Saturday, April 1, 2017

Japanese Aralia Is Very Satisfying

Japanese Aralia - Fatsia japonica

Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778) might have had Ara the Beautiful, King of Armenia (c. 800 BC) in mind when he named Aralia. According to ancient legend, Ara was so desirable that Queen Semiramis of Assyria wanted him madly. She must have been quite a woman. Many cultural advances of ancient Persia were ascribed to her. Nevertheless, Ara preferred his wife, so refused her advances. Furious, she declared war on Armenia to capture him alive. Alas, Ara died in battle. Semiramis remained semi-satisfied.

Flowers of Japanese Aralia
Japanese Aralia (Fatsia japonica), a member of the Araliaceae family including other awesome plants, is also known as Fatsia. It is big, bold, glossy and handsome. Large, palmate (like the palm of a hand), evergreen leaves with wide lobes (like fat fingers) lend an exotic appearance to the landscape. Foliage may be deep green to variegated, depending upon the variety. Small white flowers in big umbel (umbrella-like) clusters appear late fall to early winter. Japanese Aralia may grow to 18 feet, though the average mature height is around 8 feet.

Japanese Aralia can be grown in partial shade to full shade in Zones 7 to 9.  Gardeners in Zone 7 should plant it in a protected area and provide extra mulch during winter. Gardeners in Georgia’s higher elevations can easily grow it indoors for its handsome foliage. Loamy, well-drained soil with pH ranging from 6.1 to 7.8 is best. Pests and diseases are few, and usually of little concern. Plants are drought-tolerant when established and deer-resistant. For a bold, beautiful appearance in your southern landscape, Japanese Aralia is very satisfying.

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