How to Care for Japanese Aralia

Japanese Aralia

There’s something deeply engaging about the Japanese Aralia, a houseplant that combines both an exotic appeal with a robust resilience. Its broad, glossy leaves bring a touch of the tropics to your home or office space, creating a vibrant ambiance and infusing life even in the dreariest corners.

As a seasoned horticulturist and houseplant enthusiast, I have had the pleasure of cultivating and propagating this fantastic plant over the years.

With careful attention to lighting, watering, temperature, soil, and occasional pruning, the Japanese Aralia (also known as Fatsia japonica) can thrive in your care.Also, here is a detailed article on how to propagate Japanese Aralia

Care Basics of Japanese Aralia

Let’s take a glance at the fundamental care requirements of the Japanese Aralia, to ensure you’re well-equipped to provide your plant with the best possible environment.

Care AspectRequirementLevel of Difficulty
LightPartial shadeEasy
WaterRegular watering, slightly moist but not overly wetModerate
Temperature60-80°F (15-27°C)Easy
Soil pH5.5-7.5 (Slightly Acidic-Neutral)Moderate
Soil TypeWell-drained, loamyEasy
FertilizerBalanced liquid fertilizer, used sparinglyModerate
PruningOccasional, to maintain shape and promote bushinessModerate
Growth PeriodSpring to early fallEasy
Tools NeededWatering can, pruning shears, pot with drainage, balanced fertilizer, loamy soilModerate

Lighting Requirments

Japanese Aralia prefers a balance of light and shade, ideally flourishing under indirect, bright light making it a great choice for spaces with less natural light.

Japanese Aralia

A. Light Requirements

The Japanese Aralia appreciates bright but indirect light. Too much direct sunlight may cause its leaves to scorch, whereas insufficient light can result in leaf loss and stunted growth. Remember, however, that this plant has a high tolerance level and can adjust to less-than-ideal light conditions.

B. Types of Light Exposure

This plant does best with partial shade to filtered sunlight exposure. It can tolerate full shade but would have less vigorous growth. Be cautious with direct sunlight, particularly during the hot afternoon hours, as this can lead to leaf burn.

C. How to Provide Proper Light to This Plant

Position your Japanese Aralia near a north or east-facing window where it can receive a good amount of indirect light. If your plant isn’t getting enough light, you may notice its vibrant green leaves becoming dull or its growth rate slowing. If you don’t have access to natural light, fluorescent lighting can be a good substitute, keeping the plant around 2-3 feet away from the light source.

Planting Techniques

Understanding the right planting techniques for Japanese Aralia will help ensure its healthy growth and longevity. The process is straightforward and can be performed with basic gardening tools.

How to Plant Japanese Aralia

  1. Start by choosing a container with ample drainage to prevent water-logging. The size of the pot should comfortably accommodate the plant’s root ball, with some room for growth.
  2. Fill the container with a loamy, well-draining soil mix, leaving some space at the top for watering.
  3. Carefully remove the Japanese Aralia from its nursery pot, ensuring you don’t damage its roots in the process.
  4. Place the plant into the new container, ensuring the top of the root ball is level with the soil surface.
  5. Backfill around the plant with your soil mix, patting it down gently to remove any air pockets.
  6. Water the plant thoroughly to settle the soil around the roots.

Location for Planting Japanese Aralia

Japanese Aralia, given its tolerance to varying light conditions, is flexible about its placement. Ideally, place it in a location where it gets bright, indirect light. Near a north or east-facing window would be ideal. However, if you don’t have such a window, placing it further into the room away from a south or west-facing window can also work.


Watering is a crucial aspect of maintaining your Japanese Aralia. A well-hydrated plant is a happy plant, but the key is finding the perfect balance.

Water Requirements

Japanese Aralia prefers evenly moist soil but doesn’t like to sit in overly wet conditions. Hence, the watering should be done to maintain a slight degree of dampness. However, it is quite a resilient plant and can tolerate periods of dryness.

How Often to Water

The frequency of watering depends on the plant’s environment and the current season. Typically, during the warmer months, Japanese Aralia needs to be watered once or twice a week. In contrast, during the cooler months, you can reduce watering to once every two weeks or so.

