How to grow: Fatsia japonica

Growing tips

While Fatsia japonica is not completely hardy everywhere in Britain, given a degree of shelter it is remarkably unfussy. Happiest in heavy soil, it will grow well in a variety of soils. It can cope with little or no direct sunlight, and is an excellent choice for that near-sunless corner in a typical urban or suburban garden.

Where root competition is fierce, fatsia will grow happily in a large container. A loam-based compost, such as John Innes no 3, with a little added organic matter suits it well.

Even if neglected, fatsia is a forgiving plant, but growth will be more vigorous in fertile soil with a regular supply of water. It will not, however, perform well if it is asked to tolerate scorching from unrelenting hot sunshine, or from icy, easterly winter winds.

In its variegated form, fatsia is said to be less hardy. I have, however, had a specimen growing against a wall in deep shade in a vast Chinese egg-preserving pot for 10 years without mishap and with little attention. It even survived the move from sheltered-town to more-exposed country garden.

All evergreens have an “autumn” – a period when they off-load their old leaves and, with a large-leafed plant such as fatsia, this can be alarming. From mid to late summer, the lower leaves droop, turn bright yellow and may have to be encouraged to drop off to maintain the plant’s good looks. New leaves and buds will have been produced.

As the plants age, older stems may become gaunt and bare. As new shoots appear from the base, all that is needed is the occasional removal of unsightly branches. This is best done in winter.

As a houseplant, the leaves of F. japonica – especially those of variegated plants – are less robust and cannot tolerate direct midday sun. Plants should be fed monthly in the growing season and watered sparingly in winter.

Specimens from flower or conservatory-plant shops will need a lengthy period of acclimatisation if they are to be grown outdoors. Buy those intended for outdoor planting from garden centres and nurseries.

Good companions

Fatsia looks at its best against stone or brickwork, as a specimen on its own. However, as the fashion for planting tropical gardens takes hold, this plant is worth remembering as a backdrop to other exotica, such as cannas and crocosmias.

It sits well with bamboos and stately grasses, such as the horizontally striped Miscanthus zebrinus. It will always be a reliable workhorse, planted with contrasting evergreens to form a nearly permanent screen in light shade. Try it with Eleagnus ‘Limelight’, or Pittosporum ‘Silver Queen’, or even Choisya ternata. There is room for more than one old hat in most gardens.

Where to buy

Both nurseries offer mail order. Architectural Plants has propagated a superb form with long-fingered leaves, which it is provisionally calling Fatsia ‘Kingston Bus Station’.

Buy 3 RHS award winning Fatsia japonicas for £9.99 or Save £9.98 when double up for just 1p more and get 6 Fatsia for only £10 plus £4.95 P&P. Visit

Fatsia Japonica Variegated

Available Sizes to buy online All Prices Include VAT Height Excluding Pot:
50-60cm (1ft 7-1ft 11)

Plant shape: Spiders Web Variety

Pot size: 10 Litres

Plant ID: 939 64
Click to view photo of this size

Fatsia Japonica Variegated

This image displays plant 50-60 cm tall.

Height Excluding Pot:
50-60cm (1ft 7-1ft 11)

Plant shape: Spiders Web Variety

Pot size: 10 Litres

Plant ID: 939 64
Was £95.00 40% Off – Now £57.00

Was £95.00 40% Off – Now £57.00

Fatsia Japonica Variegata is a stunning architectural foliage shrub with large glossy palmate leaves with a margin of cream coloured variegation. Fastsia Japonica, also known as Japanese Aralia Variegata, is a brilliant evergreen plant for those shady spots in the garden where little else will grow. You will find that Fatsia will enliven even the dullest corners. In the spring it will produce small cream flowers which are loved by bees and other pollinators. Following its flowers, small black fruits develop to provide food for birds in late autumn. Fatsia Japonica Variegata is a hard-working shrub for a wildlife garden.

Fatsia Japonica Variegata looks especially good planted with hardy exotic plants such as hardy palms, phormiums and bamboo. It will grow to around 2-2.5 metres high and spread just as wide but can be cut back to the ground and it will regrow from these. In other words, this plant is easy to get trimmed and shaped to the size you desire.

Even though it loves shady corners, please ensure you enrich the soil with plenty of good organic compost and take measures to keep the compost moist while the plant is establishing itself.

