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Grow Fatsia Japonica As a Houseplant
Grow Fatsia japonica ‘Spider’s Web’ for a gorgeous focal plant in your home.
Fatsia japonica, sometimes called Japanese aralia, is a shade-loving shrub that thrives in moist conditions. It’s usually grown for its outstanding foliage. The huge leaves are deeply lobed and grow to nearly a foot wide. Fatsia grows up to 8 feet tall. The white flower clusters appear in fall, on mature plants. Following them, in the winter, shiny, black fruit appear.
Fatsia likes slightly acid, nutrient-rich, moist soil. Also, it grows best in a shady location.
When stems that become spindly or leggy, simply cut them back. This encourages branching.
With proper conditions, Fatsia proves to be a low-maintenance plant. Also, pests seldom affect them.
Fatsia can be grown in beds or in containers both inside and out. It makes a bold addition to a courtyard or patio.
Fatsia japonica and Hedera helix (English Ivy) hybridize together to form Fatshedera lizei, also known as x Fatshedera lizei. The x denotes that the two parent plants represent different genus (Fatsia and Hedera). Thus the resulting plant, Fatshedera, remains sterile.
Introduction to Fatsia japonica
With broad, deeply lobed, dark green leaves held on stiff stems, Fatsia makes a bold landscape effect. It prefers a shady growing area. In fact, it might show the best at your home’s entry.
However, don’t rule out containers. Although Fatsia often grows large, it performs well in a large container.
Fatsia creates a dramatic effect with upright stems that bend and curve their way to about eight feet tall before their weight causes them to fall a bit horizontally.
In the fall, upright clusters of gorgeous creamy white flowers appear. These flowers attract bees and hummingbirds to their sweet nectar.
Then, toward winter, they produce shiny, black fruit. Though these fruit create an interesting contrast for several weeks, they prove inedible for people. However, birds find them quite attractive.
New sprouts appear toward the base of older stems. Keep them or remove to create new plants.
Scientific name: Fatsia japonica Pronunciation: FAT-see-uh juh-PAW-nick-uh
Common name(s): Fatsia
Plant type: shrub
USDA hardiness zones: 8 through 11
Origin: native to southern Japan, southern Korea, and Taiwan.
Uses: These plants make incredible mass plantings, specimen plants; container plants, or above-ground plantings when grown outside. They also grow very well as houseplants.
Height: 5 to 8 feet
Spread: 3 to 10 feet
Plant habit: upright; round
Plant density: moderate
Growth rate: moderate
This simple leaf structure shows serrated edges on a palmate, star-shaped leaf. As an evergreen, the color remains green year-round, with no color change during the fall months.
Leaves develop a full length of 8 to 12 inches. They grow in an alternate leaf pattern.
Fatsia japonica displays beautiful white flowers during the fall months. These attract honey bees and hummingbirds.
The fruit of the Fatsia japonica grows into a round shape that is less than 1/2 inch. Covered by a fleshy, shiny-black color, they show distinctly against the green foliage and white flowers. While people should not eat the fruit, it provides important winter food for native wild birds. In fact, bird watchers enjoy having this plant, if outdoors, near a viewing window.
Trunk and Branches
Trunk/bark/branches: multi-trunked or clumping stems
Stem/twig: Very thick, green stems and twigs
Light requirement: plant grows in the shade, avoids full-sun
Soil tolerances: slightly alkaline; clay; sand; acidic; loam; poor salt tolerance.
Drought tolerance: moderate
Plant spacing: 36 to 60 inches
Other Notes to Grow Fatsia japonica
Roots: Roots usually present no problems.
Winter interest: As an evergreen, they pose no special winter issues. However, they do provide important food for wild birds in the area.
Outstanding: This plant displays outstanding ornamental features, whether planted outside or as a houseplant.
Invasive potential: Although not native to North America, no known invasive tendencies exist for Fatsia japonica.
Pest resistance: They offer high pest resistance. In fact, pests seem to avoid them.
Use and Management
Although tough and leathery in appearance, the leaves of Japanese Fatsia cannot tolerate sunny locations. It can tolerate some filtered light. However, too much sun can burn the leaves and prolonged exposure will eventually kill the plant. As stems become tall and lanky, prune back to increase growth and leaf production on the bottom of the plant. Fatsia will grow in any soil that doesn’t become soggy. As such, it also makes a nice house plant in a brightly lit area.
Propagation of Fatsia is from cuttings which root easily, or by seed. But, remember to keep them cool during propagation and when growing.
Fatsia can be occasionally bothered by scale or mealy-bugs. However, it generally remains free of pests.
Pests and Diseases