Botanical name: Polyscias spp
Polyscias also called Aralia are popular plants on account of their attractive foliage and ability to adapt to indoor growing conditions.
Aralia are not easy to grow under room conditions and they readily drop leaves if the environment is wrong.
They need good light, even moisture at the roots and frequent misting of leaves in dry weather. Polyscias are distinctly unhappy where the atmosphere is dry.
The numerous (there are over 100) varieties of Polyscias are oriental trees with attractive foliage and are grown with twisted stems. The leaves in Polyscias are usually ferny.
Polyscias can grow to a height of 8 ft in the tropical outdoors but for the container grown Polyscias, height is controlled through regular pruning of the branch tips which also encourages bushiness.
In the tropical wild Polyscias will produce a 6 inch long inflorescences but when grown indoors, flowering is unlikely.
Common Polyscias that are grown indoors include Polyscias balfouriana, commonly called Aralia balfouriana or Dinner Plate Aralia, Polyscias scutellaria, commonly called Shield Aralia and Polyscias fruticosa, commonly called Ming Aralia.
Aralia in various sizes are readily available online at Etsy. Buy Aralia (Polyscias) online from Etsy.
Polyscias (Aralia) thrives in bright light away from direct sunlight, warm and humid conditions and moderately moist, fertile, well-drained soils coupled with monthly feeding during the growing season.
Aralia requires regular pruning to keep it neat, promote a bushy, compact growth and rejuvenate growth. Repotting is needed every 2-3 years when it has outgrown its pot as it grows best when pot-bound. Keep reading for more on these growing conditions and how to achieve them.
Aralia grows best in bright light but away from direct sunlight. However, it will adapt to light shade but will grow much slower.
Regularly turn the pot to ensure the plant receives light on all sides for uniform growth to prevent lopsided growth.
Polyscias can also grow under a grow light where the natural lighting is not adequate.
Water Polyscias liberally during the growing season and allow the soil to dry out slightly between waterings to keep it moderately moist.
Water less during the cold season as growth is minimal at this time but never allow the soil to dry out completely as it may cause the Aralia to drop all its leaves.
Ensure that the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy soil as Aralia do not like to sit in soggy soil as it is prone to root-rot disease.
The best temperature for Aralia is warm to average warmth with a minimum of 100C.
Keep the Polyscias away from cold draughts as it doesn't like cold temperature at all. Cold temperature may result in reduced growth.
Aralia require high humidity to thrive. Raise humidity by setting the pot on a wet pebble tray or use a cool mist humidifier.
Regularly clean the leaves of the wide-leaved Polyscias by damp wiping them with a soft cloth to get rid of dust and reduce pest infestation.
Feed Aralia monthly with a balanced, liquid fertilizer during the growing season. Do not feed during the cold season as growth is minimal at this time.
Flush out accumulated salts arising from fertilizers every 2-3 months by running a stream of water through the soil until the water comes out through the drainage holes. Let the stream of water run for a few minutes and repeat the process several times.
Repot Aralia every 2-3 years only when they have outgrown the current pot. They grow best when they are root-bound.
Use a pot one size larger than the current one and ensure that the pot has a drainage hole to avoid getting soggy soil as it can lead to root-rot disease and eventual death of the plant.
The best soil for Aralia should be rich in organic matter and free-draining to prevent it from getting soggy while providing the required nutrients.
Most multi-purpose potting mixes are ideal for these plants like these quality Potting Mixes available at Etsy.
Pruning Aralia requires pinching-back of the growing tips to encourage a bushy and compact growth.
Remove yellow and dead leaves to keep the Polyscias neat and discourage pest and disease infestations. Cut-back the overgrown plant to rejuvenate growth.
Aralia (Polyscias) propagation can be done from stem-tip cuttings or from hard-wood stem cuttings.
Take top 4-6 in. of the stem-tip cutting from a healthy Aralia. You can also take about 6 in. hard-wood stem cutting.
Strip off most of the leaves from the bottom of the stem cutting. Retain at least 2-4 leaves on the cutting.
Dip the cut end in a rooting hormone to hasten rooting.
Insert the Aralia cutting in moist, free-draining soil and cover the set up with clear polythene to create a greenhouse effect in order to promote rooting.
Place the set up in a warm brightly lit spot. The cuttings should begin to root after a 4-6 weeks. You will know the cutting has rooted when you see new growth.
Once rooting has taken place, gradually phase out the plastic bag cover.
Allow the new plants to be well established before transplanting after which you can begin routine care.
Note: Aralia stem cuttings and newly propagated plants rot easily at the base and in the roots, therefore, do not mist the leaves and maintain the soil moist but not wet.
Do not transplant the new plants as Polyscias do not like to be disturbed. It is advisable to start the cuttings in pots with adequate room for the young plants.
Aralia (Polyscias) problems indoors include brown leaf spots, plant death, leaf drop, wilting, yellow leaves, pests and diseases among others. Keep reading for more on these problems, their remedies and solutions.
Some leaf drop in Aralia is normal. However, a sudden change in lighting will cause excessive leaf drop.
Do not change the growing conditions for the Polyscias suddenly. Acclimatize it gradually over a period of time before changing its position.
Brown leaf spots in Polyscias are caused by underwatering as it grows best in moderately moist soil during the growing season and slightly moist in the cold period.
Water the Aralia thoroughly and maintain the soil moderately moist during the growing season. Reduce watering in the cold season but do not allow the soil-ball to dry out completely.
Lack of nutrients due to poor feeding is the cause of yellowish-green young leaves in Polyscias.
Feed the Aralia monthly during the growing season with a balanced, liquid fertilizer but do not feed in the cold season as growth is minimal at this time.
The soil needs to be regularly flushed out of accumulated fertilizer deposits by running a stream of water through the soil for some time and repeating the process several times.
Soggy soil for Polyscias will result in death of the plant due to root-rot disease which is promoted by overwet (soggy) soil.
Make sure that the soil is free-draining and the pot has a drainage hole to avoid getting soggy soil.
Allow the soil to dry out slightly between waterings to remain moderately moist during the growing season.
Decrease watering in the cold season to keep the soil slightly moist but do not let the soil dry out completely.
Yellowing and wilting leaves in Aralia is an indication of root-rot disease which is promoted by soggy soil.
To save the plant, take it out from its pot, clean off the soil from the roots and inspect the roots. Cut away brown-black mushy roots and treat the remaining roots with a fungicidal solution.
Clean and disinfect the pot with the fungicidal solution and repot the Polyscias in fresh soil. Keep the Polyscias dry for a few days before beginning the regular watering.
Ensure that the soil is free-draining and the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy in the future.
Allow the soil to dry out slightly between waterings. Never allow the plant to sit in soggy soil. Read more on how to treat root-rot disease in houseplants.
The common pests in Aralia are Spider Mites especially where air humidity is low or there is inadequate watering. Isolate the affected Polyscias Plant and treat with an insecticidal solution.
Raise humidity to discourage future pest infestation; set the pot on a wet pebble tray or use a cool mist humidifier. Read more on how to raise the humidity for houseplants.
Maintain the soil moderately moist and never allow the soil to dry out completely to discourage pest infestation.
Aralia (Polyscias) are toxic to pets as outlined by ASPCA. They contain saponins which if ingested will cause swelling and burning in the mouth and throat, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pains.