Japanese Aralia

Signs of Overwatering and Under-watering

Signs of overwatering in a Japanese Aralia include yellowing leaves, drooping or wilting growth, and potential root rot. On the other hand, an under-watered Aralia may exhibit drooping, brown leaf tips, and slower growth.

Tips for Proper Watering Techniques

When watering, apply water at the soil level to avoid wetting the foliage. The aim is to thoroughly soak the soil so that moisture reaches the deep roots. However, be sure to let the excess water drain out to avoid waterlogging.

Using a watering can with a long spout can help direct the water to the base of the plant and minimize water splashing on the foliage.

Soil and Fertilization

Understanding the soil and fertilization needs of Japanese Aralia can help your plant thrive.

Soil Requirements

Japanese Aralia prefers a well-draining, loamy soil. The pH should ideally be slightly acidic to neutral (5.5 to 7.5).

Importance of Proper Soil Drainage

Proper soil drainage is crucial in preventing waterlogging, which can lead to root rot and other diseases. The loamy soil mix allows water to flow freely, ensuring that the roots aren’t sitting in soggy soil. You can improve soil drainage by adding organic matter, such as compost or peat moss.

Fertilization Requirements and Tips

Japanese Aralia does not require heavy feeding. A balanced liquid fertilizer can be applied sparingly during the growing season (spring through early fall). Avoid fertilizing in the winter when the plant’s growth naturally slows down.

Here are some tips for proper fertilization:

  1. Dilute the fertilizer: Always follow the instructions on the fertilizer package to avoid burning the roots.
  2. Apply evenly: Distribute the fertilizer evenly around the base of the plant, taking care not to splash on the leaves.
  3. Time it right: Early morning or late evening is the best time to fertilize, as applying during the hottest part of the day can cause stress to the plant.

Temperature and Humidity

Maintaining the right temperature and humidity levels can significantly impact your Japanese Aralia’s health and vitality.

Optimal Temperature Range

Japanese Aralia thrives in temperatures ranging between 60-80°F (15-27°C). Although it can tolerate temperatures slightly outside this range, prolonged exposure to colder conditions, particularly frost, can damage the plant.

Humidity Requirements

Despite its tropical appearance, Japanese Aralia is relatively tolerant of varying humidity levels. It can thrive in average indoor humidity but will appreciate increased humidity levels, especially during drier winter months.

How to Adjust Temperature and Humidity for Optimal Growth

To regulate temperature, position your Japanese Aralia away from potential cold drafts and avoid placing it near heating vents, which can create dry conditions. During extreme weather, you may need to move your plant to a more suitable location indoors.

To increase humidity, you can mist your plant lightly or place it on a tray filled with pebbles and a little water. However, avoid excessively wet conditions, which could encourage disease. A humidifier can also help increase humidity, especially during winter when indoor air tends to be dry.

Pests and Diseases

Just like any other plant, Japanese Aralia can fall prey to certain pests and diseases. However, with proper care and attention, you can keep your plant healthy.

Japanese Aralia

Common Pests and Diseases

The most common pests affecting Japanese Aralia are spider mites, scale insects, and mealybugs. These pests suck sap from the plant, causing yellowing or wilting of the leaves.

Root rot is the most common disease for Japanese Aralia, typically due to overwatering and poor drainage.

Prevention and Treatment Methods

  1. Pest Control: Regularly inspect your plant for pests. If you notice any, you can remove them manually or use an insecticidal soap or neem oil solution.
  2. Prevent Root Rot: Ensuring your plant has good drainage can prevent root rot. If your plant is affected, you’ll need to remove the rotted roots and repot the plant in fresh soil.
  3. Maintenance: Regularly clean the leaves of your Japanese Aralia to prevent dust buildup, which can attract pests.


Pruning is an important part of caring for your Japanese Aralia. Not only does it help maintain the plant’s shape, but it also encourages bushier growth.

Reasons for Pruning Japanese Aralia

  1. Shape Maintenance: Over time, your Japanese Aralia might grow unevenly. Pruning allows you to maintain the desired shape of the plant.
  2. Health Maintenance: Pruning helps remove any dead or dying leaves, promoting overall plant health and allowing the plant to focus its energy on new growth.
  3. Encourage Bushier Growth: If your Japanese Aralia is growing tall but not wide, a good pruning can encourage it to grow bushier.

