The Ming Aralia (Polyscias fruticosa) is an exceptionally small evergreen tree native to the Pacific islands and southeastern Asia. It is commonly planted in containers for ornamental placement indoors, though it can flourish outdoors in USDA Hardiness Zones 10 and 11. The plant is popular among bonsai gardeners for its good response to bonsai growing techniques. However, the Ming Aralia is quite attractive with only minimal care.
The Ming Aralia is famed for its highly ornamental foliage. Several cultivars of the Ming Aralia species are commonly available. Each features slightly different foliage characteristics, including the Parsley Aralia, for example, which features dark green, deeply-lobed leaves reminiscent of the garden herb of the same name. Note that the Ming Aralia’s leaves can cause skin irritation in some people.
The Ming Aralia is primarily sold as a containerized plant. It can be propagated by vegetative cuttings and by separating off suckers to be grown as individual plants. The Ming Aralia is typically potted in a growing medium that has a neutral pH, drains quickly and does not retain heavy moisture. Indoor growing plants can be repotted at any time, while outdoor growers should only be repotted during the warm seasons. The Ming Aralia does not have a particularly extensive root system and can be maintained in relatively small pots throughout their lives.
Watering requirements for the Ming Aralia are minimal. Allow the plant’s growing medium to dry out somewhat between water applications. When you do water the plant, do not flood it. As the plant is a tropical species, it responds well to placement over a humidity tray. To make a humidity tray, lay some ornamental gravel in a low tray, fill it with water to a point below the gravel line, and place the Ming Aralia’s pot onto the top of the gravel.
Feed your Ming Aralia with a granular, controlled release fertilizer. Use a 12-10-10 fertilizer during the growing season, and a 2-10-10 fertilizer over the winter months. Prune your Ming Aralia to maintain a tree shape if you so choose. Pinch back new growth to induce heavier branching.