How To Care For Ming Aralia Plants

Polyscias fruticosa (pol-ISS-ee-us frew-tih-KOH-suh) better known as the Ming Aralia is an evergreen shrub from the family Araliaceae (Aralia plant). 

Ming Aralia is a highly decorative, elegant foliage plant for the home. Its slow, compact growth makes it a plant you can enjoy for many years.

Polyscias ming aralia

The perennial plant is native to India and is widely distributed in the Pacific islands such as Polynesia and many South Asian countries.

This polyscias plant has fernlike, feathery foliage with droopy narrow branches. 

These erect, slender branches grow up to become a multi-layered plant. 

The tropical plant is also grown as a bonsai and symbolizes peace, harmony, and balance. 

Apart from ming aralia, polyscias fruticosa is also known by the common name – Chinese Aralia.  

Ming Aralia Plant Care

Size and Growth

MIng aralia is an unusual looking small tree or specimen shrub. The leaves have cut, saw-toothed margins giving a feathery, lacy fern-like looking appearance.

Ming aralias reach heights of up to 6’ – 8’ feet tall. The leaves have a tendency to droop.

The ming aralia grows well as a houseplant and has a natural style that suits it for use as an indoor bonsai subject. Pruning helps develop an open growth and branching pattern.

In temperate regions, the ming prefers growing indoors. It looks best as a multi-trunked specimen.

Flowering and Fragrance

The plant flowers in summer, but rarely outside of the tropics. 

The plant has no prominent fragrance.

Light and Temperature

Ming aralia prefers bright indirect light when grown indoors. Outdoors mings will grow in full sun.

Bright light will make your Ming more attractive and compact.

Although it will tolerate low light, plants can become pale and “leggy” under such conditions.

Even though the plant prefers indirect light, it can grow in direct sun as well, as long as the sun rays are soft and warm. 

Ming aralias typically require warm temperatures but tolerate nighttime temperatures around 60° degrees Fahrenheit. Daytime temperatures should be 5° – 15° higher. 

If exposed to cold or chilly drafts, the plant may shed its foliage. 

If the air is too hot and dry (winter) Ming Aralia can suffer indoors. Without adequate humidity, ming plants are particularly vulnerable to spider mites attacks and other insect pests.

Regular misting throughout the year will keep the humidity high. Keeping your plant close to other house plants will also help to create a more humid microclimate for all of them.

NOTE On Misting: When misting plants use distilled or purified water. Otherwise, white calcium deposits may build up on the leaves. Also, remember to use ONLY room-temperature water – never cold water – on the tropical ming plant.

Ming aralia prefers high humidity levels indoors. However, it has the ability to tolerate normal humidity levels typical of a home.  

Watering and Feeding

Humidity is crucial for the ideal growth of ming aralia. Mist the plant in the morning to keep humidity high.

Do not allow the potting soil to dry out and make sure to water the plant thoroughly during the growing season. Cut back the amount of watering in autumn and winter. 

When it comes to feeding, apply a well-balanced liquid fertilizer at half strength, once per month during the spring-summer growing season. 

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Soil and Transplanting

Ming aralia prefers rich, loose potting medium for good root development. A regular houseplant potting soil is fine.

This low-maintenance plant does not need repotting often. The plant likes to be pot-bound. Ideally, repot the plant yearly or every other year. 

However, when the houseplant becomes mature and reaches 6’ feet tall, repot less frequently.

Tall, mature plants can get top-heavy. Pick a steady and heavy cache pot container to display the plant.

Aralias are also good candidates for growing in self-watering containers.

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Grooming and Maintenance

  • When growing indoors always protect the plant from the full sun. 
  • Lightly prune Chinese aralia every year or so to encourage new growth. 
  • Lightly mist the plant every morning to hydrate the plant. 
  • Increase watering during the growing season. 

How To Propagate Polyscias Fruticosa

The propagation of ming aralia is best carried out with tip or stem cuttings. 

Tip cuttings root easily when using a rooting hormone and given warm (75° degrees Fahrenheit), humid conditions.

Take cuttings in late spring. Short, semi-soft cuttings root best.

Cut off 6” inch long stems and provide soil rooting temperatures from 75° degrees Fahrenheit (20° – 23° C).

When rooting, avoid overwatering or heavy misting the plant. 

Once the root system develops, begin to fertilize and do not overpot. 

Polyscias Fruticosa Pests and Diseases

Polyscias fruticosa needs protection against pesky creatures such as:

  • Aphids on new growth
  • Mealybugs in leaf axils
  • Scale Insects
  • Spider mites in dry indoor environments
  • Nematodes, and whiteflies

These insects usually attack the plant when the climatic conditions are dry. 

Spider mites can be a major problem on ming plants growing in dry locations with low humidity.

Since spider mites can rapidly multiply on the undersides of the leaves, many people notice them when it is often too late.

Prevent spider mite attacks by increasing humidity and through regular misting. Keep plants away from other mite-susceptible house plants.

Mealybugs and scale insects usually “hide” at leaf axils, along stems and in the foliage.

Check plants for pests regularly, and remove by hand with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol. Try to avoid using chemicals (especially indoors) as they can be damaging to Ming Aralias.

A common disease the plant may suffer from due to overwatering is root rot.    

Ming Aralia Uses

The easy-care plant has plenty of uses and makes for a great indoor plant.

Young Ming Aralia plants make excellent choices for use in terrariums and dish gardens. They hold center stage as elegant centerpieces.

Open or closed terrariums satisfy the plant’s humidity needs.

Readers Questions

QUESTION: I have a Ming Aralia In a south window where it gets filtered sun in the afternoon. I water it often as it gets quite dry. New leaves keep coming out, but the older leaves continue to drop off In bunches. WM., Virginia

ANSWER: Ming (Polyscias fruticosa) prefers an average to warm temperatures minimum of 62°-65° degrees Fahrenheit at nighttime. It also requires bright indirect light (particularly during winter), a humid atmosphere, and a uniformly moist, not wet, soil. It needs fresh air and good houseplant soil. If your plant appears healthy, I wouldn’t worry since Polyscias have a natural tendency to shed older leaves becoming leggy or stalky (a desirable artful form).

QUESTION: I would also like to have cultural information including propagation and if ming aralia should be pruned. MA, Virginia.

ANSWER: Polyscias fruiticosa growing indoors prefers a room with a minimum nighttime temperature of 62°-65° degrees Fahrenheit. It needs a well-lighted (bright) location such as a bright window with a sheer curtain and no direct sun.

A north facing window with blinds, curtains, or drapes is adequate unless that window is shaded by a nearby tree. Never keep the plant wet, just barely moist to the touch. Usually propagated by rooting stem cuttings. Pruning may be very nominal such as removing any side shoots that spoil the canopy-trunk appearance. If you remove side shoots, root them in half sharp sand, half peat moss or humus.

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