False Aralia

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In the vast and fascinating world of houseplants, the False Aralia (Schefflera elegantissima) stands as an alluring selection. Its striking foliage, an enchanting blend of dark green and coppery hues, sets it apart from your average greenery. Also, here is a detailed article on how to for care False Aralia

Renowned for its ornamental beauty and relatively easy care, this plant is an ideal addition to any indoor green space. Delve into the world of the False Aralia and explore its enchanting beauty and easy-going nature. For Propagation, see how to propagate False Aralia

Plant Overview

Botanical NameSchefflera elegantissima
Common NameFalse Aralia
Plant TypeEvergreen Shrub
Average Size6 to 8 feet (indoor)
Sunlight RequirementsIndirect, bright light
Soil TypeWell-draining
Soil pH6.1 – 6.5 (slightly acidic)
Bloom TimeRarely blooms indoors
Flower ColorDoes not typically flower indoors

Plant Description

False Aralia is an evergreen shrub native to the South Pacific, including the archipelago of New Caledonia. It sports a unique and appealing foliage texture due to its slender, serrated leaves, which start out as a coppery-red color when young and mature to a deep, glossy green. Often, the contrast between the young and mature leaves on a single plant can create a striking visual effect, making it a beloved choice among houseplant enthusiasts.

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False Aralia can grow up to 20 feet tall in its natural habitat. However, when grown as a houseplant, it typically reaches a more manageable height of 6 to 8 feet. It’s considered an upright plant, often growing tall before branching out, which makes it an excellent choice for spaces with vertical room to spare.

When provided with ideal growing conditions—bright, indirect light, consistent warmth, and high humidity—the False Aralia thrives, boasting its distinctive, palm-like leaf structure. However, don’t be alarmed if you notice occasional leaf drop; it’s a common occurrence, especially when the plant is adjusting to a new environment.

Although False Aralia is not a common bloomer indoors, it produces small, inconspicuous flowers when grown outdoors in ideal climates. When it comes to indoor care, the primary focus lies in maintaining healthy foliage.

The history of this plant as an indoor specimen dates back to the Victorian era when the interest in houseplants started to spike significantly. Since then, its intriguing appearance, coupled with its relative ease of care, has cemented its status as a favorite in the plant world.


Identification of the Plant

The False Aralia is an evergreen shrub characterized by its distinctive, slender, serrated leaves, making it immediately identifiable among other indoor plants. As they emerge, the leaves display a coppery-red color which later matures to a deep, dark green. This intriguing contrast between young and mature leaves on the same plant adds to its visual appeal.

This plant typically grows in an upright pattern, reaching heights of 6 to 8 feet indoors (up to 20 feet outdoors), creating a commanding presence in your interior spaces. Its foliage, often mistaken for palm fronds due to their long, slender form and serrated edges, forms an elegant canopy that adds a tropical touch to your decor.

In its natural habitat and under the right conditions, the False Aralia may produce small, inconspicuous flowers. However, this is not a common occurrence indoors. When it comes to its identification, the primary focus lies in its striking, palm-like leaves and tall, shrubby growth.


Types and Varieties

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While the False Aralia, or Schefflera elegantissima, is itself a particular variety within the Schefflera genus, there are numerous other intriguing types within this group worth exploring.

  1. Schefflera arboricola: Also known as the umbrella tree, this variety is a common choice among houseplant enthusiasts. It has smaller, glossier leaves compared to the False Aralia and tends to branch out more generously, giving it a fuller appearance. It’s available in a variegated form with splashes of cream or gold on the leaves.
  2. Schefflera actinophylla: Often referred to as the Queensland umbrella tree or octopus tree, this variety is larger and can produce distinctive red or maroon flowers under the right conditions.

Facts about the Plant

  1. Name Origins: The False Aralia is also known as “Spider Aralia” and “Finger Aralia” due to the unique form and texture of its leaves. The botanical name, Schefflera elegantissima, reflects its inherent elegance.
  2. Survivor in its Habitat: In its natural habitat of the South Pacific, the False Aralia can grow up to 20 feet tall, showcasing its resilience and adaptability.
  3. Rare Bloomer: While it’s a rare occurrence, under optimal outdoor conditions, the False Aralia may produce small, nondescript flowers.
  4. Versatility: False Aralia has been used in bonsai culture, showcasing the plant’s versatility in various forms of gardening.
  5. Longevity: With the right care, False Aralia can live and continue to enhance your living space for many years, sometimes even decades!

