Botanical name: Polyscias scutellaria
Common names: Shield Aralia, Plum Aralia
Shield Aralia also called Plum Aralia is an easy care evergreen tree-like plant which can grow to a height of about 6M 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.
Photo Credit: BioLib
Shield Aralia grows best in bright light but away from direct sunlight. However, Shield Aralia will adapt to light shade.
Regularly turn the pot to ensure your plant receives light on all sides for uniform growth to prevent lopsided growth. Check out this guide on understanding light for houseplants.
Water 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 root-rot disease.
Never allow the soil to dry out completely as the Shield Aralia may drop all its leaves. Read more on how to water houseplants.
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 Shield Aralia. Check out this guide on understanding temperature for houseplants.
Shield Aralia requires high humidity to thrive. Raise humidity by setting the pot on a wet pebble tray. Read more on how to raise humidity for houseplants.
Regularly clean the leaves by damp wiping them with a soft cloth to get rid of dust and reduce pest infestation. Read more on how to clean houseplants.
Feed 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.
Repot Shield Aralia every two years only when they have outgrown the current pot. It grows best when root-bound.
Use free-draining soil and a pot with drainage holes to avoid getting soggy soil as it can lead to root-rot disease and eventual death of your plant.
Pruning Shield Aralia requires pinching-back of the growing tips to encourage a bushy and compact growth.
Remove yellow and dead leaves to keep Shield Aralia neat and tidy. Cut-back the overgrown plant to rejuvenate growth. Read more on how to prune houseplants.
Shield Aralia 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 your Shield 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. 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.
Photo Credit: Nova Photo Graphik
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.
Brown leaf spots in Shield Aralia are caused by underwatering. Shield Aralia thrives in moderately moist soil.
Never allow the soil-ball to dry out and maintain the soil moderately moist at all times.
Soggy soil for 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.
Lack of nutrients is the cause of yellowish-green young leaves in 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.
Yellowing and wilting leaves in 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 the Shield Aralia 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 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.
The common 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.
Shield Aralia (Polyscias scutellaria) 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.