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How to Grow Japanese Aralia — Fatsia

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Fatsia–commonly called Japanese aralia– is a fast-growing evergreen shrub or houseplant. It grows well in cool situations and low light. It is a good choice for the shade garden or low light entries.

Fatsia is a genus of only 1 species and 2 cultivars. It is a quick-growing and long-lasting plant. Fatsia has a single, woody stem that supports long leafstalks and huge leaves. Fatsia grows to 5 feet tall (1.5m) with leaves that can grow to 18 inches (45cm) across.

Fatsia is an ideal shrub for a shaded, sheltered location such as a courtyard or walled garden. It is a long-lived houseplant that doesn’t mind a cool situation.

Get to know Fatsia

  • Plant type: Evergreen shrub
  • Growing Zones and range: Zones 8-10
  • Hardiness: Prefers days about 65°F (18°C) and nights around 50°F (10°C); protect plants from extreme wind
  • Height and width: 3 to 5 feet (1-1.5m) tall, 6 to 8 feet (1.8-2.4m) wide
  • Foliage: Large, palmately lobed, glossy, leathery leaves; leaves can grow to 12 inches (30cm) across
  • Flowers: Small creamy white flowers
  • Bloom time: Mid-autumn
  • Uses: Shade-loving; bold tropical texture; entries, patios, courtyards
  • Common name: Japanese Aralia
  • Botanical name: Fatsia japonica
  • Family: Araliaceae
  • Origin: Eastern Asia

Where to plant Fatsia

  • Fatsia will grow in partial to dense shade; protect the plant from afternoon or winter sun.
  • Indoors grow Fatsia in bright to moderate light with direct sun in winter from an eastern , western, or southern exposure.
  • Grow Fatsia in moist, acidic soil rich in organic matter; will tolerate soils from sandy to heavy clay, but not soggy soil.
  • Indoors plant Fatsia in an all-purpose potting mix.

How to water and feed Fatsia

  • Water Fatsia regularly. Keep the soil moist in spring and summer; reduce watering in fall and winter, but do not let the soil dry out.
  • Fertilize Fatsia twice a year in early spring and early summer.
  • Keep Fatsia bushy by trimming stem tips in spring.
Japanese aralia, Fatsia japonica
Japanese aralia, Fatsia japonica

Fatsia care

  • Provide Fatsia extra humidity in warm temperatures.
  • Repot Fatsia as needed in spring.
  • If Fatsia stems get leggy, cut them back by half in spring.
  • Care should be taken when handling fatsia; its new leaves are tender and bruise easily.

Growing Fatsia as a houseplant

  • Fatsia needs bright to direct light. It can be grown under fluorescent light.
  • Fatsia does best in cool to average room temperature with low to medium humidity.
  • Keep the soil moderately dry.
  • Fertilize Fatsia regularly during spring and summer; use a liquid fertilizer at half strength.

Fatsia pests and diseases

  • Fatsia is susceptible to attack by aphids, mealybugs, scale insects, and spider mites.

Fatsia propagation

  • Take Fatsia cuttings in late winter and spring or grow new plants from seed.

Fatsia varieties to grow

  • Fatsia japonica, fomerly listed as Aralia japonica. Grows to 5 feet (1.5m) tall with woody stems and leafstalks; many lobed leaves are light green and shiny. Cultivars ‘Moseri’ is compact with yellow veining in the leaves; ‘Variegata’ has creamy white margins on leaves.

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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