Although by its name we can imagine a tree-like plant with large leaves, Ficus pumila is a plant with very small leaves, fragile stems and a climbing plant that has nothing to do with its older brothers.
ORIGIN AND CHARACTERISTICS OF FICUS PUMILA
Native to East Asia, in the wild it is an understory plant that grows covering the ground and climbing over rocks and tree trunks.
It is a perfect plant to cover walls, as we would do with ivy, or dividing fences, especially if they are oriented to the north, it is also highly appreciated as a ground cover plant in gardens or in compositions with other plants. As an ornamental plant both indoors and outdoors, it looks beautiful in hanging pots.
Belonging to the Moraceae family , Ficus pumila is commonly known as creeping ficus or climbing ficus and is a fairly rustic evergreen plant.
The two best known varieties are the green leaf, the most common, with heart-shaped leaves and an intense green color when young that darkens as they mature. The other variety also has heart-shaped leaves but their edges are more irregular and tinged with white.
Its stems are flexible and fast growing, they adhere to almost any type of surface by means of a kind of tiny hooks whose final part is shaped like a suction cup. As soon as they begin to grow vertically, they create dense and heavy foliage capable of covering large areas. Its flowers are whitish and very small, barely noticeable and without ornamental value.
CULTIVATION AND CARE OF FICUS PUMILA
Contrary to what it may seem due to its tropical origin, this plant, when acclimatized, is capable of withstanding temperatures down to -5 ° C, although it will always develop more easily in areas where the temperature ranges between 16 ° C and 21 ° C and always in a humid environment. He appreciates being in full sun or in semi-shady areas.
Its maintenance is not too complicated once the plant has taken root, and it performs especially well as an ornamental indoor plant in hanging pots, being very decorative. However, we will take into account some indications depending on whether we are going to have it indoors or out.
SOIL AND SUBSTRATE
Outdoors it is not too demanding regarding the type of soil, as long as it is somewhat fertile and has good drainage , waterlogging could damage its roots as in most plants.
Indoors we will choose a light substrate, to be able to be mixed with perlite so that it maintains humidity and has good drainage .
Outdoors it is convenient to water it regularly during its growing season and in the hottest months, preventing the soil from drying out completely. During the winter it will be enough to water it approximately every ten days. If the environment is too dry, it will be convenient to spray the leaves with warm water to provide the environmental humidity it needs.
Indoors, as we do with outdoor plants, during spring and summer we must water regularly , ensuring that the substrate is always kept moist. In autumn and winter we will reduce them, providing the moisture it needs through sprays .
Both outdoors and indoors, during the plant’s growth season (spring / summer), we must provide the necessary nutrients for its optimal development. We can do it by means of a liquid fertilizer mixed with the irrigation water once a month in the case of indoor plants and adding organic fertilizer (guano, manure?) Or granules to the plants that grow outdoors.
- Stronger green plants: Fertilizer with mineral nutrients and extra potassium and iron for indoor green plants, balcony or terrace, Practical dispenser
- Healthy growth: supply of essential nutrients from the first use, promotes root growth and optimizes plant resistance
- Easy to use: Clean and safe dosage according to stages I to III marked on the cap (for 1-3 liters of water), Cap filled for 5 liters of water, Application 1 x week (March to October), Application 1 x month (November to February)
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- Contents: 1 x COMPO Fertilizers for green plants, Liquid fertilizer, 500 ml
Outdoors, especially when we use this plant as a vine on dividing fences or wall covers , it will be convenient, during its young stage, to prune the tips to stimulate their growth, once the plant is rooted it will have to be sanitized by cutting the oldest branches or the that protrude too much, thus we will avoid that it ends up sagging due to the weight, since it usually grows a lot in volume. It is also advisable to prune more deeply every two years .
Indoors you can prune whenever you want or if it seems that the plant has too long branches, although the best time is spring. We can cut up to a third of its length without damaging it.
The Ficus pumila, grown in a pot indoors, requires a transplant every two years or so since its roots end up filling the pot and they need a larger one to be able to continue developing. The ideal time to transplant is in spring .
If we have some small plants and we want to plant them outside to cover a wall, the first step to follow will be to transplant them into a large container until the plants take root. Once developed, we can plant them in their final location by placing a vertical guide in the first stage of growth.
FICUS PUMILA MULTIPLICATION
To get new plants from others, we have two ways to get it:
We will choose a young and flexible stem that is close to the ground and we will bend it slightly, without cutting it from the original plant and we will introduce it either directly into the ground or in a pot that we will place with substrate next to the mother plant using a fine wire. so that it does not move. After about three months the new plant will have rooted and we can cut it to transplant to a new location.
It is the easiest way to obtain a new plant from another. For this we will have to select a young and healthy branch of about 20 centimeters. We will cut the leaves from the lower half without damaging the buds and we will leave the leaves that are in the upper part to do their job. We will plant the stem in a pot with a light substrate or preferably mixed with perlite to facilitate good drainage and we will keep it and water frequently to maintain humidity. After a while the stem will have rooted and the new plant will begin to develop.
Cover photo: Andres Bertens