Plant DetailShow Menu

Climbing Fig Ficus pumila

Other Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
FY-kus POO-mih-lah
Description

Creeping fig is a broadleaf, evergreen, woody, climber in the mulberry family (Moraceae). It is native to central and southern China and eastern Asia. It is a vigorous grower and, in favorable conditions, will climb 8 to 15 feet high and spread 3 to 6 feet wide. It climbs, like English ivy, by attaching itself to walls or supports via clusters of short roots. The species epithet means “small,” which is true only in comparison to other species of Ficus, most of which are large trees.

The creeping fig is not reliably winter hardy in most of North Carolina; severe cold will kill the climber to the ground. It is more often grown as an annual groundcover, as a houseplant, or in a greenhouse. Indoors, grow it in a soil-based potting mix placed in a spot that receives bright indirect light or part shade and protection from afternoon sun. Water regularly during the growing season and reduce watering from fall to late winter. Prune as needed. When grown outdoors, the plant prefers partial shade or dappled sunlight but will tolerate full sun in moist, well-drained soil high in organic matter. It does best in high humidity. Grown on a south-facing wall, it may overwinter more reliably. It is drought, deer, and moderately salt tolerant.

Creeping fig can cement itself to porous surfaces and will cover moist surfaces quickly. It will climb a rock wall or another vertical space in a butterfly garden or use it as a ground cover. Variegated forms are available.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: Watch for scale, aphids, mealybugs, thrips and spider mites.

VIDEO Created by Elisabeth Meyer for "Annuals, Perennials, Vines, and Groundcovers" a plant identification course offered in partnership with Longwood Gardens. 

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscape:
Shady Garden in Cabarrus County
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Curly'
    curled leaf, with variegated stripe in the middle of the leaf
  • 'Minima' or Miniature Creeping Fig
    guilted leaf leaf pattern, used in terrariums or container ground cover, slow growing, mat-like
  • 'Quercifolia' or Miniature Oakleaf Fig
    very small ground cover for containers or terrariums
  • 'Variegata'
    small, heart-shaped green leaves with wide white margins, wiry stems, creeping or climbing vine
'Curly', 'Minima' or Miniature Creeping Fig, 'Quercifolia' or Miniature Oakleaf Fig, 'Variegata'
Tags:
#evergreen#houseplant#drought tolerant#salt tolerant#apvg#deer resistant#groundcover#fantz#vine#problem for cats#apvg-vg#problem for dogs#problem for horses
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Curly'
    curled leaf, with variegated stripe in the middle of the leaf
  • 'Minima' or Miniature Creeping Fig
    guilted leaf leaf pattern, used in terrariums or container ground cover, slow growing, mat-like
  • 'Quercifolia' or Miniature Oakleaf Fig
    very small ground cover for containers or terrariums
  • 'Variegata'
    small, heart-shaped green leaves with wide white margins, wiry stems, creeping or climbing vine
'Curly', 'Minima' or Miniature Creeping Fig, 'Quercifolia' or Miniature Oakleaf Fig, 'Variegata'
Tags:
#evergreen#houseplant#drought tolerant#salt tolerant#apvg#deer resistant#groundcover#fantz#vine#problem for cats#apvg-vg#problem for dogs#problem for horses
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Ficus
    Species:
    pumila
    Family:
    Moraceae
    Life Cycle:
    Annual
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Central and Southern China, Eastern Asia
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    deer and drought resistant
    Climbing Method:
    Clinging
    Edibility:
    Not usually grown for edible fruit, but properly prepared it is popular in Asian countries.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 8 ft. 0 in. - 15 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 3 ft. 0 in. - 6 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Houseplant
    Vine
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Climbing
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Dappled Sunlight (Shade through upper canopy all day)
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10a, 10b, 11a, 11b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Green
    Purple/Lavender
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Fruit Length:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Width:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Description:
    When grown outdoors, pear-shaped to cylindrical fig, mostly solitary, may appear throughout the year. They are green with white flecks maturing to purple, densely hairy, and 2.5 inches long by 1.5 inches wide. They are insipid and not worth eating. Flowers and fruits rarely appear on indoor plants.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Insignificant
    Flower Description:
    When grown outdoors, the adult form displays minute, axillary, unisexual flowers enclosed in fleshy receptacle (fig), entered by apical orifice and pollinated by fig wasps. Rarely flowers when grown indoors.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Cordate
    Elliptical
    Ovate
    Subcordate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    On climbing stems, juvenile leaves are alternate, simple, heart-shaped, acute, cordate, entire, medium to dark green, glabrous and bumpy above, pubescent below, to 1 inch long with a short petiole. On fruit bearing stems, adult leaves are more ovate-elliptic, slightly acute to obtuse, rotund to subcordate, very dark green above, pale below, reticulate, coriaceous, to 4 inches long.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    Stems have a milky sap. The juvenile form is slender, climbing by adventitious roots. Adult shoots are non-climbing (and extend horizontally away from the wall on which the plant climbs) and have larger leaves. Adult branches bear the figs.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Houseplants
    Rock Wall
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Attracts:
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Drought
    Salt
    Problems:
    Problem for Cats
    Problem for Dogs
    Problem for Horses