More often known as emerald tree or serpent tree, china doll (Radermachera sinica) is a delicate-looking plant that hales from the warm climates of southern and eastern Asia. China doll plants in gardens generally reach heights of 25 to 30 feet (7.5 to 9 m.), although the tree can reach much greater heights in its natural environment. Indoors, china doll plants remain shrubby, usually topping out at 4 to 6 feet (1 to 2 m.). Read on for information about growing and caring for china doll plants in the garden.
Can You Grow China Doll Plants Outside?
Growing china doll plants in gardens is feasible only in USDA plant hardiness zones 10 and 11. However, china doll has become a popular houseplant, valued for its glossy, divided leaves.
How to Grow China Doll Plants in Gardens
China doll plants in the garden generally prefer full sun but benefit from partial shade in hot, sunny climates. The best location is one with moist, rich, well-drained soil, often near a wall or fence where the plant is protected from strong winds. China doll plants will not tolerate frost.
Care of outdoor china doll plants includes watering. Water outdoor china doll plant regularly so the soil never becomes completely dry. As a general rule, an inch (2.5 cm.) of water per week via watering or rainfall is sufficient – or when the top 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 cm.) of soil are dry. A 2-3 inch (5 to 7.5 cm.) layer of mulch keeps the roots cool and moist.
Apply a balanced, timed-released fertilizer every three months from spring through autumn.
Caring for China Doll Plants Indoors
Grow china doll plants indoors outside of their hardiness zone in a container filled with a soil-based potting mix. Place the plant where it receives several hours of bright, indirect light per day, but avoid direct, intense sunlight.
Water as needed to keep the soil consistently moist, but never soaking wet. China doll prefers normally warm room temperatures between 70 and 75 F. (21-24 C.) during the day, with nighttime temps about 10 degrees cooler.
Apply a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer once or twice a month during the growing season.