Creeping fig growth rate

How do I eliminate invasive creeping fig?

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Don’t turn your back on this creeping fig

Q: I am thinking about covering my privacy wall with creeping fig. It is just a blank block wall, and I would like to cover it with green. Is this a good idea?

Q: I am thinking about covering my privacy wall with creeping fig. It is just a blank block wall, and I would like to cover it with green. Is this a good idea?
A: I have seen walls covered with the creeping fig (Ficus pumila), and it does give a lovely ivy-covered wall affect. This vigorous vine will completely coat your wall with small evergreen leaves within two or three years. A native to Asia, it has adapted well to all parts of Florida. If we have a very strong freeze, the leaves will die off, but if the vine is established, the plant just re-foliates and continues to cover most vertical surfaces. As the plant matures, the leaves can change in size going from a small leaf of about 1 inch long to a wide leaf of about 3 inches long. Mature vines also may produce an inedible green fig-like fruit that is about the size of an egg.
This fig relative climbs with strong aerial roots that adhere to surfaces made of stone, brick, block or wood. If you were to remove it from the wall, you find that the roots will pull off paint and that they may have entered into the mortar of the wall. Because of this, it is really hard for me to recommend that you put creeping fig on any residential structure. Using it on a privacy wall is fine, but if you share this wall with a neighbor, you may want to see if it is OK with them as well.
I wouldn’t turn my back on this vigorous vine for a minute for fear that it might eat my potting shed or my poodle. You will need to plan on regular maintenance with clippers or a weed eater to keep the nice ivy-covered wall look.
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Q: My peaches and Japanese magnolias think it’s spring; they are blooming to beat the band. I know we are going to get another freeze. What should I do?
A: Unless you have a direct line to Mother Nature, there really isn’t much we can do. The plants are confused by the mild temperatures that we have had and are blooming a few weeks ahead of time. This really isn’t all that uncommon for North Central Florida. If we do get a freeze when the flowers are still in bud form, they can be quite frost tolerant. Peaches, plums, saucer magnolias, azaleas and even camellia flower buds go through near freezing without too much damage to the flowers. If they are all the way open though, then there really isn’t anything you can do beyond covering the plant with frost cloth. In some cases this is not practical, like when your tree is 20 feet tall. Often times, all the blooms are not destroyed, and you will still have some flowers. Or in the case of fruit trees, they will bloom again, albeit a significantly lighter flower load and therefore less fruit in the warmer part of the spring.
Wendy Wilber is an extension agent with UF/IFAS. Email her at [email protected]

Q: We planted creeping fig along our back fence in May and it’s done absolutely nothing all summer – it looks exactly the same as the day we planted it. I thought it was a fairly quick-growing plant, no? Should we give up on it?
— Erin Newman, Simi Valley

A: Of creeping fig and similarly aggressive ground covers and vines, it has been said: “The first year it sleeps, the second year it creeps, the third year it leaps.” You have no reason to doubt that your creeping fig (Ficus pumila) will eventually perform as advertised. In fact, it may do so all too well.

I must confess to holding a grudge against creeping fig, having had to maintain it in certain impossible situations, such as when it has to be constantly trimmed to keep it from covering windows or when it grows into cracks and crevices in walls, causing all sorts of damage. Creeping fig adheres to paint and stucco so it is a given that, sooner than later, your creeping fig fences and walls will need resurfacing.

The best use of creeping fig is to cover and soften plain, cinder block or concrete walls. Plant at the base of partially shaded walls. Some gardeners, while planting, bend their creeping fig plants so that they are prostrate upon the ground, since roots will grow wherever stems touch the earth and, in this way, plants will establish more quickly.

Actually, creeping fig is delicate when it is planted and needs regular moisture to stay hydrated. Eventually, though, once roots are established, it is water thrifty.

Creeping fig roots can be highly invasive, cracking and lifting up patios and foundations. Root diameter can reach 4 inches and creeping fig will eventually cover shaded, adjoining lawn.

Provided with a root barrier, it actually makes an exotic lawn alternative for shady areas where grass won’t grow. Creeping fig is also a favorite plant for topiary as it obediently grows over wire-framed shapes of all kinds. Although native to tropical East Asia, it survives temperatures down to 20 degrees or colder.

As long as it remains in a juvenile state, creeping fig shows off small, oval to heart-shaped foliage. If planted against a wall, all growth will initially be vertical. However, when creeping fig matures from juvenile to adult after several years of growth, it sends out horizontal branches. Upon these branches, dainty, clinging leaves give way to considerably larger, floppy adult leaves, which are accompanied by plum-sized fruit. Although this fruit resembles edible figs, it is not fit for consumption, even while its juice is made into jelly in Taiwan and Singapore. A vining hybrid between creeping fig and conventional tree fig, however, has yielded a vine with comestible fruit. To prevent creeping fig from transitioning to its adult stage, snip off all horizontal growth.

While the transition of creeping fig from juvenile to adult is marked by a change from vertical to horizontal growth, the opposite process is at work with ivy, the most widely planted ground cover. When ivy is in its juvenile stage, it wants to grow horizontally, even while it will veer skyward when given vertical support. Upon reaching adulthood, however, ivy stems shoot straight up, creating shrubs and even small trees where once there was a flat expanse of ground cover. Adult ivy foliage loses its sharp edges and triangularity as leaves become ovate and there is proliferation of chartreuse flower spindles.

Creeping fig and ivy share at least one regrettable trait: They love to clamber up tree trunks.