Tips to Grow This Plant

Growing a False Aralia at home can be a rewarding experience, and the following tips will help you to ensure its optimal growth and longevity:

  1. Sunlight: Provide your False Aralia with bright, indirect light. Too much direct sunlight can scorch its delicate leaves.
  2. Water: False Aralia prefers evenly moist soil, but be careful not to overwater. Allow the top inch of soil to dry out between watering to avoid root rot.
  3. Humidity: As a tropical plant, False Aralia enjoys high humidity. Consider placing it on a pebble tray filled with water or use a room humidifier.
  4. Temperature: Keep the temperature consistent, ideally between 60°F and 85°F. Avoid drafts and sudden temperature changes.
  5. Fertilizer: Feed your False Aralia with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer during the growing season (spring and summer).
  6. Pruning: Regularly prune your False Aralia to maintain its shape and size. Always prune just above a leaf node to encourage bushier growth.
  7. Repotting: Repot your False Aralia every 2-3 years, or when it becomes root-bound. Always choose a pot with adequate drainage.
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Major Problems

While generally hardy, False Aralia can encounter a few problems, primarily related to watering and lighting:

  1. Leaf Drop: A common issue with False Aralia is leaf drop, often caused by sudden changes in temperature, lighting, or humidity. This is also common when the plant is adjusting to a new environment. Ensure that your plant is in a location with consistent conditions.
  2. Yellowing Leaves: Overwatering is a common cause of yellowing leaves. Always allow the top inch of the soil to dry out between watering sessions.
  3. Pests: Like many houseplants, False Aralia can be prone to pests such as spider mites, especially in dry indoor air. Regularly mist your plant or provide other forms of humidity to prevent these pests.
  4. Leggy Growth: If your False Aralia is stretching out or seems to be growing lanky, it may not be receiving enough light. Consider moving it to a brighter location, but avoid direct sunlight.

Care and Maintenance

Proper care and maintenance are the keys to a thriving False Aralia. Here are some important tips:

  1. Watering: Water your False Aralia when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch. Overwatering can lead to root rot, so always err on the side of caution.
  2. Light: Provide bright, indirect light. Direct sunlight can lead to leaf scorching.
  3. Humidity: Being a tropical plant, False Aralia enjoys high humidity. Consider misting the plant or placing it on a pebble tray filled with water.
  4. Feeding: Use a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer during the growing season. Do not fertilize in the winter months when the plant is dormant.
  5. Pruning: To keep your False Aralia looking its best, prune regularly. This helps maintain its shape and size and encourages bushier growth.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Why are the leaves on my False Aralia dropping?

Leaf drop is a common issue with False Aralia, often caused by changes in light, temperature, or humidity. It can also occur when the plant is adjusting to a new environment.


How often should I water my False Aralia?

Water your False Aralia when the top inch of soil is dry to the touch. Overwatering can lead to root rot, a serious condition that can kill the plant.

Can False Aralia grow in low light?

False Aralia prefers bright, indirect light. It can tolerate low light conditions, but growth may be slower and the leaves may lose some of their vibrant color.

How do I propagate False Aralia?

False Aralia can be propagated using stem cuttings. Cut a healthy stem, let it callous over for a day or two, then plant it in a well-draining potting mix.

Does False Aralia flower?

While False Aralia can produce small, nondescript flowers in its natural outdoor habitat, it rarely blooms indoors.

Is False Aralia poisonous?

Yes, False Aralia can be toxic to pets if ingested, so it’s best to keep it out of reach of cats, dogs, and other pets.

About Christopher Evans

Hello, I'm Chris, the green-thumbed Founder of PotGardener.com. I'm passionate about bringing the beauty of nature indoors through houseplants and indoor gardening. Let's create healthier and more beautiful living spaces, one plant at a time!

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