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Ficus pumila (photo courtesy of Linda Lamb Peters)
Ficus pumila (photo courtesy of Linda Lamb Peters)

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Zone
Zones 8-24, H1, H2
Full SunPartial SunNo Sun
Full, Partial, Shade
Regular Water
Moderate

Ficus pumila

Creeping Fig
Moraceae
Evergreen, Vines, Decorative fruit or berries

FICUS

The average gardener would never expect to find the commercial edible fig, small-leafed climbing fig, banyan tree, and potted rubber tree under one heading—but they are classed together because they bear small or large figs (inedible in most species). Ornamental types are discussed here; for sorts grown for tasty fruit, see Fig. Many ornamental species make good houseplants. Generally, they thrive on rich, steadily moist (not wet) soil, frequent light feedings, and bright, indirect light.

Ficus pumila

Native to China, Japan, and Australia. This plant has a most unfiglike habit; it is one of the few plants that attach themselves securely to wood, masonry, or even metal in barnacle fashion. Because it is grown on walls and thus protected, it is found in colder climates more often than any other evergreen fig. Grows in sun or shade but will burn on a hot south or west wall. Looks innocent enough in youth, making a delicate tracery of tiny, heart-shaped leaves. Juvenile foliage ultimately develops into big (2–4-in.-long), leathery leaves borne on stubby branches that bear large oblong fruits. In time, stems will envelop a three- or four-story building so completely that it becomes necessary to keep them trimmed away from windows. It’s safe to use on house walls if you cut it to the ground every few years; also control by removing fruiting stems from time to time as they form. Roots are invasive. ‘Minima’ has shorter, narrower leaves than species. ‘Variegata’ has standard-size leaves with creamy white markings. F. p. quercifolia (F. p. ‘Oakleaf’) has small, lobed leaves that resemble miniature oak leaves.

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