U.S.A., Washington State. USDA zone 8a. Sunset climate zone 5

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Aralia blooming

Click on the pictures to enlarge them

Aralia (Fatsia japonica) is one of my favorite plants.

I have three of them. They are planted in different parts of my garden. Which one grows the best?The first one grows in a shady place near the house.

It gets some sheltered morning sun and is protected from the wind by tall firs and the row of arborvitae.
Here it is, on the pictures above and below.

The second plant grows in front of the house and gets a lot of morning sun. Although it's standing not far from the wall, it is open to the winds.
The third plant is located on the border close to the fir trees. It also gets some morning sun. The worst is that its roots have to compete with conifers' roots for space, nutrients and water.
Did you guess which plant is the happiest? If you think the first one, you are right. It's the biggest and the most bushy of all of them. Its leathery leaves are huge and glossy.

It blooms every year profusily in late summer and fall.
The plant in front of the house has plenty of space, moisture and nutrients. Last year, it was the same size as the aralia under the conifers.

Notice the roof above the plant #2!

Wind never caused any damage to it.
Nevertheless, it suffered the most during the last winter' snow storms. Suffered from what? The danger came from above. It got blasted by heavy snow that accumulated on the roof and slid down when the days got warmer.

This is how it looked last spring:

Ouch! Poor plant! But wait! Although being badly damaged, it proved to be a survivor.
It fully recovered and looked good last summer.

Aralia blooms are beautiful.
Small creamy white flowers create compound umbels 12 inches (30 sm) or more across. They remind me of snowflakes:

I love Aralia for its tropical look, architectural habit and late display of flowers. They say it's susceptible to fungal and bacterial leaf spots, mealybugs, scale insects, spider mites and whiteflies. Luckily, my plants have been healthy and free from these problems so far.
It's recommended to grow Aralia in fertile, well-drained soil in full sun or light, dappled shade and to shelter it from cold, drying winds.
I wouldn't say that my plants grow in very fertile soil, but the best performer, plant #1, has dappled shade and is better protected from winds than two other plants.
Originated in Eastern Asia, Aralia does well in the Pacific Northwest. I can not grow many tropicals here. That is why I value Aralia for giving me a tropical look and being hardy.

Aralia can be grown as a house plant. I used to have an attractive Variegated Aralia "Spider Web" - a rare form with variable speckled and splashed variegation on large glossy leaves.

We bought it during one of the NW flower and garden shows. I made a mistake and set it outside in a shade while we went on a trip. I thought it would be safer since a teenage girl was supposed to look after my plants. Well, she did. But, she badly overwatered it, and it died.

To end this post on a positive note, this is one more picture of Aralia's bloom:

***Copyright 2009 TatyanaS
contemporary art


  1. The tiny blooms are pretty! Despite the damage it bounced back soon, what a fighter!
    I love the shot of your house with the fir trees. And the ones with the black background are superb!

  2. I love the structure of this plant ... it has great form and size and works beautifully in all the places you grow it. This is just the sort of plant that I need to compete with all the thugs in my garden. Your photos are lovely.Carol

  3. Thanks for showcasing this plant, Tatyana. I have always thought of it as a houseplant rather than an outdoor plant here, but my son in Asheville has one outside in the shady part of his garden and it is thriving. I love the flower form and the tropical look. So sorry about the fancy one, it looked quite pretty.


  4. The tiny flowers are so pretty. It is even white to match the winter season. Your house and garden is beautiful, especially during winter. A snowman will complete the picture.

  5. Tatyana your garden is so lovely and green in these pictures!

  6. The leaves are very interesting! I think my parents used to grow this in CA. It looks familiar. Very nice photos, and I am sorry that one of them died under that girl's care. She probably thought she was helping so much!

  7. Most impressive plant here. Your gardens/yard are so beautiful and clean!

  8. Very informative post, Tatyana. Everything always looks so neat and tidy at your house.

    Also, have you changed the account types you're allowing for comments? Since I don't have a blogger account, I usually use the OpenID Name/ULR option, but it's no longer available on your blog and I've been unable to leave comments on the past 3 posts because my WordPress OpenID won't work.

    Trying a different approach this time and just letting you know in case others have the same problem.

  9. Thank you Kanak, Carol, Sweet Bay, Autumn Belle, Frances, Darla!
    The Sorrygardener, I had my comments setting on Registered Users&Open ID. Didn't know that it was a problem. Now, I'm setting it back to Everyone (I used it before spam started to come). Thank you for telling me!

  10. Very pretty. I am coming back tonight to read the post, rushing off again.

    But I wanted to let you know that your comment is encountering a BX error problem with Blogger, and nothing will let me publish it, not for love or money. Let's hope that Blogger fixes that one soon.


  11. Just to look at it you would think it was a tender plant and not stand up to cold conditions. It must be tough to stand up to the snow so its looks are deceiving. It does have delicate little flowers. Really pretty.

    Your garden beds look so clean and nice.

  12. Again, you have shown me something that I think I should add to my yard ...

  13. Hi Tatyana

    I know these plants well. I always used to admire them as I walked to my office in London. They seemed to thrive in the small front gardens and the micro climate and got quite big, possibly 8 or 9 feet tall like a bushy small tree.

  14. Hello Tatyana,

    I think we had Aralia planted in front of the home I grew up in in Southern California. It was tucked back in the shade and I remember the leaves looking the same. I don't remember it blooming, but then I was a teenager at the time and way too self-centered to notice much around me ;^)

  15. Fantastic shots..I love the one with dark backdrop..awesome! Great informative post it!!

  16. Танюша, красивая очень эта самая Аралия)И фото как всегда класс) У нас такая красотища не растет...

