By: Raffaele Di Lallo, Author and founder of Ohio Tropics houseplant care blog
Fatsiajaponica, like the species name suggests, is native to Japan and alsoKorea. It is an evergreen shrub and is a pretty tough and forgiving plant inoutdoor gardens, but it is also possible to grow fatsia indoors. Your pottedfatsia inside may not get flowers, but you will still be able to enjoy theexotic foliage given proper indoor culture.
Growing Fatsia as a Houseplant
In nature, these plants grow in shaded to partially shadedareas. It is important that you don’t give your fatsia too much direct sun. Inmost locations indoors, an eastern exposure window would work very well forthese plants. This is not a plant to place in the sunniest window that you have;otherwise, the foliage will burn.
This is one plant that isn’t too picky about the type ofsoil that it grows in. Regardless, be sure to provide this plant with goodmoisture levels. Never let this plant completely dry out. At the same time, youdon’t want this plant to sit in water either. You may want to reduce watering abit in the winter as growth slows down or comes to a halt.
Fertilize regularly with an all-purpose fertilizerthroughout the growing season. Reduce to eliminate fertilizer during the wintermonths depending on if the plant has slowed down growth or completely stopped.Resume again in the spring when new growth starts again.
These plants grow best if you can provide warmer conditionsthroughout the growing season, but cooler (not cold) conditions 50-60 F. (10-15C.) during the wintertime. Be careful not to place this plant in any areaindoors that has cold drafts. If you live in a cold climate, don’t place thisplant near any doors where they might receive drafts.
These plants can get quite tall, so don’t be afraid to cutyour plant back. You can do this at the time of repotting, or anytime that theplant is getting too big for your liking. By cutting your plant back, you canpropagate the tip cuttings, but at the same time, your original plant willrespond by becoming bushier.
If you can follow all these things, you will certainly havesuccess growing fatsia in a container indoors.
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There comes a time when a chap needs a change from the topiary balls of box and pyramids of yew when it comes to winter form and structure in the garden.
Don’t get me wrong – my own patch is filled with these evergreen delights, so much so that I keep waiting for a visitor to ask if we are living in Trumpton. But as well as these formal evergreens, something that is architectural but just a tad more relaxed is a real advantage at this time of year.
Nothing is more striking in this respect than the false castor oil plant – Fatsia japonica. It looks wonderfully exotic and, as a native of Japan and South Korea, you would imagine that it would be a touch on the tender side. Well, in severe winters it may well be killed back a little – especially if heavy snowfall weighs down its branches – but it always seems to bounce back, and not just in milder counties.
My parents were given one as a wedding present in 1947. They were married in the Yorkshire Dales, and at the beginning of the millennium, when my mother finally moved out of the old family home, it was still growing strong in the back garden.
Nothing is more striking than the false castor oil plant- Fatsia japonica
It makes a rounded bush, usually up to 6ft high, but sometimes as much as 10ft, and its leaves are striking and hand-shaped with a shiny, leathery texture. The flowers open up about now – which accounts for my mentioning it in November. They are creamy white, spherical, and carried in open-branched clusters at the tips of the stems.
Ideally it is best planted in spring, so that it can establish its roots before its first winter outdoors, but you can buy it now and grow it as a container plant – outdoors but sheltered from the worst of the weather – so that you can enjoy its flowers and its leaves as part of a winter pot group.
As far as growing conditions are concerned, the false castor oil plant is wonderfully accommodating. It is unfussy about soil – coping with light soils, heavy clay and chalk – and happiest in light shade, although it will still thrive where it is verging on the gloomy. And the great thing is that it will look good at any time of year.
If at any time it grows too large to fit comfortably into its allotted space, simply chop it back a bit in spring. It will come to no harm. Oh, and no one will see any possible resemblance to Trumpton.
Light and Temperature Needs
One reason that Japanese aralia is well-suited to indoor culture is that it is a shade-loving plant, even tolerating heavy shade. The low light conditions inside most homes, which cannot support the growth of many types of plants, work beautifully for Japanese aralia.
And if you keep your home a little on the cool side in winter, your Japanese aralia will love it. This plant likes relatively cool daytime temperatures that fall between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit and cooler nighttime temperatures that fall between 50 and 60 degrees F.
