How to grow and care for Shield Aralia (Polyscias scutellaria) Indoors

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Houseplant, Polyscias scutellaria, Shield Aralia

Botanical name: Polyscias scutellaria
Family: Araliaceae
Sufamily: Aralioideae

Shield Aralia also called Plum Aralia is an evergreen tree-like plant which can grow to a height of about 6 M and bears attractive round leaves.

The leaves in Shield Aralia are alternate or spirally arranged on the stems and they are usually clustered at the tips of the branches.

The leaves and roots of the Polyscias scutellaria have been used as an antiseptic and deodorant. The shredded shield Aralia has aromatic properties that can be mixed with meat or fish to conceal the odor.

Shield Aralia is native to the Southwest Pacific islands where it is found growing as an understory plant.

Other Polyscias that can be grown indoors include Polyscias fruticosa, commonly called Ming Aralia and Polyscias balfouriana, commonly called Aralia balfouriana.

The Best Indoor Growing Conditions for Shield Aralia (Polyscias scutellaria)

The Best Light for Shield Aralia

The best light for Shield Aralia is bright light but away from direct sunlight. However, Shield Aralia will adapt to light shade. Check out this guide on understanding light for houseplants.

How to water Shield Aralia

Water your Shield Aralia moderately during the growing season and allow the soil to dry out slightly between waterings. Reduce watering during the cold months as growth is minimal at this time.

Ensure that the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy soil as Shield Aralia does not like to sit in soggy soil as it is prone to rot-rot.

Never allow the soil to dry out completely as your Shield Aralia may drop all its leaves. Read more on how to water houseplants.


The Best Temperature for Shield Aralia

The best temperature for Shield Aralia is warm to average warmth with a minimum of 160C.

Protect your Shield Aralia from cold draughts as it doesn't like cold temperature at all. Cold temperature may result in reduced growth in your Shield Aralia. Check out this guide on understanding temperature for houseplants.

The Best Humidity for Shield Aralia

Shield Aralia requires high humidity to thrive. Raise humidity for your Shield Aralia by setting the pot on a wet pebble tray. Read more on how to raise humidity for houseplants.

Regularly clean the leaves of your Shield Aralia by damp wiping them with a soft cloth to get rid of dust and reduce pest infestation. Read more on how to clean houseplants.

Fertilizer (Feeding) for Shield Aralia

Feed your Shield Aralia monthly with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer or a balanced, liquid fertilizer during the growing season. Withhold feeding 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.

How to repot Shield Aralia

Repot your Shield Aralia every two years only when they have outgrown the current pot. Shield Aralia grows best when root-bound.

Use free-draining soil and a pot with drainage holes for your Shield Aralia to avoid getting soggy soil as it can lead to root-rot and eventual death of your plant.

How to prune Shield Aralia

Pruning your Shield Aralia requires pinching-back of the growing tips to encourage a bushy and compact growth.

Remove yellow and dead leaves to keep your Shield Aralia neat and tidy. Cut-back the overgrown plant to rejuvenate growth. Read more on how to prune houseplants.

How to Propagate Shield Aralia (Polyscias scutellaria)

Shield Aralia can be propagated from stem-tip cuttings or from hard-wood stem cuttings.

How to propagate Shield Aralia from stem cuttings

Take top 4-6 in. of the stem-tip cutting from your Shield Aralia. You can also take about 6 in. hard-wood stem cutting from your Shield Aralia.

Strip off most of the leaves from the bottom of the Shield Aralia stem cutting. Leave at least 2-4 leaves on the cutting.

Dip the cut end in a rooting hormone to hasten rooting. Insert each cutting into a pot of moist sandy soil.

Cover the pots with clear plastic bag to create a humid atmosphere which enhances root development.

Place the set up in a warm, well-lit spot away from direct sunlight.

Note that Shield 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.

The Shield Aralia cuttings will begin to root after a 4-6 weeks. You will know your cutting has rooted when you see new growth on your cutting.

Once rooting has taken place, gradually phase out the plastic bag covers.

Do not transplant the new plants as Shield Aralia does not like to be disturbed. It is advisable to start the cuttings in pots with adequate room for the young plants.

Common Problems in Shield Aralia (Polyscias scutellaria) Indoors

Why is my Shield Aralia dropping (shedding) leaves?

Some leaf drop in Shield Aralia is normal. However, a sudden change in lighting will cause excessive leaf drop.

Avoid sudden changes in the growing conditions for your Shield Aralia. Acclimatize it gradually over a period of time before changing its position.

Why does my Shield Aralia have brown leaf spots?

Brown leaf spots in your Shield Aralia are caused by underwatering. Never allow the soil-ball to dry out and maintain the soil moderately moist at all times.

Why is my Shield Aralia dying?

Soggy soil for your Shield Aralia will result in death of the plant due to root-rot disease.

Ensure that the soil is free-draining and the pot has a drainage hole. Allow the soil to dry out slightly between waterings. Read more on how to water houseplants.

Why is my Shield Aralia producing yellowish-green young lShield Araliaeaves?

Lack of nutrients is the cause of yellowish-green young leaves in your Shield Aralia.

Shield Aralia require to be fed monthly with a balanced plant fertilizer and the soil needs to be regularly flushed out of accumulated fertilizer deposits. Read more on how to feed houseplants.

Why does my Shield Aralia have yellowing and wilting leaves?

Yellowing and wilting leaves in your Shield Aralia is an indication of root-rot disease. Shield Aralia are prone to 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 your Shield Aralia in fresh soil.

Keep your Shield Aralia dry for a few days before beginning the regular watering.

Ensure that the soil for your Shield Aralia is free-draining and the pot has a drainage hole to avoid getting soggy soil 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 deal with Root-rot Disease.

Which are the common plant pests in Shield Aralia?

The common plant pests in Shield Aralia are Spider Mites especially where air humidity is low or there is inadequate watering.

Isolate the affected Shield Aralia Plant and treat with an insecticidal solution.

Raise humidity for your Shield Aralia to discourage future pest infestation. Read more on how to raise the humidity for houseplants.

Maintain the soil moderately moist for your Shield Aralia and never allow the soil to dry out completely to discourage pest infestation.

Is Shield Aralia toxic?

Shield Aralia (Shield Aralia) is mildy toxic to pets. Shield Aralia contains saponins which if ingested will cause swelling and burning in the mouth and throat, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pains.

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