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Creeping Fig Care: 5 Top Tips You Should Know

The Creeping Fig, also known as Ficus pumila, is a plant characterized by its small, round leaves and a vine that tends to stretch out, crawling up surfaces. The vine produces aerial roots that allow it to climb trees, rocks, and walls.

The vine spreads thanks to its vigorous growth rapidly, making it a popular choice for hanging planters. Its shade tolerance makes it easy to cultivate, even for those new to keeping plants.

However, it’s somewhat sensitive to dry air, so a critical tip is to mist the leaves throughout the year.

The Creeping Fig is available in various forms—not only with white variegated leaves but also with pure green leaves or curly leaves. Its natural ambiance makes it possible to enjoy coordinating it with your interior decor.

Despite its tropical origins, it’s rather cold-hardy and can be used for exterior wall greening like ivy.

Some people even let it creep on fences and buildings. However, be cautious, as the aerial roots it uses to cling can damage exterior walls.

The Creeping Fig’s small size and bright, refreshing ambiance make it a perfect accent just by placing a potted plant on a shelf in your living room, kitchen, or bathroom.

It’s an ideal fit for natural or Scandinavian style and minimalist spaces. You’ll often find it popular in stores, cafes, and offices.

Creeping Fig Symbolism

The language of flowers, or the symbolic meanings associated with the Creeping Fig, include phrases like “You lift my spirits” and “Knowledge.” These phrases reflect its tendency to stretch its vine and increase its leaves vigorously.

Despite its delicate appearance, the Creeping Fig is well-loved for its hardiness. The phrase “You lift my spirits” makes it a perfect gift for someone you appreciate.

It’s an easy plant to care for, making it a pleasant surprise for those new to growing indoor plants. Also, its natural look pairs well with various interior styles—ideal for anyone looking to add a touch of chic to their room.

The Feng Shui of the Creeping Fig

The Creeping Fig is said to have the Feng Shui power to boost love luck. Plants with small, lush leaves are believed to improve interpersonal relationships, so placing them in the southeast, known for attracting good relationships, can be effective.

Moreover, its round leaves are also thought to provide a calming effect. Therefore, it should be placed in relaxing areas such as the living room or bedroom. It’s especially suitable for those leading busy lives.

Placing an indoor plant in your room doesn’t yield ample Feng Shui benefits. You can harness its Feng Shui power by organizing the placement, routinely caring for the plant, and helping it thrive.

How to Grow a Creeping Fig (Ficus pumila)

SunlightPlace it in a bright location without direct sunlight.
TemperatureMaintain a minimum of 41°F (5°C).
Cold ToleranceHigh
Heat ToleranceHigh
WateringSpring-Summer: When you can’t feel moisture by touching the soil (when it has dried to the center of the pot)Fall-Winter: When you can’t feel moisture by touching the soil (when it has dried to the center of the pot)
FertilizerUse slow-release and liquid fertilizers
Pruning PeriodMay to October

1- Location and Sunlight

The Creeping Fig enjoys environments with good sunlight and air circulation. However, be careful as it can easily get sunburned by strong summer sunlight or afternoon sun.

Though it is shade-tolerant, growth can be hindered if the plant is placed in a spot too dark where little sunlight penetrates.

It will become frail, and the leaf color will suffer, so please put it near a bright window.

Soften it with lace curtains if direct sunlight comes in during summer indoors. It can grow outdoors too, but if you’re growing it in a pot, manage it in the shade during summer and move it indoors during winter.

If you live in a region that doesn’t snow in winter, it can overwinter outdoors if planted in the ground, but it’s safer to move potted plants indoors.

2-  Temperature

The Creeping Fig is a hardy plant regarding cold tolerance for an indoor plant. Keep it at a minimum of 41°F (5°C). It can withstand temperatures down to 32°F (0°C), but that can cause leaves to fall.

Windows can become as cold as outdoors in winter, so keep it in a bright place away from windows.

However, be careful, as the leaves may get damaged due to sudden dryness from heating.

As a climbing plant, it’s possible to manage it without contact with cold air from the floor by hanging it from a plant hanger or placing it on a high stand.

3- Frequency of Watering

  • Spring-Summer: When you can’t feel moisture by touching the soil (when it has dried to the center of the pot)
  • Fall-Winter: When you can’t feel moisture by touching the soil (when it has dried to the center of the pot)

During the growth period in spring and summer, water it thoroughly so that water flows from the bottom of the pot when you can’t feel the moisture in the soil (when it has dried to the center of the pot).

However, over-drying can lead to leaf drop, so especially in mid-summer, check frequently that the soil is not too dry. Overwatering and leaving water in the saucer can cause root rot.

After watering, it’s important to dispose of any water accumulated in the saucer promptly. From fall, when temperatures drop, gradually reduce watering, watching the dryness of the soil.

Even in winter, water the plant when you can’t feel the moisture in the soil (when it has dried to the center of the pot).

Since the air dries out during this period, giving leaf water and watering helps maintain vibrant and healthy leaves.