How to Prune Japanese Aralia

Pruning a Japanese Aralia is a straightforward process:

  1. Identify the stem: Decide which stems or leaves you want to remove. Look for ones that are overgrown, dead, diseased, or breaking the desired shape of the plant.
  2. Make the cut: Using a clean, sharp pair of pruning shears, cut the chosen stem at a 45-degree angle. The cut should be made close to the base of the stem or the leaf joint.
  3. Clean up: Dispose of the removed plant material to prevent any potential spread of disease.

Recommended Varieties

Japanese Aralia comes in a variety of forms, each with unique characteristics.

  1. Fatsia Japonica ‘Spider’s Web’: This variety has beautiful variegated leaves with a spider web-like pattern. It adds an element of visual interest and contrasts well with other green foliage plants.
  2. Fatsia Japonica ‘Variegata’: The Variegata variety has creamy white margins on the leaves, adding a splash of brightness to any space.
  3. Fatsia Japonica ‘Moseri’: A dwarf variety, the Moseri has a compact growth habit and smaller leaves, perfect for limited spaces.

Common Problems Faced in Care and Maintenance of This plant

  1. Leaf Yellowing or Dropping: This is usually a sign of overwatering. Reduce watering frequency and ensure the plant has good drainage.
  2. Brown Leaf Edges: This can be a sign of low humidity or under-watering. Increase watering frequency or humidity as needed.
  3. Slow Growth or Small Leaves: This may indicate insufficient light or nutrients. Move the plant to a brighter location and check your fertilizing schedule.
  4. Pests or Disease: As mentioned before, Japanese Aralia can be prone to pests like spider mites and diseases like root rot.

Tips For Better Care

The key to Japanese Aralia care lies in balancing its needs and vigilantly watching for signs of stress or disease. Here, we’ll delve into both basic and advanced level tips to help your plant thrive.

Japanese Aralia

Basic Level Tips

  1. Light: Provide bright, indirect light. Too much direct sunlight can scorch the leaves, while too little light can stunt growth.
  2. Water: Water when the top inch of soil feels dry. Overwatering can lead to root rot, a common issue with this plant.
  3. Temperature: Keep your plant in a room with temperatures between 60-80°F (15-27°C). Avoid drafts and sudden temperature changes.
  4. Humidity: Though Japanese Aralia is quite resilient, it prefers higher humidity levels. Mist the leaves regularly or use a pebble tray to increase humidity.

Advanced Level Tips

  1. Fertilization: During the growing season, feed your plant with a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted to half-strength every month.
  2. Pruning: Regularly prune your plant to maintain its shape and encourage bushier growth. This also helps detect any pests or diseases early on.
  3. Propagation: Propagate your Japanese Aralia through stem cuttings in spring or early summer. Ensure the cuttings receive bright, indirect light and consistent moisture while they establish roots.
  4. Pest Control: Inspect your plant regularly for pests like spider mites, mealybugs, and scale insects. Treat any infestations promptly to prevent further damage.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why are the leaves on my Japanese Aralia turning yellow?

Yellow leaves can be a sign of overwatering. Check the soil moisture levels and adjust your watering schedule as needed.

How often should I fertilize my Japanese Aralia?

During the growing season (spring to early fall), feed your Japanese Aralia with a balanced liquid fertilizer once a month. Avoid fertilizing during the winter months when the plant’s growth naturally slows down.

Can Japanese Aralia grow outdoors?

Yes, in warmer climates (USDA zones 8-11), Japanese Aralia can grow outdoors. It makes an excellent plant for adding structure and tropical appeal to shaded areas in the garden.

My Japanese Aralia’s leaves have brown edges, what’s causing this?

Brown leaf edges could be a sign of low humidity or under-watering. Increase your watering frequency and try to boost humidity around your plant.

Is Japanese Aralia toxic to pets?

Yes, Japanese Aralia is considered mildly toxic to cats and dogs. If ingested, it can cause gastrointestinal upset, so it’s best to keep this plant out of reach of pets.

About Christopher Evans

Hello, I'm Chris, the green-thumbed Founder of 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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