On a number of occasions, I have seen ivy suffocate and kill a tree. This usually happens in a side yard or toward the rear of a property where a small ornamental tree, such as a flowering pear, is neglected and, after a few years, completely engulfed by ivy.

Rare palms sighted

Two palm trees that are not often seen are worth consideration in select microclimates where topography is sloping and humidity is higher than what you would expect in our area. The trees in question are fishtail palm, with fronds composed of fishtail shaped leaflets (Caryota mitis), and triangle palm (Dypsis decaryi), named for their three-sided trunks. I noticed these palms growing on Beverly Glen Boulevard and on Roscomare Road, transitional zones between the Valley and West Los Angeles, just south of Mulholland Drive. It is worth noting that these byways are protected on both sides by hilly terrain, so warmth on cold nights and humidity on hot days is somewhat conserved.

Tip of the week

Epidendrum orchids are among the longest blooming plants. They do well in nearly any type of soil but prefer it to be fast draining. They respond well to fertilizer and seem to be in flower, to one degree or another, in every season. They thrive in container confinement, whether perched on fence pedestals or displayed on patios or balconies. There are more than 1,000 Epidendrum species and you will see them in pink, purple, red, yellow and orange. Reed stem Epidendrums, the tallest types, are favored for flower bed and container plantings. Another excellent container candidate that blooms at this time of year is montbretia (Crocosmia hybrid). This corm (similar to bulb) forming plant from South Africa flowers in yellow, orange or red. There are many types, ranging in size from 2 feet tall with slender leaves and delicate flowers to 5 feet tall with strappy foliage and highly ostentatious floral displays. Montbretia is cold hardy, its corms withstanding freezes. Both Epidendrum and montbretia are clumping plants that may be divided and spread throughout the garden.

Joshua Siskin’s column appears every Saturday in this section. He welcomes questions from readers and will answer them in his column. If you have a question, please send email to [email protected] Include your full name and the city you live in.

Creeping Fig Plant – Tips For Creeping Fig Care

Creeping fig vine, also known as fig ivy, creeping ficus and climbing fig, is a popular ground and wall cover in warmer parts of the country and a lovely houseplant in cooler areas. Creeping fig plant (Ficus pumila) makes a wonderful addition to the home and the garden.

Creeping Fig as a Houseplant

Creeping fig vine is often sold as a houseplant. The small leaves and lush green growth make for both a lovely table plant or a hanging plant.

When growing creeping fig as a houseplant, it will need bright, indirect light.

For proper indoor creeping fig care, the soil should be kept moist but not overly wet. It is best to check the top of the soil before watering. If the top of the soil is dry, it needs to be watered. You will want to fertilize your creeping fig in the spring and summer about once a month. Do not fertilize it in the fall and winter. In the winter, you may need to provide extra humidity to your creeping fig plant.

For extra interest, you can add a pole, a wall or even a topiary form to your creeping fig houseplant container. This will give the creeping fig vine something to climb and eventually cover.

Creeping Fig Vine in the Garden

If you live in USDA plant hardiness zone 8 or higher, creeping fig plants can be grown outside year round. They are often used as either a ground cover or, more commonly, as a wall and fence cover. If allowed to grow up a wall, it can grow up to 20 feet tall.

When grown outdoors, creeping fig like full or part shade and grows best in well-draining soil. In order to look its best, creeping fig should get about 2 inches of water a week. If you do not this much rainfall in a week, you will need to supplement with the hose.

Creeping fig is easily propagated from plant divisions.

As creeping fig vine gets older, it can get woody and the leaves will get older. To bring the plant back to the finer leaves and vines, you can heavily prune back the more mature parts of the plant and they will regrow with the more desirable leaves.

Be aware before planting a creeping fig plant that once it attaches itself to a wall, it can be extremely difficult to remove and doing so can damage the surface that the creeping fig attaches to.

Creeping fig care is easy, whether you are growing it indoors or outdoors. Growing creeping fig can bring beauty and a lush backdrop to its surroundings.

Creeping Fig

No matter which creeping fig variety you grow, the right care is important to keep it looking lush, happy, and healthy. It grows best in a spot with medium to bright light — enough light that it casts a shadow much of the day. Both natural and artificial light are fine. Creeping fig doesn’t mind the light source, as long as it gets enough.
Water creeping fig as the top inch or so of the potting mix dries to the touch. As a houseplant, it doesn’t tolerate drying out as well as other figs (including fiddle leaf fig). When it gets too dry, creeping fig will drop its leaves prematurely.
Hailing from warm, tropical climates, creeping fig appreciates average to above-average relative humidity levels. If the air is too dry, its leaves can go brown and crispy around the edges.
Avoid growing creeping fig in drafty areas, too. If it’s exposed to airflow that’s considerably warmer or cooler than the ambient air, the leaves could go yellow or brown and drop off. This includes drafts that may come in from exterior doors or windows, as well as the air from heating or cooling vents.
You typically don’t need to worry about pruning creeping fig, but you can prune or pinch it back at any time of the year without worrying about harming your plant.
Fertilize for faster growth. You can use a water-soluble fertilizer in spring and summer (don’t exceed recommendation instructions on the product packaging) or by using a time-release granular fertilizer once a year in spring. This type of product slowly releases nutrients to the plant every day for months. Use a fertilizer formulated for use on indoor plants.
Creeping fig is somewhat tolerant of being rootbound, but it grows best when it’s repotted as the roots fill the pot.
Get tips for repotting!
Note: This houseplant is not intended for human or animal consumption. It does produce a milky sap that can cause skin irritation if you have sensitive skin.

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