The Creeping Fig’s leaves tend to become crisp due to dry air, so please give it leaf water frequently in dry winters.

However, giving water or leaf water during cold hours can have a counter effect, so do it during warm hours indoors.

4- Fertilizer

From May to October, the growing season for your Ficus pumila, I recommend applying top dressing fertilizer once every two months or substituting your regular watering with a diluted liquid fertilizer once every two weeks. During the winter, as the growth slows down, there’s no need for fertilizer.

While your Ficus Pumila can grow sufficiently even with less fertilizer, if you wish to bring out the vibrancy of its variegated colors or encourage a fuller leaf growth, you should consider adding extra fertilizer apart from the base fertilizer mixed in the soil.

But remember, over-fertilization can harm the roots, so adhere strictly to the application rate and timing.

5- Pruning

The pruning period for your Ficus Pumila is from May to October. Prune any leaves or vines that have become damaged or overgrown.

New buds emerge from the base of the leaves, so it’s okay to cut from any part with leaves.

While pruning, keep a mental image of the post-pruning appearance and prune back generously for better ventilation.

The best time for pruning is from spring to summer, when temperatures start to rise, rather than in the fall, when temperatures decrease.

If you’ve been growing your plant for many years, the vine base may have become woody, much like a tree branch.

The woody parts may struggle to produce new buds if the plant grows in a pot, so be careful while pruning.

As a member of the rubber tree family, the Ficus Pumila secretes a sap that can cause a rash in some individuals.

So, remember to wear gloves while pruning for safety. If you come into contact with the sap, rinse thoroughly with running water.

Common Problems and Their Solutions

While your Ficus Pumila is a great match for a natural interior, it has problems. In this section, we’ll explain how to handle these issues, so you can rest easy when something does happen.

Root Rot

Signs of root rot include:

  • Lack of vitality despite watering
  • Soil not drying out
  • Leaves easily falling off
  • Leaves turning brown/yellow
  • Soft trunk or trunk base
  • Decaying smell from the soil
  • Mold growing on the soil surface
  • Roots turning black

Root rot occurs when the oxygen level in the soil drops, altering the bacterial flora in the soil, which in turn promotes decay of organic matter. This process releases harmful ammonia, degrading the soil environment. 

Additionally, if the soil is constantly wet, the roots cannot breathe, leading to cell death.

This issue can prevent the plant from drawing water from the roots, stopping water supply to the plant body and ultimately causing the plant to die.

To deal with root rot:

  • Uproot the plant from the pot or ground, shake off the bad soil, and replace it with well-draining soil.
  • Cut off the damaged or rotted parts of the root.
  • Give a small amount of water and manage the plant in a bright, well-ventilated shade.
  • As a guideline, manage in a condition where the water dries out in about a week.
  • Try giving a root stimulant.
  • Remove damaged leaves.
  • Cut off dead branches.

When root rot sets in, switching up your soil and altering the plant’s environment is crucial. Let’s get rid of the damaged roots and give our plants an environment to help them regain health.

We can improve drainage and prevent root rot by mixing soil amendments like perlite into the soil.

If the tips of the branches are damaged, cut them back to a living part to stimulate new leaf growth and recovery.

If the rot originates from the root base, cut a healthy part and use the cutting for propagation to restore health.

When root rot occurs, we often see the phenomenon of the plant shedding old leaves to save new buds. With severe root rot, be careful, as new buds and branch tips can die off.


When a plant is root-bound, the pot fills with roots. You start to see symptoms like

  • Difficulty for water to permeate
  • Roots emerging from the pot’s bottom
  • Leaves turning yellow
  • Cracks in the pot,

Especially during the growth period in spring and summer; the symptoms mentioned above can happen as the plant grows rapidly. While it’s not an immediate threat, if left unattended, it could negatively affect Ficus pumila.

The solution? Replant your Ficus pumila

Moving your Ficus pumila to a pot one size bigger than the current one will likely solve most symptoms. The best time to repot is during the spring and summer growth period.

Leaf Burn

For leaf burn, you may notice the following symptoms:

  • The leaf color fades, and they turn white
  • Parts of the leaves turn brown and wither

Excessive sunlight can damage leaves, causing this issue known as “leaf burn.”

Once you notice leaf burn symptoms, you must promptly reconsider the plant’s location.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Move it to a bright spot, out of direct sunlight
  • Cut off the burnt parts

Leaf burn indicates that your plant might be getting too much sunlight. So, let’s make sure to avoid direct sunlight.

Remember, once the leaves have burned, they’ll never return to their previous state. Cut off the damaged leaves and wait for new, healthy ones to grow.

Spider Mites

For spider mites, you may notice the following symptoms:

  • Leaves have web-like threads
  • Tiny bugs on the underside of leaves
  • Spots or wounds on leaves
  • Leaves have faded in color, and withered

Spider mites are a tricky pest, with a strong capacity to multiply and resist pesticides.

