Creeping fig: care, propagation & toxicity


I study biology and live in a small jungle in my flat! In my free time, I love taking long walks in nature with my dog while finding and identifying various plants. In spring, I plant all kinds of edible plants on my balcony so that I can use fresh ingredients in my cooking.

Favourite fruit: every kind of berry
Favourite vegetables: cucumbers, tomatoes

Whether you are looking for a climbing plant, hanging plant or ground cover, the creeping fig has you covered! Discover some beautiful Ficus pumila varieties and find out how to care for, propagate and plant creeping figs.

Creeping fig in pot
The Ficus pumila is versatile and easy to care for [Photo: DimaBerlin/]

Creeping figs (Ficus pumila) are low-maintenance, beginner-friendly plants that are great for adding a bit of a jungle feel to your home. They are also quite easy to propagate. Read on to learn all about creeping figs, from where and how to plant them, which soil they like, and how to keep them happy and healthy.

Ficus pumila: origin and characteristics

The creeping fig, also called climbing fig, comes from the humid tropics of Asia and has a very diverse family. It belongs to the genus Ficus within the mulberry family known as Moraceae. It is related to birch figs (Ficus benjamina), edible common figs (Ficus carica) and rubber trees (Ficus elastica), but differs considerably from all of these. For instance, it grows in a creeping manner instead of upright. The botanical name comes from the Latin pumilus, meaning ‘small’, which points towards the small leaf size. Creeping fig leaves are smooth-edged, slightly heart-shaped, evergreen and alternate.

Leaves of the creeping fig
The leaves are on shoots that develop aerial roots, which allow the creeping fig to climb [Photo: Fridayana Baabullah/]

Creeping figs can reach up to 4m in height, but how this plant spreads is largely down to you. Creeping figs have aerial roots which allow them to hold onto things. So, if you give yours a moss pole or simply a rough, plastered wall to grow up, it will grow into a wonderful climbing plant. But you can also plant your creeping fig in a hanging basket and let it trail down as a beautiful, bushy hanging plant. Ficus pumila can even serve as a ground cover, but this requires a little more space, such as in a conservatory.

In their natural habitat, creeping figs bear inconspicuous flowers followed by purple fruits. They flower between May and August. That said, creeping figs rarely produce flowers or fruits when kept as houseplants.

Beautiful creeping fig varieties

Here are some of our favourite varieties of creeping fig:

  • Ficus pumila ‘Variegata’: this variegated creeping fig variety has green leaves and irregularly coloured white leaf edges. They are also notched.
Many potted variegated creeping figs
Ficus pumila ‘Variegata’ needs a little more sunlight than the regular variety [Photo: sharohyip/]
  • Ficus pumila ˈSunny’: this variety of Ficus pumila is also colourful. It resembles Ficus pumila ‘Variegata’ with its white edges but is a little shinier.
Close-up of creeping fig leaves
Ficus pumila ‘White Sunny’ has shinier leaves than Ficus pumila ‘Variegata’ [Photo: Nahhana/]
  • Ficus pumila ‘Curly’: as its name suggests, this variety has green, irregularly curled leaves.
  • Ficus pumila ‘Quercifolia’: this plant is also known as the oak leaf creeping fig, owing to the fact that its leaves resemble oak leaves and are uniformly green. This variety is rare, and it is not yet known whether it belongs to Ficus pumila or if it is a separate species altogether. Oak leaf creeping figs grow much more slowly, making them perfect for terrariums.
  • Ficus pumila ‘Awkeotsang’: this variety is used in Taiwanese cuisine. It forms large fruits in its natural habitat, the seeds of which can be used to make aiyu jelly. In a frost-free greenhouse or cool conservatory, you too could try your luck with this useful variety. However, you will need to manually pollinate the flowers if you want it to produce fruit.
Awkeotsang fig with fruit
Ficus pumila ‘Awkeotsang’ produces large fruits in its natural habitat [Photo: Skyprayer2005/]

How to plant a creeping fig: where, when and how

Where to grow creeping figs depends on the variety. These plants only like light from morning, evening or winter sun. Place varieties with fully green leaves in a bright spot without direct sunlight. Varieties with white edges, such as Ficus pumila ‘Sunny’, can tolerate sun much better. In fact, if these varieties do not get enough sunlight, they may revert, meaning their white edges can turn green. That said, do not place them directly by the window in midday sun. In summer, ensure all varieties are somewhere where the temperature does not get too high. Creeping figs do best at 20 °C. In winter, lower temperatures are also sufficient — more on this below.

