How to Grow and Care for Japanese Aralia: Expert Tips

How to Grow and Care for Japanese Aralia
13 min reading time

Japanese Aralia is a stunning plant that can add a touch of elegance to any garden or indoors. However, to keep it looking its best, it’s crucial to understand its care requirements and avoid common mistakes. In this section, we’ve gathered expert tips and guidelines on how to grow and care for Japanese Aralia.

Key Takeaways:

  • Understanding Japanese Aralia’s care requirements is crucial for its survival and growth.
  • Proper sunlight, soil, watering, and fertilization are essential for healthy Japanese Aralia.
  • Avoid common mistakes such as overwatering or under-fertilizing to ensure Japanese Aralia’s longevity.
  • Regular pruning and maintenance practices will keep Japanese Aralia looking its best.
  • Protecting Japanese Aralia during winter is necessary to maintain its cold hardiness and ensure its survival.

Understanding Japanese Aralia: An Overview

Japanese Aralia is a stunning plant native to Japan, Korea, and China. It is a member of the Araliaceae family and is also commonly known as Fatsia japonica. This evergreen shrub reaches a height of up to 16 feet and has a spread of 10 feet, making it a popular choice for borders and hedges.

The plant features large glossy leaves, typically measuring around 8-12 inches in diameter, with five to seven lobes. The leaves have a distinct tropical feel, making it an ideal choice for those looking to add some exotic flair to their gardens.

Japanese Aralia produces small flowers in the fall, which eventually give way to small, black berries. However, the plant is primarily grown for its attractive foliage.

While Japanese Aralia is relatively low-maintenance, it requires specific care to thrive and flourish. Understanding its unique characteristics and growth habits is essential for ensuring optimal growth and development.

Choosing the Right Location for Japanese Aralia

Japanese Aralia is a plant that requires ample sunlight to grow. It is important to choose a location that receives enough sunlight for the plant to thrive. Make sure to select an area that gets at least six hours of direct sunlight per day. Avoid placing the plant in areas with too much shade as it will stunt its growth and affect its overall health.

In addition to sunlight, Japanese Aralia thrives in well-draining soil with a pH level between 5.5 and 6.5. Before planting, test the soil’s pH level to ensure it is within the ideal range. Soil with a pH level outside of this range may affect the plant’s ability to absorb nutrients, leading to stunted growth or discoloration.

Japanese Aralia also prefers soil that is rich in organic matter. Consider amending the soil with organic matter such as compost or well-aged manure to help improve soil structure.

When choosing a planting location, ensure that the site provides adequate space for the plant to grow. Japanese Aralia is a relatively large plant, so it needs enough room to spread out. Additionally, it’s essential to avoid placing the plant in low-lying areas that are susceptible to standing water. Poor drainage can lead to root rot and other issues.

How to Grow and Care for Japanese Aralia: Soil Preparation

To ensure successful growth and development of Japanese Aralia, the soil must be properly prepared. The plant prefers well-draining soil with a slightly acidic pH between 5.0-6.0. Here are some key factors to consider when preparing the soil:

Soil Type

Japanese Aralia thrives in a well-draining soil that retains moisture without becoming waterlogged. Sandy loam soil is ideal for Japanese Aralia, but any soil type that drains well can be used. Avoid heavy clay soil that retains water, as it can lead to root rot and other issues.

Soil Amendments

If the soil in your garden lacks the necessary nutrients and organic matter, you can add amendments to improve soil quality. Organic materials such as compost, aged manure, and leaf mold are great choices. Mix these amendments into the soil to a depth of at least 12 inches to ensure adequate distribution.

Soil Drainage

Japanese Aralia is susceptible to root rot, making proper soil drainage crucial. Ensure that the soil drains well to avoid waterlogging, which can lead to root rot and other fungal diseases. If the soil in your garden doesn’t drain well, consider raised bed gardening.

Soil pH

Japanese Aralia prefers slightly acidic soil with a pH of between 5.0-6.0. You can test the soil pH using a soil test kit available at your local garden center or online. If the soil pH is too high, you can lower it by adding organic matter such as peat moss or sulfur. If the pH is too low, you can raise it by adding lime to the soil.

By following these soil preparation techniques, you can provide the ideal environment for healthy and vigorous Japanese Aralia growth.

Planting and Transplanting Japanese Aralia

Planting Japanese Aralia requires careful consideration of its unique root system. Here are a few guidelines to follow:

Planting Guidelines

Choose a location with well-draining soil and partial shade, as direct sunlight can scorch the plant’s leaves. Dig a hole twice the size of the root ball and ensure the top of the root ball is level with the soil surface. Water the plant thoroughly and add a layer of mulch around the base to retain moisture.

