In The Garden Now …. Japanese Fatsia

Monday, November 30, 2015

Japanese Aralia

Text and photo by Victoria Gilleland

You may not be headed for the warmth and sunshine of a tropical paradise this winter, but you could grow this exotic looking plant in your northwest garden. It really does look like an escapee from some equatorial jungle but, it is actually native to southern Japan and South Korea.

Japanese Fatsia sports shiny evergreen leaves. The leaves may measure 16 inches or more at their widest. In fall, showy clusters of white flowers appear above the foliage. Flowers are followed by black berries which are often eaten by the birds.

This plant makes a dramatic addition to the shade garden where it is usually happiest. If grown in too much sun or in windy conditions the foliage will burn or become damaged. Young plants require moisture to look their best. Once established, I’ve found that they are quite drought tolerant and even grow well under tall trees in full shade with little irrigation.

Large containers can provide a good home for Japanese Aralia. However, during a particularly cold winter roots might freeze and the plant could die. If room is available indoors they make good houseplants. You may see them used in commercial settings as potted plants in the courtyards and lobbies of large office buildings.

This time of year I’m thankful for anything that is flowering in my garden. It is a serious bonus when the flowers are large, showy, and followed by berries. Dramatic tropical looking evergreen foliage doesn’t hurt either. This one’s a winner!

(Botanical Name:  Fatsia japonica)

Victoria Gilleland is the owner of Cottage Garden Designs, a Garden Design company specializing in Redesign of Residential Gardens, Garden Consultation and Coaching. She has been designing gardens in the northwest for over 20 years.


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