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We got this plant (not know what it is) about 1.5 months ago (due to office relocation/downsizing). We put it in the living room (bright but no direct sunlight). I watered it one to two times a week. Then its leaves started to fall off. I noticed there's excess water at bottom and the stalks can be easily tilted back and forth in the soil. We reduced the water and moved the plant to the deck with direct sun (we are in Connecticut). It got worse -- a stalk turn totally brown, the other leaves turned from dark green to light green.

I just found out this afternoon this could be a Ming aralia. I'm afraid of the root rotting and hope to save it with your help.

It's about 4 ft tall and sitting in a 13" pot (with only about 7" deep of soil). What can I do to save the it? Where should I put it (with or without direct sun light? We have a north facing and a south facing window glass door/windows)? How often should I water it? Do I need to add more soil or add support to root/stalk?

Thank you very much!


Hi Dan,

I can tell from the photos that your Ming Aralia was not properly cared for prior to your acquiring it. The very thin stems reveal that for a long time it did not receive adequate light. In addition, it was never pruned properly. The loose, leaning main stems indicate root rot that may have occurred before you took it over.

Very loose, wobbly stems that pull up out of the soil easily should be removed entirely. Likewise, any main stems that have no leaves at all. Then, prune back any remaining stems that have long bare sections with foliage only at the tip ends. Your goal is to get it back to being a smaller, more compact plant. You cannot do any damage by pruning as pruning only alters a plant's appearance, not its health.

Move the plant to the south facing window, but keep it inside. Do not add any soil or change the pot because the roots are very fragile right now. Allow the top inch of soil to dry before adding just enough water so that a bit trickles through into a saucer. Do not leave it sitting in water for more than half a day.

It will take time for your plant to recover, assuming the roots have not already rotted badly. Expect some continued but gradually reduced leaf loss. Look for signs of healthy new growth emerging from the stems just below where you pruned them. Patience is required and fertilizer or other promising shortcuts will not help.

I have written detailed articles on pruning and on Ming Aralia care that I will email for free to you (or anyone else) who emails a request to me at I have also written an indoor plant care book in a PDF format that I can sell you if you contact me at my email address.

Please let me know if any of this is unclear or if you have any additional questions.

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Will Creed


I am the only expert in this category with professional hands-on experience and knowledge of all indoor plants. I can answer questions regarding light, water, fertilizer, repotting, pruning and humidity and temperature requirements. I can identify plant pests and provide information on safe, effective treatments. My answers are based on 35 years of professional experience and scientific research and are clear and easy to understand. I do NOT use search engines to find answers to your questions. If you read my previous posts here, you will get a good idea as to how thorough and professional my answers are.


I have over 35 years of professional indoor landscaping experience caring for plants in homes, offices, building lobbies, stores, restaurants, and other adverse environments. I have written extensively on the care of indoor plants, including a 260 page book. My specialties include Ficus trees, low light plants, repotting, pest control, and re-blooming holiday plants. Be sure to check my ratings and nominations to learn why I am the top-rated indoor plant expert. I am the only House Plant expert consistently ranked in the AllExperts Top 20.

BA, Amherst College

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