Transplanting Guidelines

Transplanting Japanese Aralia is best done during its dormant period in the late fall or early spring. Use a sharp spade to dig around the plant, taking care not to damage the roots. Lift the plant out of the ground by gently loosening the soil around the roots. Replant the Japanese Aralia in the desired location, following the planting guidelines above.

Root System

Japanese Aralia has a shallow root system, and the roots are very sensitive to disturbance. When planting or transplanting, take care not to damage the roots, as this can lead to stunted growth or even death of the plant.

Container Planting

Japanese Aralia can also be planted in containers for indoor or outdoor decoration. Use a large container with drainage holes and fill it with well-draining soil. Ensure the top of the root ball is level with the soil surface and water the plant thoroughly. Place the container in a location with partial shade, and water regularly to keep the soil moist.

By following these planting and transplanting guidelines, you can give your Japanese Aralia the best chance of thriving in its new environment.

Watering Japanese Aralia

Watering Japanese Aralia is one of the essential care practices to ensure the plant remains healthy and vibrant. Proper watering techniques depend on factors such as the season, soil type, and the plant’s growth stage. Here are some Japanese Aralia watering tips to help you keep your plant thriving:

  • Check the soil moisture: Before watering, check the soil’s moisture level to ensure it’s not too dry or overly saturated. A good rule of thumb is to water the plant when the top inch of soil feels slightly dry to the touch.
  • Watering frequency: During the growing season, which is typically from spring to summer, Japanese Aralia needs consistent and regular watering. Depending on the temperature and humidity, you may need to water the plant every two to three days. In contrast, during the dormant season, which is usually from fall to winter, reduce watering to once a week or when the soil feels dry.
  • Watering method: Japanese Aralia prefers a slow and deep watering method to ensure the water reaches the roots. Avoid using a hard jet of water as it can damage the foliage and cause soil erosion. Instead, use a watering can or a garden hose with a gentle spray attachment.
  • Sun and temperature: When the weather is hot and dry, consider providing Japanese Aralia with an extra dose of water to compensate for the moisture loss.

Keep in mind that overwatering can cause root rot, which is a common problem in Japanese Aralia. Therefore, it’s crucial to avoid waterlogging the plant by allowing the soil to drain adequately in between watering. With proper watering practices, your Japanese Aralia will thrive and flourish, providing you with its unique beauty year-round.

Japanese Aralia Pruning and Maintenance

How to Grow and Care for Japanese Aralia

Regular pruning and maintenance are essential to keep your Japanese Aralia in excellent shape. Pruning is the process of removing dead, damaged, or diseased stems and leaves from the plant. It is also necessary to trim overgrown branches to shape the plant better.

When pruning your Japanese Aralia, ensure that you use clean, sharp tools to avoid damaging the stem or causing the plant stress. You can use a pair of pruning shears or scissors, depending on the size of the branch you need to remove.

Aside from pruning, general maintenance practices such as removing dead leaves and debris from around the plant can help keep your Japanese Aralia healthy. Regularly check your plant for pests and diseases, and take the necessary steps to control and prevent them from causing significant damage.

Pest control for Japanese Aralia can involve using natural insecticides to protect your plant from pests like aphids, spider mites and scale insects. You can also use horticultural oils or insecticidal soaps as a less toxic insecticide that can help prevent pest infestation and control the spread of diseases.

Lastly, to keep your Japanese Aralia pest-free and disease-resistant, make sure to keep it in optimal living conditions by providing adequate sunlight and proper watering, fertilization, and pruning.

Fertilizing Japanese Aralia

Proper fertilization is essential for the optimal growth of Japanese Aralia. The right nutrients can help promote healthy foliage, improve disease resistance, and enhance the plant’s overall appearance.

For Japanese Aralia, it’s crucial to provide a balanced fertilizer that contains equal parts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. This ratio can be found in a good quality, all-purpose fertilizer that is suitable for most plants.

Japanese Aralia needs regular fertilization throughout the growing season to thrive. Fertilize the plant during the spring and summer months, once every two to three weeks. Avoid fertilizing Japanese Aralia during the winter months, as the plant is dormant and doesn’t require additional nutrients.

Organic fertilizers are a great alternative to synthetic fertilizers, as they provide a slow-release of nutrients and improve soil health. Consider using organic fertilizers like compost, manure, or bone meal to feed your Japanese Aralia.