Fatsia Japonica Variegata is a recipient of the Award of Garden Merit by the Royal Horticultural Society, a sure sign that it will perform well in most gardens.
How Hardy Is Fatsia Japonica Variegata
Japanese Aralia Variegata or the Castor Oil Plant, is hardy in most places in the UK down to sub-zero temperatures. It does not like hot, direct sun and is best kept in a shady situation. Some protection from cold drying winds is appreciated.
How To Use Fatsia Japonica Variegata
If you have a shady area, Japanese Aralia Variegata will thrive. Japanese Aralia Variegata will also grow well in a pot. With its exotic good looks, this shrub provides great contrast to bright shrubs and fills a space in the tricky mid-height area.
How To Care For Fatsia Japonica Variegata
Partial shade and moist soil is the best environment for Fatsia Japonica Variegata. They like sand, clay, chalk or loamy soils of any pH. This shrub will thrive in most gardens with little care.
It does not require pruning, but you can remove any damaged leaves or shoots at the base throughout the growing season. A yearly application of mulch around the roots produces brightly coloured shiny variegation.
Keep your Japanese Aralia Variegata moist and shady and it will provide interesting year round colour.

FREQUENTLY BOUGHT WITH >>Fatsia JaponicaTrachycarpus Fortunei – Chusan PalmPhormium TenaxEuonymus Japonicus Bravo

Japanese Aralia

Japanese Aralia

Texture is tops with this evergreen shrub. Its glossy, dark-green, hand-shape leaves add a bold tropical feel to the landscape. Hardy in Zones 8 through 10, Japanese aralia tolerates a light frost and is an excellent shrub for understory color beneath trees or large shrubs. Add it to a foundation planting and enjoy its year-round presence. It is particularly striking when illuminated with landscape lighting at night. Japanese aralia grows well in containers so if you live in an area where it is not hardy, you can grow it as a houseplant, bringing it outside during summer months.

genus name
  • Fatsia japonica
  • Part Sun,
  • Shade
plant type
  • Shrub
  • 3 to 8 feet
  • 5 to 8 feet
flower color
  • White
foliage color
  • Blue/Green
season features
  • Fall Bloom,
  • Winter Bloom
special features
  • Low Maintenance,
  • Good for Containers
  • 8,
  • 9,
  • 10
  • Stem Cuttings

Planting Japanese Aralia

Japanese aralia, also called glossy-leaved paper plant, grows in full shade where many other plants languish. Pair it with other low-light-loving plants to create a garden that is brimming with color and interest. Great planting companions include elephant ear (Colocasia), sweet box (Sarcococca), flowering maple (Abutilon), cast-iron plant (Aspidistra), and bush lily (Clivia). When planted in a container and used as a houseplant and patio plant, Japanese aralia will create a striking display on its own thanks to its bold texture.

Caring for Japanese Aralia

Japanese aralia grows well in part or full shade. Avoid planting it in areas that receive afternoon sun as its leaves will scorch in prolonged direct sun. Plant it in rich, moist soil that is well-drained. Plants growing in containers will thrive in a high quality, humus-rich potting mix. Water plants deeply and regularly during the first growing season to encourage plants to establish a strong root system. Continue watering plants beyond the first growing season as needed during extended dry spells.

Japanese aralia blooms in late fall or winter. It sends up a flower stalk decorated with creamy flowers. Black berries follow the flowers. Plants grown indoors rarely flower. Japanese aralia does not usually require pruning. Remove old, faded foliage to maintain a tidy appearance. Prune plants, if needed, in spring.

Transition container-grown plants outside in spring as soon as the temperatures are regularly above 55ºF at night. Place the plant in a location that receives shade all day or a location that receives a few hours of morning sun. Water plants regularly and fertilize with an all-purpose fertilizer monthly during spring and summer. Bring plants indoors in autumn when temperatures fall below 50ºF.

Fatsia japonica
How to keep them thriving indoors in Melbourne!

Please Note: The information below is specific to this particular plant. For more detailed notes on the general growing conditions required for all indoor plants, check out our ‘Growing Indoor Plants Successfully’ factsheet.

A very useful lush indoor plant. Good for creating a background of green, or when big broad leaves are needed as a contrast to the more common strap shaped leaves or fronds of many indoor plants. Pollution and cold tolerant so a good choice for Melbourne’s inner urban dwellers.

The big leaves transpire heavily in warmer months so keep the water up to prevent wilting. However reduce watering significantly in the cooler months, allow to semi dry out in between watering.

Medium indirect light.

Temperature and Humidity
Normal indoor temperatures are ideal. Does not need humidity.

Apply slow release fertiliser in spring.

Your pot plant should be flushed annually. This process flushes away the salts that build up in the potting mix. To flush the pot, water several times in succession, soaking the pot each time until water runs out of the bottom.

Shower or mist regularly to keep the leaves shiny and dust free.

One of the easiest plants to grow, generally not attacked by pests.

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