but will grow more slowly and perhaps drop leaves. On the other hand, exposing creeping fig to direct sun for too long will dry or burn it out The perfect lighting scenario would be a bright spot that is not in direct sunlight. When setting up lighting inside of a vivarium, fluorescent lights will work extremely well. Try to go for cooler colors that resemble a partially shaded day. Avoid any type of light that has high levels of UV rays.

Buy Creeping Fig

When shopping for possible Creeping fig, expect a few key indicators you are buying the best quality plant. The plant should be slug free along with any other types of pests. In addition, the purchased plant should be green, vibrant, and healthy-looking. Try to avoid any browning or wilting leaves. Those are usually signs of poor health and could make it harder for the plant to survive. Click the image below to find out more about the current price and other relative info of Ficus Pumila:

Creeping Fig Care and Propagation

Ficus Pumila is a plant that does not require much care and maintenance to see positive progress. As long as there is enough room and the plant has adequate care, rapid growth should be expected. In fact, this plant will most likely need frequent trimmings to keep it from becoming too large and taking over the whole enclosure.

How to grow

The easiest way to propagate Creeping fig will be through the process of division. Take an existing parent plant by and cut a few inches from the tip of the stem. Simply repot the new pieces somewhere different and allow for roots to form. The new plants should be placed in a location with high humidity and warm temperatures. It also should get plenty of bright light, but not direct sunlight.

Another thing to keep in mind would be the overall location of the enclosure. Ficus pumila will not do well in drafty areas. If it’s exposed to airflow that’s noticeably colder or warmer than the ambient air, the leaves could start turning a brownish yellow and ultimately drop off. Pay close attention to winds that may come from heating or cooling vents, as well as from exterior doors or windows.

Watering

Ficus Pumila prefers an evenly moist environment. However, it does not do well in overly wet conditions. Sitting in the loamy or watery substrate can lead to root rot and eventually the plant’s death. Don’t let the soil dry out and keep it evenly moist. If the air is too dry, its leaves can go brown and crispy around the edges. A simple way to know if it needs to be watered is to dip a finger into the top layer of the substrate. If the top inch is dry to the touch, then you can proceed with watering, and if it still feels moist, then you can wait a few days before checking again. Watering the plant once every 5 to 7 days is usually ideal as long as it is not under any drastic temperatures.

Plants Similar To Creeping Fig

Adding diversity to an enclosure is key to an aesthetically pleasing setup. Try mixing up the look of your vivarium with different flora that can easily co-exist in the same types of environment. Furthermore, if for some reason you find this ivy hard to acquire or would like to consider something similar to this plant… Here are some other vine plants you might find may do well with or in the place of Creeping Fig:

Radiator Plants (Peperomia Spp.)
Polka Dot Plant (Hypoestes Phyllostachya)
Lipstick Plant (Aeschynanthus Radicans)

Conclusion

In summary, Ficus Pumila can be a great addition to most enclosures. They have a fascinating look and are quite simple to care for. In addition, they’re also excellent and relatively hardy plants that can survive a wide range of different settings and even some levels of mild neglect. If you are a first-time vivarium enthusiast looking to add some fun and color to your enclosure, I’d strongly recommend you give Creeping Fig a try!