How to Divide a Ficus Pumilaby Melissa J. Bell, studioD
Ever marveled at the dense mat of variegated heart-shaped leaves covering your garden wall or fence? You might have a creeping fig (Ficus pumila) growing in your yard. This woody evergreen vine climbs vertical walls with ease due to a sticky, adhesive substance secreted from its adventitious roots and root hairs. Native to eastern Asia and sometimes considered invasive, the creeping fig spreads quickly in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 to 11, and in homes or terrariums. In addition to its vigorous spread, this vine produces root suckers, or offshoot plants, which makes propagation by division a snap.
Locate suckers, or new young shoots, growing from the base of the plant in the fall. If no suckers are visible, division of young root sections is also an option.
Loosen the soil with a garden shovel to expose the roots of the plant, either just around the sucker or around one section of the root system if no suckers have grown.
Divide the suckers and their roots from the main root system, or take finger-thick small root sections, with a sharp knife.
Replace the soil over the exposed roots of the parent plant.
Prune the sucker shoots to half their original length. Trim any separate root sections down to 2 to 4 inch long pieces. Make an angled cut at the lower end of each root piece. To prevent the spread of disease, dip the knife blade in a 70 percent alcohol solution between cuts.
Replant suckers and root pieces outdoors in the garden, or in garden pots filled with equal amounts of peat and perlite. Make sure that the angled end of each root piece faces downward.
Transplant potted creeping figs into the garden only after a year of growth.
Items you will need
- Garden shovel
- Sharp knife
- 70 percent alcohol solution
- Garden pot (optional)
- Peat (optional)
- Perlite (optional)
- Ficus pumila is also propagated through stem cuttings and layering.
- Never remove more than one third of the parent plant's root system.
- Floridata: Ficus Pumila
- California Master Gardener Handbook; Dennis R. Pittenger
- Royal Horticultural Society: Propagating Using Suckers
- Royal Horticultural Society: Root Cuttings
- The Complete Guide to Keeping Your Houseplants Alive and Thriving; Sandy Baker
- Backyard Gardener: Sanitizing Pruning Tools