How to grow and care for Castor Oil Plant Indoors

Some links in this post may be affiliate links

Houseplant, Castor oil Plant

Botanical name: Fatsia japonica
Family: Araliaceae

Castor Oil Plant also called Japanese Aralia, Paperplant or Glossy-leaf Paper Plant is a popular houseplant with a tough constitution. It is native to the tropical regions of southern Japan, southern Korea and Taiwan. The botanical name "Fatsia" is an approximation of the Japanese word for 'eight' in reference to the eight leaf lobes. The leaves are large, deeply lobed and leathery in texture. It is an excellent stand alone plant, growing to a height of 4 ft or more. The flowers rarely appear under room conditions. The plant is extremely durable and can withstand a wide range of conditions and has been shown to effectively remove formaldehyde gas from indoor air.

Several cultivars of Castor Oil Plant have been developed. One of the recognized cultivars is Fatsia japonica Variegata commonly called Spider's Web or Spider White which bears variegated leaves. Castor Oil Plant has been interbred with Hedera helix (Heart Leaf Plant) to produce the hybrid xFatshedera lizei (Tree Ivy).

How to Grow Castor Oil Plant (Fatsia japonica)


Bright light to light semi-shade is ideal for Castor Oil Plant. An east- or west-facing window is ideal for this plant. Learn more on how to ensure your plant receives the correct light in this guide on understanding light for houseplants.


Water Castor Oil Plant thoroughly during the growing period and allow the top 2 in. of soil to dry out between waterings. Reduce watering in the cold months. Avoid waterlogging as it can lead to root-rot disease and eventual death of the plant. Learn more on how to water houseplants.


Average warmth with a minumum of 100C is ideal for Castor Oil Plant. The plant prefers a relatively warm temperature during the growing season followed by a relatively cold season. Find out more on temperature for houseplants.


Castor Oil Plant has no need for high humidity. Average room humidity is ideal for this plant though it can withstand dry air. Mist the leaves frequently and clean them by damp-wiping with a soft cloth.


Feed Castor Oil Plant with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer once every month during the growing season. Withhold feeding in the cold season as growth is minimal and feeding at this time can lead to fertilizer burn. Find out more on feeding houseplants.


Repot the young Castor Oil Plants annually and the mature plants every two years. The best time to repot is at the beginning of the growing period. Use a pot 1 size larger and free-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. Ensure the pot has a drainage hole to avoid waterlogging which can lead to root-rot.


Prune Castor Oil Plant at the beginning of the growing season. Cut back the foliage a few inches above the soil level to rejuvenate growth and achieve a more compact and bushy plant. The foliage can be used to take stem cuttings for propagation of new plants. Learn more on how to prune houseplants.

How to Propagate Castor Oil Plant (Fatsia japonica)

Propagation of Castor Oil Plant can be done by seeds or by stem-tip cuttings. Rarely will the plant flower or produce seeds when grown indoors. Propagation by stem-tip cuttings therefore becomes the best option. Take a stem-tip cutting about 3 in. long and bearing at least two leaves. Dip the cut end in a rooting hormone and stick the cutting in moist rooting soil. Place the set up in a warm humid place until new growth appears. Once the new plant has established, continue with the normal routine care.

Common Problems in Growing Castor Oil Plant (Fatsia japonica)

  • Shrivelled leaves
  • The causes are either too dry air or the plant has been exposed to too hot sunshine. Mist the leaves frequently if the air is to dry or set the pot on a wet pebble tray to raise humidity. Shield the plant from hot sun or move it a shadier spot.

  • Leaves pale and spotted, leaf edges brown and brittle
  • Underwatering is the cause. Water Castor Oil Plant thoroughly during the hot season and allow the top 2 in. of soil to dry out between waterings. Never allow the soil to become completely dry. Learn more on how to water houseplants.

  • Leaves turn yellow and then drop
  • Waterlogging is the cause if leaves are wilted and soft. Ensure the soil is free-draining, the pot has a drainage hole and allow the soil to dry out between waterings. If leaves are brittle, too much heat is the reason; ensure that an average room tempearture is maintained, that is, a temperature that is comfortable for a human being is ideal for Castor Oil Plant.

  • Pests
  • Common pests in Castor Oil Plant are Mealy Bugs, Scale Insects, Aphids and Whiteflies. Isolate the affected plant to prevent spread to ther houseplants and treat the pests appropriately.


Castor Oil Plant (Fatsia japonica) produces a sticky and resinous sap which has been found to cause contact dermatitis in sensitive skin.

Was this insightful? Feel free to share on social media.

On the Blog

On the Blog

Houseplants, Indoor garden
Benefits of houseplants

Apart from adding beauty, live houseplants are beneficial to us in many ways. Some of these are quite interesting. Read more »

Houseplant, Peace Lily
10 Houseplants that clean the air

These ten beautiful houseplants have been found to be effective in removing indoor air pollutants. Select some to improve your indoor air quality. Read more »

Houseplants, Golden Pothos
10 easy houseplants

These houseplants are easy to care for which means they are suitable for you if you are just starting out with growing houseplants. Read more »

Houseplants, Snake Plant, Sanseveria
10 hard to kill houseplants

These houseplants are suitable for the forgetful, a beginner or one who has limited time to take care of their houseplants. Read more »

Houseplant, Nerve plant
16 Houseplants for small spaces

Let not space limit you in greening your living spaces. These small houseplants are perfect to additions for such spaces. Read more »

Houseplant, String of pearls plant
15 Houseplants for hanging baskets

Hanging baskets are one beautiful way of maximizing on the vertical space. These easy to grow houseplants are excellent for hanging. Read more »

Aglaonema modestum
15 Houseplants for low light spaces

Even for the poorly lit spaces, these houseplants will adapt very well to the low light conditions and continue to brighten up such spaces. Read more »

Houseplant, Monstera plant
20 Houseplants for the office

Do not let yourself be surrounded by dull plain walls while you are working. Bring some green in and break the monotony of pale boring walls. Read more »

10 Houseplants suitable for a Terrarium

One interesting way to display houseplants is the use of a terrarium. These houseplants are well suited for a terrarium. Read more »