The Q&A Archives: Planting Fig Ivy

Question: I recently purchased some fig ivy plants. I want to plant them in pots on my porch and train them to climb up to the balcony. Will this vine damage the wood on the house? How do you recommend I "train" them along the posts?

Answer: I assume you are referring to Ficus pumila, commonly called fig ivy or creeping fig. It has small leaves about the size of a dime that are rough or sandpapery in texture.

This vine attaches to its support by rootlike structures that cling to the surface. These can result in damage to a wooden structure over time as they tend to hold moisture up against the wood, and thus promote decay. In your humid, rainy climate, this could be a problem. However, if the wood surface is treated or painted well, it should not pose any threat for quite some time.

Fig ivy is marginally hardy in your area and can be killed to the ground in an unusually cold winter. I would suspect that on an exposed wooden pillar they would be more likely to be cold damaged than up against a brick wall or siding for example.

If you grow these plants in a container, you will have to be very diligent to keep them well watered. As they develop a large area of leaf cover they will really take up a lot of moisture and can quickly become drought stressed.

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