Ways to Care for Your Weeping Fig

Last update: April 25, 2020

The weeping fig is one of the most beautiful members of the ficus family. It is also arguably the most temperamental. One small adjustment to its environment could startle the tree badly, to the point where it drops its leaves and starts growing new ones – this includes something as innocuous as turning the planter. However, with proper watering, lighting, and an acknowledgement of its sensitivity, these beauties can mature to a 10-foot tall natural statement in your home or office.

A Bold, Beautiful House Plant

If you’re looking to make a statement with a house plant, a weeping fig may be precisely what you’re looking for. Equipped with dark, glossy leaves and an ability to grow to 10 feet indoors, this imposing member of the ficus family is practically made to be a visual focal point for any room in your home.

Scientifically known as a Ficus Benjamina, this plant is also quite versatile from an aesthetic standpoint. Clever growers will occasionally braid the tree’s trunks, giving the tree a dramatic topiary look that can attract even more attention.

Video Presentation: The Ins and Outs of a Weeping Fig

The weeping fig can be a gorgeous plant to have in your home. Because they’re from the temperamental ficus family, it’s important that you know the basics about the tree from front to back. This video does a solid job of showing you the ropes regarding this magnificent diva.

https://youtu.be/VC3zdjX7oRA

Getting Started: What You Need to Know

There are a couple things you should know before you bring a weeping fig into your home. Firstly, don’t expect these plants to fully flourish quickly. While they grow at a steady pace, it will takes a few years for a small, young tree to reach its full size, so patience is a prerequisite.

The second thing you must know is that this plant tends to be a prima donna that’s notoriously fickle. This is not too surprising, since it is a member of the ficus family. However, it’s important to know about its temperament if you’re not used to dealing with ficuses, because its nature requires that you care for it with kid gloves.

The Importance of Placement

Arguably, the most important decision about growing a weeping fig happens before you bring it into your home. It’s imperative that you decide where your plant is going to reside, and then stick to this decision as firmly as possible.

The reason for this is directly linked to the weeping fig’s temperamental nature. The plant does not react well to being moved around, and will respond by dropping its leaves to make new ones. While the reason for this is born from confusion on the plant’s part as opposed to it being a straight-up diva, it’s a reaction that could lead to a bare, unappealing plant.

The optimal place to plant your plant would be in a spot that would allow the weeping fig plenty of room to grow, as it can reach 10 feet in a confined setting. You should also make sure it has bright yet indirect light, and should not be placed near an open window where drafts could occur.

Lighting and Temperature Needs

Like most plants, hitting your weeping fig with direct sunlight is a bad idea. However, it’s in your best interest to keep the indirect light that you shine on your plant to be as consistent as possible. Even if it’s a little on the low side, the weeping fig will acclimate to the condition – a whole lot better than it would acclimate to a sudden burst of brightness.

As far as temperature goes, as long as the room it’s in is above 59 degrees Fahrenheit, it will have no problem growing. However, make sure that you don’t subject it to sudden gusts of cold or bursts of heat. This instant fluctuation will freak the tree out, and it will respond by dropping its leaves.

Watering the Weeping Fig

Although the weeping fig is overly sensitive in a lot of areas, it offers a surprising amount of leeway when it comes to watering. If you occasionally overwater or underwater the plant, it will forgive you as long as you don’t make it a recurring habit.

That said, you should make sure your weeping fig’s soil is consistently moist. If it’s dry, then it’s time to water. You can check to see if it’s dry by sticking your finger in the soil; if it comes out cleanly with no clinging dirt, grab you watering apparatus. Of course, you shouldn’t turn it into a muddy quagmire, either.

If you’re watering the weeping fig on a consistent basis, you won’t have to worry about humidity like you may with other plants. You could use tactics to increase or decrease the humidity if you find yourself dropping the ball on the amount of water you’re giving your plant, but it’s in your best interest to learn how to water properly.

What About Re-Planting?

If you get your weeping fig at a young age, you should count on re-potting the plant every year or so until it matures to the size you want. This can be a delicate process, given the fickle nature of the plant, but it is a maneuver that is necessary if you want a big, beautiful plant.

This should really be the only time you manipulate the weeping fig. Even so much as turning the base of the pot that it’s in can be enough to startle it, which could cause a rain of detached foliage to occur.

Its tendency to shed leaves at the drop of a hat may be the source of frustration at first. However, once you get the hang of dealing with its eccentricities, you’ll find that a weeping fig is one of the most beautiful plants you can introduce into your home. It may feel like an uphill battle, but it’s worth it in the end.

