Don't cut back on your social engagements to make time to care for your creeping fig (Ficus pumila). This is one tough plant, strong and aggressive -- it's such a good climber that it seems more akin to an octopus than a fig tree (Ficus spp.). The vine covers any surface, from a cement wall to a tree, with its bright, heart-shaped leaves. As enthusiastic as it is beautiful, creeping fig easily clamors 4 feet up a cement wall without the slightest support, thanks to its adhesive rootlets. It requires little TLC in your garden aside from pruning.

climbing fig wrapped around tree in the rain forest.
credit: Gumpanat/iStock/Getty Images
The leaves of creeping fig vines covering a wooden fence.

Step 1

Grow this fearless climber in almost any soil. It accepts loam clay, sand, clay, and anything from acidic to slightly alkaline. Choose dry, less fertile earth if you hope to keep the vine more docile.

Step 2

Water sufficiently to keep the soil moist during the first season. After that, you don't have to irrigate, even in drought conditions.

Step 3

Space creeping fig plants at least 18 to 24 inches apart. The evergreen leaves of this vine spread to an area 3 to 6 feet wide.

Step 4

Place creeping fig in almost any light, and it thrives. It grows in sun, partial sun and shade. It doesn't do as well in full, all-day sun, however. The growth rate drops and its deep-green leaves yellow.

Step 5

Say no to fertilizer for your creeping fig. The plant is sufficiently hale, hearty and aggressive to be declared an invasive pest in several states, and will have no trouble thriving in ordinary soil.

Step 6

Pass up the pesticide for the plant too. No bugs or diseases trouble this fig relative, although you may see occasional scale, aphids, mealybugs, thrips or spider mites. Catch them early by keeping an eye out, and blast them off the vine with spray from the hose.

Step 7

Prune back creeping fig planted as ground cover if and when it reaches a wall. If you don't, the plant goes up the wall, and the stickers are very hard to remove. Always disinfect the pruners first. Wipe the blades with a clean rag soaked in denatured alcohol.