House Plants/Aralis


QUESTION: I got the plant Aralia as a gift. I have it in my living room on a coffee table because it says low light. Then it says water it and keep it evenly moist. When I water it a little bit at a time it looks good. I don't want to over water. But when the leave are showing a little drooping is it over water or not enough. some of the older bigger leaves on the bottom half are yellowing. I don't want to lose this. so how much water should I give it it isn't that tall. or should I put it closer to the window and in what window south, east.? Temp in the house is 68
is this ok too?
thank you for your time.

ANSWER: Alisa,

Aralia is a low-maintenance houseplant, aralias require little specialized care and fare best in warm, humid rooms. That would be 70 degrees or above and if you are in a cold area with the heat on the humidity can be difficult and low humidity can be the cause of yellow leaves. Aralias are prone to infestation by various insects, so inspect them regularly for signs of bugs.

No matter the species, aralia plants need light to mimic the tropical climate of their native Polynesia. Though they will survive under low light as they long as they have moist soil, but they do best in medium or full sun when grown indoors. Close to an east or south window indoors is perfect. They should be planted in shady areas if placed outside. Aralias prefer temperatures between 60 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit, so keep them inside or move them indoors during the winter.

The thin, fine roots of aralias are subject to rot, so allow the upper half of the soil to thoroughly dry out between waterings. If you are only giving it small amounts of water it may never be reaching the lower roots and could be causing your yellow leaves. If grown under low light, they may need water just once or twice a month, so monitor the soil carefully. To monitor water closely insert a bamboo skewer into the soil all the way to the bottom of the pot and cut it off 1/2 inch above the soil line with scissors or wire cutters. When you think the plant needs water pull the skewer out and see if the top half of the skewer is dry. If it is not put the skewer back in the pot and wait afew days and check again. If it is dry give it enough water so all the soil in the pot gets moist and some of the water goes into the drain tray. An hour later empty all the water out of the drain tray so the plant is not sitting in water. That would rot those fine roots. You should only need to water it once a week or less.

When growing aralias, use a light, peat-based potting soil with lots of perlite in it and keep the plant in a small pot as a precaution against overwatering. This type of soil allows for proper aeration and drainage, preventing the plant's roots from becoming waterlogged. Feed aralias with a granular, controlled-release fertilizer with a high nitrogen content every other month. Prune the tips of aralia plants to promote the growth of new leaves and to help maintain its full, lush appearance.

Unfortunately, aralias are at risk of infestation by spider mites, aphids, mealybugs and scale insects. To keep mites at bay, prune and discard infested parts of the plant and rinse the aralia in the shower, washing away bugs. Scale insect can also be controlled by pruning and, for outdoor aralias, introduce natural predators like lacewings and ladybugs. For aphids, introduce parasitic wasps. Both ladybugs and parasitic wasps will help keep mealybugs away, as will commercial pesticides.  If you have more questions write again. Good luck!!


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you. for your feedback. I did what you said. Also put the pot on stones and marbles to keep pot away from the water. Once in a while there is a leaf with little brown spots. I pinch those off. I bought the bamboo skewers and water when the dirt dries out. Lately the weather in Niagara Falls Ny has been cold so the heat is on and it dries it out sooner then 4 days What do you think.


Continue to water it thoroughly whenever the skewer is dry at least half way down. Always water it thoroughly and always wait until the skewer is half dry. Putting it up on stones and keeping the tray full of water will help make it more humid around it.  That was a good ideaa just so it can't soak up more water to rot the roots.  Good luck!


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Darlene K. Kittle


I have been an Advanced Master Gardener for 24 years and I raise around 300 houseplants and bonsai trees a year including tropicals, succulents, and cacti. I have also been a professional plant care person for businesses in the Fort Wayne, IN area and currently professionally care for bonsai trees for my customers.


I am also studying the Japanese art of bonsai with tropical plants and is President of the Fort Wayne, IN Bonsai Club.

Fort Wayne, iN Master Gardeners. President of the Fort Wayne Bonsai Club. Allen County Master Gardeners

I am not a hortculturist. I am a Purdue University Advanced Master Gardener for 24 years. I have studied plants on a personal level by growing hundreds of plants annually for the last 35 years. I have also studied under several nationally known American Bonsai experts.

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