Useful as a groundcover or climbing vine, creeping fig (Ficus pumila) produces vining stems covered with heart-shaped, evergreen leaves. Its mat-like growth vigorously spreads over any surface, whether vertical or horizontal. Creeping fig thrives in full sunlight and a wide range of soil types, allowing it to spread into unwanted places if not kept in check by regular pruning. Although this vine grows outdoors only in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 through 11, it makes an excellent potted specimen in any zone. Creeping fig propagates readily by cutting with proper technique.
Mix one part peat moss and one part perlite in a bucket. Add water from a watering can slowly to the media while stirring it. Stop adding water once the mix becomes evenly moist but not soggy.
Fill a 4-inch pot to 1 inch below its top with the media. Tamp it down to remove any large air pockets. Add additional media if needed to maintain the proper level. Use a pot that contains holes in its bottom for drainage.
Select a stem of a mature creeping fig plant that appears healthy and blemish-free. Choose a stem with 4 to 6 inches of straight, current year growth for best results. Cut through the stem 1/4 inch above a set of leaves with a pair of pruning shears, 4 to 6 inches below its terminal end.
Re-cut the bottom of the stem, 1/4 inch below the bottom set of leaves. Pinch the leaves off the bottom one-half of the stem cutting, taking care to not damage or strip the main stem.
Poke a hole in the media in the pot's center with your forefinger, making it 2 inches deep. Insert the bottom 2 inches of the stem's cut end into the hole. Push the soil gently around the stem to secure it an upright position.
Fill the pot with water to re-moisten the media if needed. Mist the cutting lightly with water from a spray bottle.
Insert one end of a plastic straw or dowel into the medium on one side of the pot. Cover the pot with a clear plastic bag, pulling it down around the sides of the pot until its top rests on the top of the straw or dowel. Wrap a rubber band around the sides of the pot over the bag's edges to secure it in place.
Place a heating mat on a flat surface that receives bright indirect sunlight for at least 4 to 6 hours per day. Choose an area with a constant temperature of 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Turn the mat on, setting its temperature to this same temperature range. Place the pot on top of the heat mat.
Check the cutting every two to three days for signs of moisture loss. Remove the bag and water the pot once the top 1 inch of soil begins to dry. Do not allow the soil to become soggy. Mist the cutting lightly before replacing the bag.
Check the cutting for roots two to three weeks after planting. Remove the bag and tug the stem gently, feeling for resistance. If the cutting remains in place, then new roots have formed. Leave the bag off permanently once the stem sports roots. Remove the pot from the heat mat.
Water the rooted stem when the top 1 to 2 inches of soil becomes dry. Fertilize the stem once every 7 to 10 days with a 10-10-10 nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium water-soluble fertilizer. Mix the fertilizer at a rate of 1/2 teaspoon per 1 gallon of water. Fill the pot twice with the fertilizer solution. Apply the fertilizer in place of water.
Items you will need
- Peat moss
- Watering can
- 4-inch plastic pot
- Pruning shears
- Spray bottle
- Plastic straw or dowel
- Clear plastic bag
- Rubber band
- Heat mat
- 10-10-10 (n-p-k) water-soluble fertilizer
- Prepare one pot for each creeping fig plant you wish to start.
- Wrap the cut end of the stem in a moist paper towel and store it in a sealed plastic zipper bag in the refrigerator if you can't plant it immediately after cutting it from the plant.
- Transplant the creeping fig outdoors if desired, once it begins to produce new growth and white roots become visible on the sides of the root ball.
- Cuttings fare best when collected in the morning hours, as the stems contain the most moisture at this time.
- Creeping fig grows very vigorously and requires frequent pruning to prevent it from overtaking structures it grows on. Be aware of this fact when deciding upon a planting location for your new starts.
- Avoid growing creeping fig up objects, buildings, and support systems made of wood, as the plant secretes a substance that hurts this type of material.
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