Small potted creeping fig plant
Ficus pumila grows best when it is slightly rootbound [Photo: Tatiana Buzmakova/]

The temperature of the water is also important for Ficus pumila. Use room temperature water if possible — just let the water stand out for a while before using it. In spring and summer, water your creeping fig moderately and with soft water. Allow the surface of the soil to dry out a little before watering again. Water even less in autumn and winter, but never let your creeping fig’s soil dry out completely.

As for soil, a neutral to slightly acidic potting soil is ideal for creeping figs. Our Plantura Organic All Purpose Compost provides a variety of garden and indoor plants with all the nutrients they need to stay happy and healthy, and is well-suited to creeping figs. It is also entirely-peat free, making it an environmentally-friendly option.

Organic All Purpose Compost, 40L
Organic All Purpose Compost, 40L
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  • Perfect for all your house, garden & balcony plants
  • For strong & healthy plants as well as an active soil life
  • Peat-free & organic soil: CO2-saving composition

Ficus pumila care

Creeping figs are relatively low-maintenance plants. Most plants you purchase from a shop come in pre-fertilised substrate, meaning they will not need feeding at all in the first year. After that, fertilise with a liquid complete fertiliser every 2 weeks in the summer. Our Plantura Liquid Houseplant Food, for instance, is a good choice for this. It is easy to administer by simply diluting into the water you use for watering and will quickly supply your creeping fig with all the nutrients it needs. By adjusting the dosage, you can also use it to feed a wide range of other plants, including various palms, herbs, shrubs and even succulents.

Liquid Houseplant Food, 800ml
Liquid Houseplant Food, 800ml
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  • Perfect for a wide variety of houseplants & foliage plants
  • Liquid fertiliser for robust plants & healthy growth
  • Quick & easy application - child & pet friendly

Creeping figsalso benefit from the occasional misting with soft water. If your creeping fig starts spreading too much, simply prune it back in the spring or summer. When repotting these plants, make sure the new pot is not too big. Creeping figs do best when their roots are slightly potbound. It is best to repot in spring.

Person misting a creeping fig
Creeping figs like being misted with water from time to time [Photo: DimaBerlin/]

Creeping fig winter care

Creeping figs are not hardy in the UK. While they will tolerate temperatures from 3 °C to 10 °C in winter, they will stop growing. That said, the variety Ficus pumila ‘Variegata’ can cope with temperatures down to 0 °C. In winter, creeping figs need very little water, but remember to never let the soil dry out completely.

Creeping fig outdoors
Creeping figs stop growing at temperatures between 3 °C and 10 °C [Photo: Nigita/]

Creeping fig propagation

Creeping figs are easy to propagate by cuttings. Proceed as follows:

  • Cut off a 10 to 15cm shoot tip and place the cut in a glass of water
  • Avoid placing the glass with the cutting in direct sunlight
  • Once roots have grown, plant the cutting into nutrient-poor soil

Propagating creeping figs by layering is an even more reliable method. To do this, simply bend one of the shoots towards the soil and fix it in place, taking care not to detach it from the mother plant. After a while, it will grow its own roots, at which point you can go ahead and separate it from the mother plant.

Creeping fig with many branches
Creeping figs are easy to propagate by cuttings or layering [Photo: Regreto/]

Tip: propagating by layering can even be done in quite a decorative manner. If you have several hanging baskets next to each other, simply pop your creeping fig’s shoot into a neighbouring pot filled with the appropriate substrate. You do not need to cut off the shoot from the mother plant. However, if you prefer to have your plants separate, you can, but just wait until the daughter plant has formed roots.

Is Ficus pumila poisonous?

Yes, Ficus pumila is poisonous for humans and pets. The milky sap it contains is typical of Ficus plants and, in combination with sun exposure, can irritate the skin. Ingesting any part of the plant could lead to nausea and vomiting in humans, and may even have fatal consequences for pets.

Satin pothos (Scindapsus pictus) is another very low–maintenance climbing houseplant. With these two elegant, easy-to-grow plants, even houseplant beginners will feel like they have their own indoor jungle.