About The Creeping Fig
- The creeping fig (Ficus pumila) is a beautiful, evergreen vine. Also called the climbing fig, it is aesthetically striking and hardy.
- As its name indicates, the creeping fig will climb and weave its way around any structure it can find. The delicate foliage will quickly fill in spaces between vines, creating a dense wall of leaves. It is a relative of the rubber tree as well as the common fig.
- This variety of fig does bear fruit, though it is small and rarely eaten. This plant is more prized for its lush, rapid-growing foliage. Allowed to grow, these strands of leaves form cushiony mats of up to several inches thick. They can make an excellent groundcover, but will kill off any nearby grass.
- Somewhat particular about its habitat, the creeping fig thrives in zones 7-11 in the U.S. It doesn’t do well in the cold, and frosts will kill it.
- Variegated specimens are available. These are very decorative, with lacy white trim surrounding each tiny leaf.
- The climbing fig is quite eye-catching, which is why some people allow it to climb up their house and/or outbuildings. You can achieve this effect without the risk of damage to your home by planting a creeping fig near a trellis or any structure you want and training it to climb.
- Another creative creeping fig idea is to plant it atop a stack of rocks. You can create a sort of waterfall effect by training the plant to “flow” down the rock pile. It can also be trained to “pour” out of an overturned basket for a fun and unique look.
- Planting some well-controlled creeping figs at the outskirts of an orchard or garden can help to keep deer away since most wildlife dislike the taste of them.
- Creeping figs are ideal for use in topiary. Since it attaches itself so solidly and produces such a thick mat, you can quickly go from framework to fantastic creation. Most of the world-famous topiary characters at Walt Disney World are made with creeping figs.
Some Words of Caution
- The seeds and other portions of the creeping fig are poisonous! Keep them away from pets and children. If ingested, contact poison control authorities immediately.
- Another thing to be aware of is that when the creeping fig is uncontained and left to grow, it can become highly invasive. It will choke out nearby plants if given the opportunity. That makes this fig suitable for containers or areas where you don’t mind the overgrowth.
- Most experts warn against allowing the climbing fig to attach itself to your home, garage, or other valuable buildings. This winding vine will peel paint, pop screws, and otherwise wreak havoc on fences, buildings, and any other structure. It can also attract insects and mold that cause costly damage. The worst part is that you won’t be able to see this happening because of the dense cover provided by the fig. By the time you become aware of what’s going on, damage could be extensive.
- The root system is huge and intricate, and extremely hard to remove. Climbing fig is very difficult to kill and will grow back from even a small portion of roots left behind. The woody roots can easily break through concrete, putting sidewalks and even structural foundations at risk.
- Be courteous to your neighbors. Because of its extremely prolific nature, these plants should be planted far from property lines. You may love the way climbing fig cascades over a fence, but make sure your neighbor feels the same way.