Botanical Name — Polyscias fruticosa
Common Name — Ming aralia
Plant Family — Araliaceae
Polyscias fruticosa or Ming Aralia is a small evergreen shrub native to the tropics of India. They are slow-growing, ultimately reaching one to two meters in height. Ming aralias are widely cultivated in Southeast Asia. Here they are valued for their medicinal properties. Leaves are used in anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial preparations. This plant is also used as a diuretic and to treat rheumatic pains. Aside from its medicinal properties it is widely grown around the world as an ornamental for its lush, evergreen foliage.
- Ming aralia prefers bright indirect light and can tolerate some morning or late afternoon sun. Outdoors it does well in light shade. Indoors, a north, east, or west-facing window would be ideal.
- These plants need warm temperatures and high humidity. Between 60 and 85 ºF is ideal. To improve humidity mist your Ming aralia daily or consider placing your plant near a humidifier.
- Soil for Polyscias fruticosa should be kept lightly moist during the growing season. Water when the soil is dry a quarter deep.
- In the winter, reduce the frequency of watering to about half. Because these plants growth slows down significantly during wintertime, they can tolerate a bit more dryness in the soil. Excessive watering can lead to root rot, so it is best to err on the side of under-watering.
- Ming aralia prefer a nutrient rich, well-draining potting mix, that retains moisture well. A high-quality potting soil would work great. Pumice or perlite are great amendments for improve drainage and aeration, and can be added up to 25%. Coco coir is another amendment, great for improving soil texture and moisture-retention, and should be added up to 25%.
- Polyscias fruticosa produces small inconspicuous flowers on umbels. Flowers bloom in the summer typically, though these plants rarely flower indoors or in cultivation outside of tropical climates.
- Polyscias fruticosa do not require much fertilization. To give old soil a boost of nutrients during the growing season, feed these plants with a balanced fertilizer diluted at half strength, once every other month. Feed during the spring and summer only; cease fertilization during winter.
- Ming aralias propagate reliably from cuttings. Using a clean, sharp blade cut a section of the stem at least 4” long. Cut lower leaves off and place the cutting in soil. Make sure not to bury any leaves as this could lead to rot. While the cutting is rooting keep soil lightly moist but never damp. Cuttings may take several weeks to root.
- Ming aralia plants are not especially susceptible to pests or diseases. Root rot is one of the most common issues and is caused by overwatering. Check your plant regularly for common houseplant pests such as mealybugs, aphids and spider mites.
Maintenance (pruning, legginess, repotting)
- Ming aralias do not require much maintenance. They can be pruned to maintain a specific shape or encourage fullness. They will need to be repotted once every one to two years. Select a pot that is two to three inches larger in diameter to give this plant plenty of room to grow.
- Polyscias fruticosa are mildly toxic plants. Ingestion of leaves can cause gastrointestinal discomfort. Leaves contain a toxic sap that can cause irritation if contacted with skin. Keep this plant out of reach of children and pets.