How to Grow, Cultivate and Cut Fatsia Japonica

Botanical  Name: Aralia Sieboldii or Aralia Japonica or Fatsia Japonica

Common Name : Fatsia

The approaching festive season and long dark evenings are synonyms with candle lit dinners till late at night. However, if you have little children or if for any other reason you prefer not to use candles; I have a flower alternative that will leave no odours or drips and needs no safety precautions. Only one stem is needed to look similar to a candelabra; just remember to leave some dim background lighting for the same romantic dinner effect. The flower I am referring to is from the shrub Fatsia Japonica. I brought it into my home this week and thoroughly enjoyed its calming presence.


Flower of the week from YOUR garden to YOUR table:   22nd – 28th Nov.

fatsia japonica growing in my allotment

Another name for this plant is Caster Oil Plant but more commonly called the ‘False Caster Oil Plant’ as the real caster oil plant is a totally different (poisonous) plant. The Fatsia is commonly sold as a potted house plant, it has deeply lobed, shiny evergreen  leaves and is an excellent specimen plant for the home. Variegated forms with lemon coloured edging of the leaves are also easy to find.

A few years ago I used a few fatsia plants for a live plant floral display in the middle of summer. After the display the shrubs and flowering plants were sold off for a charitable cause. Being summertime, people tend to look for flowering colourful plants which will give instant colour to their garden, these were all sold right away, whilst the foliage plants found no punters. I took the two small fatsia plants home with me, one took up residence in my garden and one in my allotment. Both have been thriving ever since.

How to Plant and Cultivate Fatsia Outdoors

Text books claim that the fatsia is not fully hardy, but I have had no problem, other then a hard frost killing off a little of the top growth. I think a common mistake is to plant them out in the autumn like most other shrubs. Having not yet been acclimatised to the outdoors they will succumb to the winter weather, but as I planted mine during the summer they got accustomed to the outdoor climate and can now take whatever the weather throws at them.

They are a superb candidate for a Northern wall – I have one on the Northern side of my poly tunnel where it hardly receives any sunshine. The shrub will only begin to flower after it reaches a height of around 1 metre.  If left unpruned it will rise to 2 or 3 metres but there is no need to let it take over your garden –  it can be hard pruned at any time .

How to Cut Fatsia Flowers for an Indoor Display

fatsia japonica in vaseThe fingered leaves are a flower arrangers paradise and I often remove some leaves for a floral display. The young leaves during summer are not yet  seasoned and quickly droop in a vase but  the leaves that are cut after autumn are very long lasting in water, and make a fantastic backdrop for any floral display. Avoid taking the leaves from the bottom of the fatsia plant as these will not regrow, instead pinch out the growing tips which will induce bushiness. Sometimes the plant itself will shed some of its lower leaves during the summer and will regrow buds in their place. The candelabra flowers grow from  November through January and look remarkable in a vase, especially when using the leaves as a background. They do not last that long indoors but definitely longer then a bunch of tealights!



About The Author

Boris inherited his green fingers from his mother, who was still planting potatoes and rhubarb in the sixties as she was afraid that they would once again be rationed. As a teenager he used to plant radishes in the corner of the school garden and sell them during break time for sixpence, to give his classmates a healthy crunchy snack. He and his wife both have had an allotment for years, but there is no competition – he does the planting and she does the harvesting and cooking. With a passion for growing anything edible, Boris has planted dozens of named fruit trees in his orchard. Nevertheless he is an avid flower arranger, and assists local communities and charities with his flower arrangements. Boris tells us that after so many years on the allotment he has made all the mistakes possible, and he will share with you his practice to make yours perfect!

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