Botanical Name: Polyscias fruticosa
Ming aralia only looks fussy. Its stems carry compound leaves made up of several leaflets, giving the fancy, finely cut foliage an elegant quality you'd expect from a high-maintenance plant.
Fortunately for us, this tropical native is extremely adaptable to most homes.
Put it in full sun -- or indirect light. It's quite happy just about anywhere. Keep this aralia plant warm, though. It doesn't like cold temperatures at all. (Who can blame it?)
Prune. Ming aralia has an upright habit and won't grow very tall. Over time, it will drop its lower leaves, revealing a gnarled tree-like trunk. If you want, you can keep it short and shrubby by cutting it back every spring. You'll make it even more beautiful with regular pruning. Prune off the growing tips to encourage branching and denser foliage. Trimming Ming aralia bonsai plant will keep it at 1 ft (30 cm) or less.
Repot in spring only when it has outgrown its pot. Use the smallest pot that will hold its roots -- aralias grow best when their roots are confined. Pot taller plants in a heavy container to prevent toppling. Mings are easily killed by overwatering, so use a pot with a drainage hole.
Leaf drop. If your Ming suddenly starts shedding leaves, don't panic. Some leaf drop is normal. Is it growing new leaves at the stem tips? If so, this is just part of the normal growth. A sudden change in light, such as moving your plant to a shadier location, may cause leaf drop. Give it as much light as you can. Raising the humidity around it can help, too.
Problems with this plant are few. It even seems to shrug off pests. Keep this tropical plant warm and don't overwater -- and you'll enjoy it for many years.
If you're looking for a beautiful floor plant, give Ming aralia a try. But be warned, this easy-care house plant just may spoil you for anything else.
Height: Up to 3 ft (90 cm); can be grown as a bonsai tree.
Light: Aim for bright light, though it will tolerate varying levels from low light to full sun.
Water: Water thoroughly and allow top 2 in (5 cm) of soil to dry out between waterings. Overwatering is a sure way to kill it. Mings have fine roots and are prone to root rot, so when in doubt, keep it on the dry side. Also cut back on water in the winter when growth has slowed.
Humidity: Moderate to high humidity. If the air is dry, mist the plant every morning or stand the pot on a tray of wet pebbles.
Temperature: Average room temperatures 65-85°F/18-29°C. It can take warmer temperatures, but don't expose it to anything below 60°.
Soil: Peat moss-based potting mix with perlite added for good drainage.
Fertilizer: Feed monthly spring through fall with a balanced liquid fertilizer (such as 10-10-10) diluted by half. Young leaves that are yellowish-green are caused by a lack of nutrients.
Propagation: Take 4 in (10 cm) stem tip cuttings in late spring or summer. Cut just below a leaf node (the place where the leaf attaches to the stem) and remove the lower leaves from the cutting. For best results, dip cut end in hormone rooting powder before inserting in moist potting mix. Cover with a plastic bag to hold in the humidity. Keep as warm as possible and out of direct sunlight. It can take a few weeks to root, so be patient.
Mings are slow-growing, but if growth seems to have stopped, it may be time to repot or fertilize.
You'll find Ming aralia for sale by its common name, although other types of aralia plants are sometimes labeled with the same name. Look for Polyscias fruticosa to be sure you're getting this plant.
It's well-worth seeking out. With good care, this aralia is a long-lived plant and a lush, graceful accent for your home.
Polyscias fruticosa is one of about 80 species in the Polyscias genus.
They belong to the Aralia family (Araliaceae) that includes ginseng and false aralia.