What Is Fatsia Japonica?

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A frost-tender landscape plant Fatsia japonica, commonly called Japanese fatsia, fatsia or Japanese aralia, works well as a lush foliage houseplant in frost-prone areas. Fatisa, a Japanese native shrub, grows outdoors in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 through 10. With the right combination of mild climate, moist soil and shade, fatsia thrives indoors or outside.

Large Leaves Add Character

  • Fatsia leaves grow anywhere from 6 to 16 inches across and are this plant's most striking feature. Each leaf has between seven and nine rounded fingerlike lobes and a palm shaped center. The leaves grow at the end of smooth, woody bark-covered stalks. As the leaves overlap on small plants, they lace together, creating a green rounded canopy over the bare inner stalks. As fatsia matures, commonly outdoors where it is allowed to reach its full height, the branching stems elongate while the leaves continue to cluster at the branch tips. This leaves exposed, twisting trunks capped with tufts of large leaves.

A Happy Houseplant

  • The abundant green foliage combined with its ability to thrive indoors where more sun-loving plants would starve for light, makes fatsia a strong candidate as a houseplant. In fall, winter and early spring, keep fatsia in a spot where the temperature remains between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep the soil moist with weekly watering. If the soil dries out, water more often. When you water houseplants, including fatsia, add enough each time that the water filters all the way to the bottom. If it's possible to move the container, set fatsia outdoors for the summer in a shady spot. Always use a container with drainage holes for a fatsia plant.

Indoor vs. Outdoor Characteristics

  • Outdoors in a shady area with moist soil and mild weather, fatsia grows up to 15 feet tall. Indoors, this little shrub remains more consistently around 6 feet tall. The flowers, which are rare to nonexistent on indoor plants, bloom for a few weeks in late fall on fatsia growing outdoors. The rounded clumps of white flowers bloom on stalks above the leaf canopy. A fatsia rarely has problems with pests or diseases.

Cold Tolerant to a Point

  • While sensitive to cold, fatsia can survive some freezing weather and is hardy to about 10 F. In areas prone to frost, grow it in a protected, south-facing spot. Fatsia, which works well as a foliage plant or evergreen hedge, requires part to full shade and moist soil. Make sure to bring a potted fatsia indoors for the winter before the first frost to keep it growing vigorously through the winter.

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