Fatsia makes itself at home indoors or outdoors in shade
The fatsia japonica is an indoor/outdoor plant with giant leaves. Here, it partners with aucuba for a topical-style garden that is cold hardy. MCCLATCHY-TRIBUNE PHOTO
The fatsia, also known as Japanese aralia, is one of the most loved shade garden plants in the South. Large palmate leaves similar to a philodendron make the fatsia at home in the tropical garden.
Outdoors, it is cold hardy to zone 8 and needs protection in zone 7, but has been known to withstand temperatures as low as 7 degrees. More northern zones relish the plant as an indoor tropical.
To grow the plants, they ideally need shade but will tolerate morning sun. Prepare the soil by incorporating 3 to 4 inches of organic matter and 2 pounds of a 5-10-5 fertilizer per 100 square feet of planting area, tilling deeply. This is a plant you don’t want sitting in soggy winter conditions.
Dig the planting hole two to three times as wide as the root ball but no deeper, planting at the same depth it is growing in the container. A wider hole helps with quick root expansion and adaptability to your garden.
Moisture is critical the first year, so water deeply when required. Feed four weeks after transplanting with a slow-released fertilizer, such as an 8-8-8 at 1 pound per 100 square feet of bed space. Feed established plantings in March. Annual light pruning will keep the plant shapely, so remove old stalks in favor of young shoots.
To enjoy as a fine indoor houseplant, place the fatsia in a bright, filtered light location. Your container should be fairly large to allow the plant to reach a stage of elegance. Don’t skimp on potting soil. Choose one that is light and airy yet has good moisture-holding capacity. A heavy soil will make your life miserable when it comes to moving the plant and judging its dryness.
The fatsia’s big leaves use quite a bit of water for an indoor plant, so get accustomed to knowing when water is needed. As you develop a relationship with the plant, you will see that it does not hurt it to see a little wilt.
In the landscape, the fatsia is one of the best shrubs to give a tropical feeling. Its giant leaves were made for the pool, water garden or large atrium, and you can grow them as understory plants to banana trees. Partner them with aucuba and holly fern for a topical-style garden that is cold hardy.
Fatsias are mostly sold as generic, but named varieties include Aurea, which has golden variegation Variegata, with white variegation and the compact Moseri. A close relative called the fatshedera gives much the same look on a vine with smaller leaves. The fatshedera is actually a cross between the fatsia and ivy.
Think about planting fatsia this spring at your home.
How to Grow Fatsia Japonica (Japanese Aralia) From Seed
One of the underrated houseplants out there, the Fatsia Japonica(or Japanese Aralia) is a beautiful, lush plant that also happens to be very easy to grow and take care of! You may not have as much luck finding an adult Fatsia plant, but don’t fret, luckily the seeds for these lovely plants are easily found right here :)
A little background on this tropical plant variety:
Fatsia are native to Japan, Korea and Taiwan and can grow up to 16ft when grown outdoors with their big, lush leaves spanning up to a foot in length! Indoors, if given the right conditions, you can expect this plant to get up to 6ft tall and wide.
Japanese Aralia are hardy plants and can be used as a shrub in a shady spot outdoors in warmer climates or as a houseplant indoors. You can propagate Fatsia, as long as you use rooting hormone and keep the cutting’s warm and moist. However if you can’t find an adult plant or have access to a cutting, growing from seed is a great and cost-effective option! Being a fast-growing plant, it won’t take as long as you may think to grow a seedling into a nicely sized adult plant to contribute to your indoor jungle )
How to grow Fatsia Japonica plants from seed:
Growing Fatsia from seed is much like growing any other houseplant varieties from seed. You need to provide ample light, moisture and warmth.
Plant the seeds evenly in moist well-draining potting mix. To help maintain humidity and warmth, wrap the container in plastic wrap or cover it with a plastic lid. You’ll want to keep the seeds at about 80F to get them to germinate, so use a heat mat if necessary. Place the container in a brightly lit spot away from direct sunlight and monitor the setup to make sure the soil doesn’t dry out.
In those conditions, the seeds should germinate for you in as quickly as 2 weeks, but give them a full month to completely sprout. Once the seeds have sprouted you can remove the plastic covering, but make sure the seedlings are still kept warm until they start getting a few adult leaves going after which you can move them to a cooler location.
Now that your seedlings are growing into adult plants, here are some guidelines for keeping your Fatsia Japonica happy:
How to care for the Japanese Aralia plant: