Creeping Fig – Plant of the Week

Don showed how classy creeping figs can look when used in a formal garden design. The figs were trained to fill recesses in a masonry wall, so that they formed perfect green rectangular shapes. The fig rectangles provided a wonderful backdrop for clipped box hedges and topiarised trees planted nearby.

Plant details

Common name: Creeping fig 

Botanic name: Ficus pumila

Description:

A vigorous, climbing fig that attaches itself to surfaces by means of aerial roots. It has crinkly, heart-shaped juvenile leaves on a tracery of fine stems which adhere closely to its support. When the plant matures it starts to produce large, leathery adult foliage on horizontal, woody branches. Mature plants also produce yellowish-green, inedible figs.

Best climate:

All areas of Australia except for Hobart, the mountains and inland zones (creeping fig is an environmental weed in NSW).

Good points:

attractive juvenile foliage
fast growing
shade tolerant
tough
low maintenance

Uses:

quick cover for ugly, masonry walls
good ground cover for large areas
good for softening industrial landscapes
useful for creating quick ‘topiary’

Downside:

very aggressive grower once established
very high maintenance if grown on buildings – will dislodge roof tiles, damage wooden structures and attempt to cover everything in a curtain of green

Care:

Creeping fig is very hardy and drought tolerant once established. Prune to control rampant growth and to remove horizontal branches which stand out from the support and produce unattractive adult foliage.

Getting started

Creeping fig is readily available at nurseries, but it is very easy to propagate by cuttings or layers (it forms roots wherever a branch touches the ground).

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