170 Ficus pumilaCommon Names: creeping fig, climbing fig Family: Moraceae (mulberry Family)
This aggressive but beautiful evergreen vine is a relative of the edible fig, Ficus cariaca, but bears little resemblance to it's close cousin. Creeping fig is an enthusiastic climber able to scramble up vertical surfaces 3 and 4 stories tall with the aid of a powerful adhesive. This vine coats surfaces with a tracery of fine stems that are densely covered with small heart shaped leaves that are 1 inch long by about .75 in (2 cm) wide, they are held closely to the surface creating a mat of foliage that extends barely 1 in (2.5 cm) from the surface. These are the juvenile leaves. Once the vine has reach the top of its support if will begin to form horizontal branches on which adult foliage is borne. Adult leaves are held alternately in two rows along these branches. They are more leathery than the juveniles, and are dark green, and about 3 in (7.6 cm) long by 2 in (5 cm) wide. The fruit is a fig. These are borne only on the horizontal stems, they are pale green in color and about 3 in (7.6 cm) long by 2.5 in (6.4 cm) wide.
Creeping fig, Ficus pumila, is native to East Asia and is found on Japan's southern islands, eastern China, and Vietnam. This vine is a popular landscape item in many warm climate areas.
CultureCreeping fig is not particular about soil. It's less aggressive and easier to manage when its grown in less fertile, drier soil. This vine will grow at seaside if protected behind dunes or buildings. Light: Shade to sun. Moisture: Water when dry when young. Once the vine matures you can let it fend for itself even during droughts. Hardiness: USDA Zones 8 - 11. Can tolerate freezing temperatures for short durations. Propagation: By cuttings, dust end with rooting hormone powder. Also by layers (the vine will form roots wherever it touches the ground).
Create cool green curtains of dense foliage on unattractive block, masonry, and concrete walls. The city of Orlando, Florida uses this vine to soften concrete freeway supports which helps to dampen traffic noise as well as provide visual relief. Disney and the other theme parks make use of creeping fig to create "instant" topiary. Wire frameworks are created of geometric shapes, animals, and even famous cartoon characters. The frames are lined with sphagnum moss and filled with growing medium. Creeping fig is planted in the frame which rapidly grows to cover the shape in a thin coat of fine-textured juvenile leaves. This vine also makes a good ground cover for large plantings where it looks great scrambling over boulders and tree trunks.
This is one of the best vines for creating dense green coverings due to it's fine attractive foliage, shade tolerance and fast growth rate.
Do not plant near wooden structures as these surfaces are damaged by the adhesive produced by the vine. Consider this a high maintenance plant when grown on structures as pruning will be required several times a year to remove growth from windows, roofs, etc. as the vine relentlessly endeavors to coat everything it encounters in a green blanket.
Jack Scheper 5/22/99; updated 7/23/06