Ignoring them could result in rapid infestation, so prompt action is vital.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Cut off the damaged leaves
  • Wash the front and back of the leaves, the base, and the stem with water
  • Spraying Neem Oil can be effective  (In addition to neem oil, a diluted solution of milk (1:2), a mixture of baking soda and water, strong coffee, or vinegar diluted ten times can also be effective)

While there are remedies like spraying a diluted milk solution, simply washing with water is recommended if you’re sensitive to smells.

Generally, you can prevent spider mites with frequent misting and diligent leaf cleaning.

Maintaining cleanliness is vital. Consider investing in a misting spray bottle. A monthly shower or wash-down is also essential for good plant management.

Frequently Asked Questions about Ficus Pumila

Can Ficus Pumila be grown hydroponically (also known as water culture)?

Yes, Ficus Pumila can be grown hydroponically. It’s pretty simple – just place the vines you’ve pruned into the water, and soon enough, roots will sprout, and you can continue growing the plant from there.

However, remember that in hydroponic systems, there aren’t any microorganisms to break down waste products from the roots, which could lead to root decay. Therefore, changing the water daily ensures a thriving Ficus pumila.

These plants love a bright environment, so placing them near a window is best. Just remember, if the glass or the water in the container gets too warm from direct sunlight, it can adversely affect the plant’s growth.

If you’re using Hydro Balls in your hydroponic setup, it could mitigate root damage and help the plant grow well.

If you’re switching a Ficus Pumila from soil to water culture, rinse the soil thoroughly with running water.

Does Ficus Pumila have any toxic properties?

Ficus Pumila does contain latex, which can cause skin irritation or hives. All members of the Ficus genus, which includes rubber trees, contain latex in their white sap, so it’s important to be cautious.

But don’t worry – the latex doesn’t have strong toxicity. However, as it’s a main component of natural rubber, those with a rubber allergy should avoid touching the sap.

It’s safer to wear gloves when pruning or repotting. If you come in contact with the sap, wash it off thoroughly with running water. It’s also important to ensure pets or small children don’t ingest any part of the plant.

Why is my Ficus Pumila wilting?

The most common reasons for a Ficus Pumila to wilt are insufficient sunlight, overwatering (or underwatering), and cold temperatures.

Despite its shade tolerance, the plant may wilt if placed in a too-dark location. Ensure it’s getting enough sunlight. Overwatering can lead to root rot, so watering the plant properly is important.

During the slow-growing winter season, the soil can dry out a bit. If root rot does occur, remove the damaged roots and repot the plant as soon as possible.

Repeated dehydration can also damage the roots. Therefore, checking the soil’s moisture levels before watering is crucial.

Ficus pumila is sensitive to temperatures below 32°F (0°C), so bringing it indoors during the cooler fall months is safer. During winter, maintain temperatures above 41°F (5°C), and keep the plant away from cold windows.

What’s the proper way to propagate Ficus Pumila?

The best way to propagate your Ficus pumila is through cuttings, and the best time to do this is from May to July, when the temperatures are rising.

You’ll want to cut about 4-6 inches (10-15 cm) from the tip of the vine, leaving 2-3 leaves on it. After that, let it absorb water for about an hour before gently planting it in the soil.

Keeping it in a bright, shaded spot and ensuring the soil doesn’t dry out, you should see roots and new sprouts emerge in about a month.

A key point to remember when propagating Ficus Pumila cuttings is to prevent them from drying by regularly watering the leaves until the new shoots emerge.

Why are my Ficus Pumila leaves becoming crispy?

There could be a couple of reasons why the leaves of your Ficus Pumila are getting crispy – it’s often due to dry air or the plant being underwatered.

Ficus Pumila doesn’t fare well in dry air. The leaves can lose moisture and become crispy if exposed to direct heating or cooling.

When growing your plant indoors, place it away from direct exposure to heating or cooling appliances. Extra care must be taken in winter when the air is drier.

Also, if the soil gets too dry for too long, the leaves can lose moisture and become crispy. Especially in summer’s height, check the soil moisture regularly to prevent it from drying out.

Maintaining high humidity by watering the leaves when watering the plant helps Ficus Pumila retain its beautiful leaves year-round. If you’re doing this in winter, ensure to do it during the warmer parts of the day.

Can you plant Ficus Pumila in the ground?

Yes, Ficus Pumila can indeed be planted in the ground. However, it might struggle to survive in areas where temperatures drop below freezing for several days in the winter.

Ficus Pumila grows vigorously, and once it takes root in the ground, it can quickly cover fences or walls. If it gets too large, prune it during the growing season from May to October.

In summary, Ficus Pumila can be easily grown indoors in a bright and well-ventilated room throughout the year. Its delicate and cute leaves will certainly enhance your natural indoor greenery.

Its flower language of “You cheer me up” makes an excellent gift for someone who has been taking care of you. It is also said to have a feng shui effect of enhancing romantic luck, which could be a pleasant surprise for those seeking encounters. 

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