It’s also essential to consider the specific nutrient needs of Japanese Aralia. The plant needs a soil pH between 6.0 to 6.5 to absorb nutrients effectively. If the soil is too acidic or alkaline, Japanese Aralia may experience nutrient deficiencies, resulting in poor growth and yellowing leaves.

Overall, proper fertilization is critical to maintaining the health and beauty of Japanese Aralia. Be sure to follow the recommended fertilization schedule and provide balanced nutrients to promote optimal growth and foliage.

Protecting Japanese Aralia in Winter

Winter can be harsh for Japanese Aralia, which is why it’s crucial to provide the necessary protection to help it survive through the season. Here are some Japanese Aralia winter care tips to keep your plant healthy and thriving:

Japanese Aralia Frost Protection

The frost can damage your Japanese Aralia’s leaves and branches, so it’s important to protect it from freezing temperatures. One way to do this is by covering your plant with a cloth or blanket on frosty nights. You can also use frost cloths or burlap to create a protective shield around your plant. It’s essential to remove the coverings during the daytime to allow sunlight and air circulation.

Japanese Aralia Cold Hardiness

Japanese Aralia is a moderately cold-hardy plant, but it still needs protection during extreme weather conditions. One way to do this is by mulching around your plant’s base to maintain a consistent soil temperature. You can use organic mulch such as leaves, straw, or bark chips to retain moisture and insulate the roots.

Other Japanese Aralia Winter Care Tips

It’s essential to avoid overwatering your Japanese Aralia during the winter season, as this can lead to root rot. Ensure the soil is well-drained and let it dry before watering. It’s also vital to clean up any fallen debris or dead leaves around your plant, as they can harbor pests or diseases that can affect your plant’s health.

By providing the right care and protection, you can help your Japanese Aralia survive the winter and thrive for years to come.


In conclusion, growing and caring for Japanese Aralia requires attention to detail and some extra effort. However, the beauty and striking features of this plant make it worth the extra work. Japanese Aralia can be an exciting addition to any indoor or outdoor garden, as long as you provide the appropriate lighting, soil, and watering conditions.

Remember, Japanese Aralia requires an adequate amount of water but can quickly die if overwatered. Ensure you have proper drainage in place to prevent root rot. Additionally, be mindful of the sunlight requirements of your Japanese Aralia, as they may need more or less than other plants.

Pruning and maintaining your Japanese Aralia regularly help it maintain its unique shape and appearance. Regular pest control and disease prevention measures should also be taken to ensure healthy growth.

Lastly, protecting your Japanese Aralia during the winter months is critical in ensuring its survival. Taking extra measures to protect your plant from frost, snow, and severe cold temperatures will help it thrive and remain healthy.


How often should I water Japanese Aralia?

Japanese Aralia should be watered when the top inch of soil feels dry. It’s important not to overwater, as this plant prefers slightly dry conditions.

Can Japanese Aralia tolerate direct sunlight?

Japanese Aralia prefers bright but indirect sunlight. It can tolerate some morning or evening sun, but intense afternoon sun should be avoided.

How tall can Japanese Aralia grow?

Japanese Aralia can reach a height of up to 6 feet when grown outdoors. When grown as a houseplant, it typically stays smaller, around 3 to 4 feet tall.

How do I prune Japanese Aralia?

Pruning Japanese Aralia is best done in spring or early summer. Remove any dead or damaged branches, as well as any growth that is crossing or crowding the plant. Regular pruning will help maintain its shape.

Can I grow Japanese Aralia indoors?

Yes, Japanese Aralia can be grown indoors as a houseplant. Place it in a well-lit area with bright, indirect sunlight, and ensure the pot has proper drainage.

What type of soil does Japanese Aralia prefer?

Japanese Aralia prefers well-draining soil with a slightly acidic to neutral pH level. A mix of peat moss, perlite, and potting soil works well for this plant.

Does Japanese Aralia require fertilization?

Yes, Japanese Aralia benefits from regular fertilization during the growing season. Use a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer formulated for houseplants, following the package instructions for application rates.

How do I protect Japanese Aralia from pests?

Japanese Aralia is relatively pest-resistant, but it can occasionally be affected by spider mites or mealybugs. Regularly inspect the leaves for any signs of pests and treat them with an organic insecticidal soap if necessary.

Can I propagate Japanese Aralia?

Yes, Japanese Aralia can be propagated through stem cuttings. Take a 4-6 inch cutting from a healthy plant, remove the lower leaves, and place it in moist potting soil. Keep the soil consistently damp until roots develop.

Is Japanese Aralia toxic to pets?

Yes, Japanese Aralia is toxic to cats and dogs if ingested. It’s important to keep this plant out of reach of pets to prevent any potential health issues.

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