Botanical Name: Dizygotheca elegantissima
False Aralia has slender leaflets that grow in a circle at the tops of stems so that they look like fingers, giving this house plant another common name: Finger Aralia.
New coppery brown foliage turns a dark, blackish-green as the plant matures. Its narrow, serrated leaflets give this small tree a lacy appearance, making it a graceful addition to a collection of tropical house plants.
Leaf drop. Dizygotheca likes to stay put. Moving it to a new location may cause its leaves to drop. Shedding leaves may also indicate that humidity is too low. Mist the plant every morning or stand the pot on a tray of wet pebbles. Misting also helps to prevent spider mites that may invade this plant.
Pruning. False Aralia is slow-growing and doesn't need pruned unless you want to control its height. Over time, it will drop its lower leaves, revealing a single tree-like trunk. If you want, you can keep it short and shrubby by cutting it back each year. Don't be afraid to prune it to 6 inches (15 cm) from the soil level. Spring is the best time to cut it back. New offsets will grow from the base of the plant.
Repotting. Repot in spring only when it has outgrown its pot, but use the smallest container that will hold its roots. It grows best when its roots are confined. Taller plants should be potted in a heavy container to prevent toppling.
Dizygotheca elegantissima is sometimes sold as Finger Aralia or Spider Aralia. It's well-worth seeking out. With good care, it's a long-lived plant and a striking accent.
Small plants look gorgeous in dish gardens, adding an upright palm-like form to the grouping. Put one with other tropical plants that like humidity, such as heartleaf philodendron or nerve plant. Seedlings will thrive in a terrarium under fluorescent light.
Origin: South Pacific
Height: This Pacific Island native can grow to 20 ft (6 m) in the wild, but indoors this tree will slowly reach about 6 ft (1.8 m).
Light: Bright light, no direct sun. Too much sun exposure may cause leaf edges to turn brown.
Water: Water thoroughly and allow top 1 in (2.5 cm) of soil to dry out between waterings. Wilted leaves are a sign of overwatering.
Humidity: Moderate to high humidity.
Temperature: Keep plant warm (65-85°F/18-29°C) year-round. Do not expose it to temperatures below 60°F/16°C, which can cause leaf drop.
Soil: All-purpose house plant potting mix
Fertilizer: Feed every 2 weeks with a balanced liquid fertilizer (such as 10-10-10) diluted by half. In fall and winter, feed monthly.
Propagation: Seeds or stem tip cuttings. Take stem tip cuttings in spring. For best results, dip cut end in hormone rooting powder before inserting in moist potting mix. Cover with a plastic bag to raise the humidity around the cutting. Keep it warm and out of direct sunlight.