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Commonly known as Spikenard, the Aralia has over 70 varieties that range from small potted plants to large trees and shrubs grown in wooded areas in the wild. If you don't like the appearance of one variety of Aralia, there are many others to choose from that are sure to tickle your fancy. Aralia are slow-growing to start, but tend to pick up in growth speed after their first year. Note that, depending on the variety, this plant may be toxic to pets and humans.
Aralia is easy to care for and so unique in appearance that you'll definitely want to add one to your plant collection after learning more about them.
- Botanical Name: Araliaceae
- Common Name: Spikenard, Devil’s Walking Stick, Ming Aralia, and Angelica Tree
- Plant Type: Evergreen trees, perennials, and shrubs
- Mature Size: Varies greatly
- Sun Exposure: Medium to bright light
- Soil Type: Well-draining potting soil/peat mix
- Soil pH: 6.0 to 6.5
- Toxicity: Some varieties are toxic
Although Aralia plants can vary greatly, their care routines are similar and relatively easy to follow. When watering, Aralia like to dry out in between waterings, and then like their soil to be drenched. Before watering, stick your finger in the soil to make sure the top few inches of soil are dry. If they are, then you're ready to water. If they're moist, then wait a few days before testing again.
Best Growing Conditions for Aralia
Although they might not like to be watered frequently, Aralias love humidity, so they will be happy with a daily mist. To help create a humid environment for your plants, you can either add a humidifier or group them together so that they create their own little ecosystem of humidity. If you notice yellow leaves, you're likely overwatering. By contrast, shedding or wilting leaves indicates underwatering.
Aralia can tolerate medium light, but they prefer direct sunlight. Pick the sunniest spot in your room, and your Aralia will be happiest there.
Types of Aralia
There are over 70 varieties of Aralia and they vary greatly in size and appearance. California spikenard (Aralia californica) is one of the most common types of Aralia. It's also known as elk clover and can be identified by its wistful white flowers. This type of Aralia is native to California and parts of Oregon and can grow to heights of 4 to 9 feet.
Angelica tree (Aralia elata) is another common type of Aralia. It's also known more specifically as the Japanese angelica tree, the Chinese angelica tree, or the Korean angelica tree. It can present in the form of a tree or shrub and reach heights of about 33 feet. This tree produces fruit and its shoots are frequently used in regional dishes.
Devil’s walking stick (Aralia spinosa) is a woody variety of Aralia, but its berries are not something you'll want to ingest, as the seeds are mildly toxic.
Fatsia japonica (Aralia sieboldii) is a popular houseplant variety of Aralia. Its bushlike features reach a spread of 3 to 8 feet, and white flowers make it an interesting addition to your houseplant collection.
Ming aralia (Polyscias fruticosa) is a popular houseplant that can be kept indoors or outdoors and can come in small sizes or grow 6 to 8 feet tall, depending on its species and growing conditions.
How to Propagate Aralia
If you want to create several new, semi-mature plants consider using propagation. Your best bet is to do so in the fall. Aralia cannot be easily propagated in water, so it's best to propagate by soil. Aralia can be propagated through several methods. Here’s how:
Propagation by Soil
Step 1: To start, you'll need potting mix and a small pot.
Step 2: When attempting to propagate Aralia, take an approximately 8-inch cutting. Make sure the cutting features a few leaves for good measure before placing it in the soil. Root it in the potting mix.
Step 3: Transplant your hopefully rooted cutting outside in the spring, or continue to enjoy it in its small pot until it grows large enough to be repotted.
Common Problems With Aralia
Aralia is easy to grow and care for, but there are a few common problems you'll want to watch out for.
Aralia's roots are fragile, so your main priority is to not let its roots sit in soggy or moist soil—another reason why you should let the soil dry out completely in between waterings.
Aralia also tends to have a problem with mealybugs. If you're noticing a white cottony substance on your Aralia's leaves, it's time to take action. There are several ways to rid your plant of mealybugs, the simplest being placing neem oil on a cotton swab and wiping the backs and fronts of the leaves.
Potting and Repotting Aralia
Aralia can be repotted every two to three years. When repotting Aralia, pick a container that is only slightly bigger, around 1 to 2 inches, since Aralia prefer to be snug in their pots.
For best results when potting, pick a container that offers a drainage hole, as well as a peat-based potting mix that will set up your Aralia for success.
Are Aralia Easy to Care For?
Yes, Aralia are low-maintenance houseplants that require little specialized care.
How Fast Does Aralia Grow?
Aralia plants are generally slow-growing.
Can Aralia Grow Outdoors?
Certain varieties can be grown outdoors in shade or indirect sunlight.
Rey, Laura. Research Guides: IEATPLANTS Digital Laboratory: Toxic Plants. Texas A&M University Libraries.
Aralia Spinosa. North Carolina State University Extension.
Frank, Steven. Mealybugs Entomology Insect Notes. NC State Extension Publications.