Japanese Aralia Care: How To Grow Fatsia Japonica

The large, showy, tropical leaves may imply that Japanese aralia care is a challenge, but given the right environment, it’s a show-stopper and easy to grow.

Fatsia Japonica Plant
fatsia japonica
(Image credit: Arpon Pongkasetkam)

Japanese Aralia Care Made Simple: Grow Fatsia Japonica

Japanese aralia care is not difficult if planted in an appropriate site. As its name suggests, Japanese aralia comes from Japan where it grows in warm southern areas. It is loved for its large, shiny, deeply lobed and tropical appearance. It flowers in autumn and produces showy dark berries in winter.

Quick Japanese Aralia Facts

Botanical name: Fatsia japonica

Height: 6-10 feet (1.8-3 m)

Spread: 6-10 feet (1.8-3 m)

Sun exposure: Shade or dappled shade

Soil requirements: Well-drained, acidic soil

Hardiness zones: 7b - 10b

When to plant: Spring or fall

Care for Japanese Aralia

Light Conditions

Fatsia is a heat sensitive plant. For the best Japanese Aralia care, avoid direct sun and grow it in dappled or even full shade.

Temperature & Humidity

This shrub thrives in warmer regions, doing best in USDA hardiness zones 7b through 10. It does not need extra humidity to thrive, but indoor plants can benefit from an occasional spray.

Water & Fertilizer

Water Fatsia well the first year after planting. The shrub becomes drought tolerant once it becomes established. As far as fertilizer goes, use a slow-release fertilizer for shrubs, starting in spring after the last frost.

Soil & Compost

You will find that care for Fatsia Japonica is easiest if you plant the shrub in organically rich soil. The soil should drain well and be slightly acidic.

Where, When and How to Grow

Are you wondering how to grow Japanese aralia? Plant it in well-drained soil, blending in a few inches of organic compost first. Select a spot that gets some amount of shade, from deep to dappled. Your planting site should also be protected from wind exposure and full sun.

Fatsia is a great city plant, since it tolerates air pollution. These shrubs are often grown outdoors in large containers. They can also be grown in containers indoors as houseplants. Sow seeds in the spring for best results. They germinate quickly.

How to Prune Japanese Aralia

This shrub does not need to be pruned for its health, but pruning can increase leaf production and also shape the plant. This can be done at any time of year. For rejuvenation pruning, either cut back all stems severely in late winter before growth begins, or take out one-third of the stems - the oldest ones first - any time from late winter to late summer.

How to Propagate Japanese Aralia

You can use the plant’s own seeds to grow more and, in fact, most plants are seed-grown. Just remove the fruit pulp after it is ripe. The seeds will sprout in a month or less.

You can also propagate Japanese aralia from late summer cuttings. Trim off the outer sections of large leaves. It is suggested that you use a rooting hormone as well as bottom heat, maintaining humidity with a tent or by misting regularly.

Seeds are easier but you can only be sure to get variegated cultivars true to type by using cuttings.

Problems, Pests & Diseases

Fatsia is not a plant that’s particularly vulnerable to insect or disease problems. But it sometimes gets common bugs like aphids, mealybugs, spider mites or scales. Control these with horticultural oil sprays. Keeping plants well cared for reduces the pest impact.

If your shrubs are crowded together with limited air circulation, or if you water them from above, fungal and bacterial leaf spots may result. Simply remove any leaves with a lot of spotting and be sure the plant gets the water and fertilizer it needs. If the problem remains serious, use a copper-based fungicide.

Best Varieties to Grow

There are many Aralia varieties and cultivars. The “best” ones depend on the garden’s preferences. Aurea Maculata is extremely popular, with its markings - pale yellow to lime green - extending from the center and veins of the leaves.

Another good option is Variegata, with its white-edged leaves. For sheer color, consider Annelise, with huge yellow and lime-colored splotches that extend over most of the leaf surface. Any of these would work well for outdoor pots.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Japanese Aralia toxic to dogs and cats?

No. Japanese aralia is not toxic to dogs or cats. It is not toxic to horses either.

Can Japanese Aralia be grown indoors?

Yes, Japanese aralia is a popular houseplant. But select one of the smaller cultivars.

Jackie Carroll

Jackie Carroll has written over 500 articles for Gardening Know How on a wide range of topics.