Growing Fatsia Japonica Plants: Caring For Japanese Aralia

Fatsia Japonica, also known as Japanese Fatsia, is a flowering plant species belonging to the Araliaceae family (Aralia plant) and is native to Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea.

Fatsi, one of the plant’s common names, comes from the Japanese word for eight and refers to the eight lobes of Japonica’s palmate leaves.

Palmate leaves of Fatsia Japonica - Japanese Aralia plantPin

You may hear this evergreen shrub called by its common names, including:

  • Paper Plant
  • Japanese Aralia plant
  • Fastsi
  • Glossy-Leaf Paper Plant
  • False Castor Oil Plant (more on the true Castor Oil Bean plant)

NOTE: Fatsia is one of the parents of the Fatshedera lizei plant. It is a cross between Fatsia and English ivy.

Fatsia Japonica Quick Care Tips

  • Botanical Name: Fatsia Japonica
  • Common Name(s): Japanese Aralia, Paper Plant, Fastsi, Glossy-Leaf Paper Plant, False Castor Oil Plant
  • Synonyms: Aralia Japonica, Fatsia Sieboldii
  • Pronunciation: FAT-see-uh, juh-PON-ih-kuh
  • Family & Origin: Araliaceae family, native to Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea
  • Growability: Easy to grow
  • Grow Zone: USDA zones 8-11
  • Size: Can grow up to 3-16 feet tall and 5-6 feet wide
  • Flowering: Produces small white flowers in late fall to early winter
  • Light: Prefers partial shade to full shade but can toelrate full sun
  • Humidity: Rrefers higher humidity levels but can tolerate low humidity
  • Temperature: 45° to 55° degrees Fahrenheit
  • Soil: Slightly acidic soil mix with organic matter
  • Water: Keep soil consistently moist but not waterlogged
  • Fertilizer: Fertilize regularly with a weak liquid fertilizer or tree and shrub fertilizer during spring and summer,
  • Pests & Diseases: Can be susceptible to aphids, spider mites, mealybugs, thrips, and scale insects. May also be prone to root rot if overwatered.
  • Propagation: Can be propagated through stem cuttings or seeds
  • Plant Uses: Can be used as a houseplant or as a landscape plant in shaded areas. It can also be used as a screen or hedge or as a medicinal plant.

Growing Conditions and Caring For Fatsia Japonica

Like other plants, good Japanese Aralia care is crucial in maintaining the plant’s overall well-being. Here are the areas you can look at.

Size and Growth

Japanese Aralia is an evergreen shrub growing up to 3’ to 10’ feet tall with a bushy growth habit.

It features sparsely branched, stout stems and large, spirally-arranged, deeply lobed leaves.

Moreover, Japanese Aralia’s exotic leaves are known to withstand some frost.

While the plant is also grown as an indoor plant, it is not likely to flower when grown in pots indoors.

However, this isn’t considered a big loss because the blooms of Fatsia aren’t showy and attractive.

Flowering and Fragrance

This tropical plant type produces thick compound umbels of small, white flower color, non-showy flowers in terminal umbels during the late autumn or early winter season, followed by black berries or black fruit.

For those who do not know, umbel is the term for an inflorescence comprised of multiple short flower stalks originating from one point.

The flowering season is followed by the production of small, green-colored fruits in spring which turns black when they get mature.

The best foliage grows in deep shade with protection from the hot sun.

Light and Temperature

Fatsia Japonica grows best in warm temperate climates in a partially sheltered site where it receives no more than a few hours of east-facing window exposure to the full sun.

While it can tolerate full shade, the plant leaves can bleach out if exposed to full and direct sunlight.

While it appreciates small spells of relatively cold and dry weather, the plant cannot tolerate very cold and dry climates.

Its ideal temperature ranges between 45° to 55° degrees Fahrenheit.

It grows well in United States hardiness zones 8 to 10 (USDA Zones).

Fatsia Japonica Care: Watering and Feeding

Maintaining adequate moisture during the growing season is critical for the proper growth habit of the Fatsia japonica plant.

So, water the small tree regularly when it is actively growing in summer; however, slightly reduce the watering during the late winter season.

Also, avoid waterlogging your plant, as it can cause root rot.

Using a pebble tray or humidifier is also recommended to provide the moisture these plants need. Misting the plant now and then will also help the plant.

Regularly feed the plant with a weak liquid fertilizer or tree and shrub fertilizer during spring and summer, but reduce it to about once or twice a month in winter months.

Soil and Transplanting

The Fatsia japonica plant isn’t very picky about soil conditions but performs best in a slightly acidic soil mix with organic matter.

However, it can also tolerate heavy-clay soils and light-sandy soils.

Although the plant prefers moisture, water-logged soil can cause damage to plant roots.

So, in addition to keeping the soil moist by regular watering, ensure it is well-draining.

Since Japanese Aralia can grow up to 10’ feet, it needs to be repotted to bigger pots about once a year.

While it is best to repot the plant to bigger pots as it grows, it can survive in the same pot for many years.

It also grows well in large containers placed on shady patios or under trees.

Grooming and Maintenance

One of the reasons why Fatsia is a popular choice for landscaping is because it is quite easy to grow and doesn’t require much maintenance.

All you have to do is regularly trim the plant at the beginning of the spring as it promotes bushiness, further increasing its aesthetic appeal.

Late spring is the best time for pruning. You can also cut the entire plant, also known as renewal pruning, in late winter before new growth begins.

How to Propagate Fatsia Japonica Plants

It’s important to understand how to propagate Fatsia Japonica to expand your collection or share it with others.

Fatsia Japonica propagation can be done through various methods, including propagating Fatsia Japonica through seeds and semi-ripe stem tip cuttings.

Here’s how to do fatsia propagation via seeds:

Collect the seeds from ripe berries and sow them onto the moist soil surface.

Since the seeds are light to germinate, do not sow them deep into the soil.

While propagation through seeds is simple, it takes longer, as seeds can take up to 40 days to germinate, so you must be patient.

By using Fatsia cuttings, new plants can grow and nurture much quickly.

Here’s how to propagate fatsia japonica from cuttings:

Cut about 4” – 6” inch long pieces from the tips of semi-ripe but firm stems.

Remove all the leaves from the cuttings except the uppermost clusters and treat them with rooting hormone.

According to experts, rooting powder helps fatsia japonica cuttings to root faster and form a strong root system.

Plant the cuttings about 2” inches deep into the pots.

Since aralia japonica prefers high humidity, it is suggested to cover the pots with plastic bags until the cuttings form roots.

Also, keep the soil consistently moist until roots are formed.

Fatsia Pest or Diseases

Watch for:

Mealybugs and scale insects are tiny sap-feeding insects that weaken plants and make them susceptible to sooty mold growth by excreting a sticky substance on their foliage.

Thrips, on the other hand, are the paper plant fatsia pests causing mottling on both flowers and foliage of the affected plant.

Look out for these pests and treat the Japanese paper plant with the least toxic insecticide/pesticide (neem oil spray) during the early stages of infestation to avoid severe damage.

Japonica ‘Variegata’ also gets affected by leaf spots.

The sticky and resinous sap of fatsia japonica can cause contact dermatitis, an allergic reaction causing inflammation of the skin, in people with sensitive skin.

Fatsia Japonica Uses

Fatsia is especially well suited to shade gardens where a dramatic, tropical look is desired. It’s also excellent for outdoor landscapes.

While the fatsia plant is mainly grown in gardens and parks due to its attractive foliage, it is also used as an herbal medicine in different parts of Japan and Taiwan for treating cough, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatism, tendinitis, and ankylosing spondylitis.

The japanese aurelia houseplant is also believed to help in improving blood circulation.

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