Photo by Brisbane City Council Licensed Under CC BY 2.0

Plant Care Guide for the Ficus Pumila (Creeping Fig)

Last update: April 1, 2021

The ficus pumila is a plant more commonly called creeping fig. It’s earned this latter moniker because it’s a climbing, vine-like plant whose suction-like properties enable it to cling to a wall and grow upward. Able to thrive in hardiness zones 8 and above, this plant does need some wire support to properly train it to climb in the manner you’d like. It can cover the average wall in about two to three years, depending on the fertility of the soil. While its juvenile leaves are bright green, mature leaves tend to be darker and protrude from vertical branches. Because of this, routine pruning is a must to keep the plant looking its vibrant best.

Cool Name, Cooler Plant

Ficus pumila is the name that science has given this wall-climbing member of the ficus family. However, its common name, creeping fig, is not only way cooler, it’s one of the coolest common monikers in the plant kingdom. It’s also one of the coolest plants you can grow at home.

The evergreen plant is marked by delicate, heart-shaped leaves that grow roughly two to four inches long. They can produce small fig fruits along the way, but they’re rarely visible and never edible. They’re planted in the ground and almost exclusively against a wall or flat surface, where its suction cup-like vines will quickly cling to and cover as it matures.

The creeping fig is an excellent choice for any gardener that has an eyesore of a wall, fence, or structure that’s in need of concealing. It conducts its coverage rather efficiently – if you’re tending to its needs, it will cover your average wall within two to three years. It’s also fun to watch it proliferate on the structure during this time.

The Creeping Fig in Action

It’s one thing to read about the properties of the ficus pumila, or the creeping fig. It’s another thing to see what it can bring to the table – or more accurately, the wall. This video does a good job of providing different creeping figs in action, as well as giving you a few practical cultivation tidbits.

Planting Your Creeping Fig

Creeping figs are a viable option year-round if you live in USDA plant hardiness zone 8 or above. Regardless of where you live, the most important component of owning a creeping fig is its planting phase. One false step here, and you won’t get the desired results.

Obviously, your first step in owning a creeping fig is to pick the edifice you want covered. If you’re choosing a solid surface like a wall, it needs to be crack-free and made of stone, brick, or concrete. The plant will cause rot to a wood surface, and will pry apart aluminum siding as it grows.

The wall in question should also be partially obstructed from direct sunlight. Like a lot of house plants, direct sunlight will cause leaf scorching, which will turn the leaves of your plant yellow.

When you get around to planting the creeping fig, make sure you also plant wire support to “train” the vines and guide them up the wall. It’s usually a good idea to reinforce the wiring further up the wall to give the plant strengthened support.

Caring for your Creeping Fig

In terms of normal plant maintenance, tending to the creeping fig’s needs is relatively easy. They aren’t fickle like a typical ficus, partially because their environment is going to be consistently stable for the duration of its life. Chances are, you’re not going to move this plant from one wall to another.

With that being said, if you actually do remove it from a wall, be prepared for a challenge. The creeping fig’s clinging, suction cup-like properties make it extremely difficult to remove from the wall, to the point where you will have to deal with residual straggling vines that refuse to budge. You may also have to cope with surface damage.

The prime mover behind creeping fig maintenance revolves around keeping the plant under control. Even though it takes a couple years to cover the average wall, it can still be an unruly plant if left unchecked. Therefore, pruning is an essential component to keeping it look nice.

In fact, part of the need for pruning comes from the aesthetic nature of the plant itself. While a creeping fig’s juvenile leaves are bright green, they turn dark and dull as they mature. These leaves usually correspond with vines that decide to jut out horizontally.

If you want to keep your creeping fig looking its best – not to mention acting in the way you want it to – you need to trim prune the wayward branches and their dark, mature leaves. If your plant is covering a tall wall, don’t ignore the overhanging vines because they’re out of reach. Break out a ladder and take care of business.

If you’re worried about your creeping fig becoming too unruly, the soil it’s planted in can be your strongest ally. The more fertile the soil, the quicker this plant will grow. As such, if the soil the vines are planted in is dry and less fertile, they won’t grow as rapidly.

Creeping Fig and Propagation

The creeping fig plant can propagate easily and rapidly. All it takes is a cutting left in a soil for it to root and start doing its thing.

This could be good news for you if you plan to cover more than one wall on your property. However, if could potentially create havoc if your sloppy with your pruning technique. If you don’t want your plant to become extra wild, be sure that you clean your pruning area thoroughly.

If you trim your creeping fig on a consistent basis, you will have a bright, vibrant piece of living art to show off to your guests whenever they venture into your back yard. No matter how tall and wide it gets, it will certainly look a whole lot better than whatever edifice it’s covering.

Photo by Forest & Kim Starr Licensed Under CC BY 3.0

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