  17. Beautiful flowers on this plant Tatyana. I was thinking all the way thru that it looked like something I'd have to keep as a houseplant then you said that as well! Your posts are always so thorough. I love how you showed it last winter, then with the snow damage, etc. If it's blooming now, it's definitely a late bloomer!

  18. I think Fatsia is a really nice large leaf plant. Your photos of the flower is really nice, especially the last one. In the Botanical Garden in our area there is a Hedera Fatsia cross bred plant. Really neat looking. Not sure if it has the lovely blooms like yours.
    Good to know if a large pile of snow were to fall the Fatsia would survive!

  19. Lovely photos ... I can see why you love it, Tatyana. If happy in my garden, I would love it also :)

  20. Well this is exciting news! I just planted one late this summer and I did not know that it bloomed let alone when. The flowers are very pretty indeed. You took some wonderful pictures of it. I have mine in an experimental location and am keeping a close eye on how it does. Half of my garden is in a weird sun shade zone that I just have to try things out in. So far it seems to be doing well. Thanks for the post today and for teaching me something new. :-D

  21. It is just beautiful! I don't remember seeing it grow outside here before, mostly in greenhouses or as a houseplant. It has such a nice shape and the flowers are snowflake like. I'd never thought about the dangers of snow falling from the roof before, glad yours survived.
    I enjoyed seeing more pictures of your garden too! :)

  22. Tatyana, I love the large glossy foliage of the Fatsia and had it as a house plant many many yearz ago. I think it would do well in our garden except that it likes moisture and we are extremely stingy with our water. ;) so I'll just look at yours

  23. I can see why you like it so much! I love the blooms...very unique.

  24. Thank you Rosey, Noelle, Rob, SoNa, JC, Jen, Lona, Kiki, Kathleen, LeSan, Joey, Janet, Amy, Di, Catherine! Fatsia is not fussy at all and beautiful - what else do we need from a plant? I'm glad you like it! Rosey, I needed to instruct that helper better. You know teenage girls better than me. You try to explain something, and they look at you as like you teach them to breath. So, I guess I believed that she knew how to take care of a houseplant.
    Rob, you are right - bushy little trees. The plant #1 already stretches its branches above the stepping stones.I might need to move the stones further from it, or to clip the branches.
    LeSan, the good thing is we can move them!
    Catherine, it should grow well in your area. I think we have similar conditions.

  25. Love your snowflake aralia. The plant does have nice form and nice timing for its blooms--just when the other blooms are fading. Great plant.

  26. Hi Tatyana~~ I saw my first Fatsia at the Portland zoo years ago. More interested in the flora than the fauna, it was lust at first sight. My friend gave me the lowdown and it catapulted to the top of my wish list. I've got a six-plus footer in my shady courtyard. It gets very little summer water but enough, apparently. Another plant is in a container where it's also thriving. I've never had an inkling of a bug problem with mine. Great minds think alike, friend. The fabulous Fatsia!! [Although mine get too much shade to bloom. Can't have everything.]

  27. What a pretty plant that is. I don't think it would do well here in upstate NY, but I will look into it. It is really like a snowflake. Sort of reminds me of Aliums.

  28. Wow! I've never seen this plant before. So interesting. What zone will grow in? I'm thinking zone 6 where I live would be too cold.

  29. Thank you Mary Delle, Grace, Teresa!
    Jackie, they say zones 7-10 (Other sources say 8-10). I read on some forum that it'll survive in zone 6 if you mulch it heavily for winter. Ed Hume, our NW garden guru, wrote that his plant froze once to the ground, but came back.

  30. Well, here's another plant I've added to my "must have" list, a list that is growing rapidly since I joined blotanical! Beautiful plant!

  31. This plant is one that many zone pushers are planting in their garden because it is actaully quite hardy. I may try one at my new house, who knows, lol. I still check into your blog... I just don't always comment here lately.


  32. Coming to think of it - I have no idea if I've ever seen Fatsia used in South Africa. I know it from the UK. I need more big leaved plants in some of my borders... I'm going to search around for it!

  33. Fantastic shots. I really like your post about the Aralia. here I can only have it indoors.

    Have a great day and thanks for visiting me too


  34. Great photos, I especially like the ones with the black background. Your garden looks so pretty with snow.

  35. I can see why you are so taken with this plant, Tatyana! Its foliage would be enough of a winning point with me, but the flowers add another dimension. I would never have thought of snow falling from the roof as a danger to plants...hmmm, I'd better watch mine this winter.

  36. Nice blooms! They remind me of the 'Jetsons' - very spacey.

  37. I love that fatsia! Great post, Tatyana, and I learned so much. I have a houseplant that we call 'false aralia' that is very pretty, but I have never seen it bloom, and the leaves are not the large tropical looking foliage of your aralia.

    Thanks for sharing.

  38. It is a great architectural plant indeed! I think the flowers look like snowflakes too.

    I have an azalea that grows at the edge of an eave, and during the winter it gets bombarded with icicles. For an azalea, that's OK, because it prunes it into an interesting shape!

  39. aloha tatyana, i loved having those aralias when i lived in sonoma county, they were such a hardy subtropical plant...but here in hawaii they grow to be trees, just like the scheflerias. they are very beautiful when they bloom, you captured them well in photos.



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