Propagating Fatsia From Seed: When And How To Plant Fatsia Seeds


By: Mary Ellen Ellis

Although growing a shrub from seed may seem like a longwait, fatsia(Fatsia japonica), grows rather quickly. Propagating fatsia from seedwon’t take as long to get a full-size plant as you may think. It will growespecially fast if given the most ideal conditions, that of partialshade and moistsoil. Read on to learn about planting fatsia seeds.

About Fatsia Plants

Fatsia is a shrub native to Japan. It has a tropicalappearance with bold, large leaves that are shiny and dark green. Fatsia grows 8to 12 inches (20-30 cm.) per year and ultimately up to 10 feet (3 m.) tall andwide.

In warm climates such as the southeastern U.S., fatsia makesa pretty ornamental and is an evergreen. Grow it in moist, rich soil that drainswell and in areas with dappled shade for best results.

You can also grow fatsia in containers or indoors.Transplanting is stressful for this shrub, so consider trying fatsia seedpropagation.

How to Plant Fatsia Seeds

Fatsia doesn’t respond well to transplanting and, whilecuttings can be used, seed propagation is the main way that the plant is grown.To start planting fatsia seeds, you must first collect the seeds from the blackberries of a fatsia shrub or order some online. If collecting your own seeds,you will need to soak the berries and crush them to get the seeds from them.

Starting seeds indoors or in a greenhouseis best that way you won’t have to consider when to sow fatsia seeds outdoors,where conditions can be too variable. Plant the seeds in rich potting soil,adding compostif necessary.

Use warming mats under the starter pots, as fatsia seedsrequire bottom heat of around 80 F. (27 C.). Add a little water to the soil andcover the tops of pots with plastic wrap to keep seeds and soil warm and moist.

Water as needed, about every few days. You should see theseeds germinate in two to four weeks. Remove the plastic wrap once theseedlings emerge from the soil but keep the warming mat on for another week ortwo.

Transplant 3-inch (7.6 cm.) seedlings to larger pots andkeep them warm. You can transplant seedlings outside to their permanent bedsonce the soil outdoors has reached at least 70 F. (21 C.).

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Fatsia Japonica Overview

Official Plant NameFatsia Japonica
Common Name(s)Japanese Aralia
Plant TypeShrub
Native AreaJapan
Hardiness RatingH5
ToxicityNone
FoliageEvergreen, palmate lobed leaves
FlowersSmall white flowers
When To SowApril, May, June, September
Flowering MonthsSeptember
When To PruneJune
Sunlight

Preferred
Any

Exposure
Sheltered

Height
2.5 – 4M

Spread
2.5 – 4M

Bloom Time
September

Preferred
Most Soil Types

Moisture
Moist but well drained

Also referred to as the Fig Leaf Plant or (wrongly) the False Castor Oil Plant, Fatsia Japonica – as its name suggests – originated in Japan (and South Korea). And, although it wasn’t introduced to Britain until the 19th century, gardeners here have made up for it since.

Much beloved of such TV gardening celebs as Alan Titchmarsh, the plant is very popular in Britain and highly praised for both its exotic looks and its toughness. This hardy garden favourite is even fine with snow – provided the powder is brushed off its leaves after the odd heavy flurry.

Fatsia Japonica has large green, shiny, leather-like leaves. When it’s flowering, the plant produces clusters of ball-like, white blooms at the tips of stems. It can actually grow to as high as 10 ft tall, but the usual bush height is approximately six ft high.

Fatsia Japonica Spiders Web has lovely white marks towards the edges of the leaves, giving the impression, from a distance, of a spun web.

Once you start researching, you’ll find Fatsia Japonica has many varieties. Some of the most popular include Variegata, Spider’s Web, Annelise and Moseri.And here’s a quick run-down of them here:

  • Variegata is a pretty plant which includes small blackberries as well as blooms. It will grow up to eight ft tall and produce large green leaves with cream edges. It’s mostly used for indoors these days.
  • Spiders Web has green leaves variegated with white at the margins, making it appear as if spider’s webs have been weaving their webs on the leaves. The plant will grow to around eight ft tall if left. It flowers in the winter months of November and December. Because it is slow growing this is an excellent container plant or a bush for smaller gardens.
  • Annelise boasts lovely dark green leave with touches of yellow and emerald green. The plant will grow to between six and 10 ft high and doesn’t need a lot of sunshine to flourish.
  • Moseri is smaller than the typical variety but has plenty of foliage to get lost in, as well as large flowers on white stems which can appear in autumn and last through to winter (October to January) followed by large blackberries. It will grow to around eight feet tall.

In this article, we will discuss the best way to plant and propagate Fatsia Japonica, as well as look at feeding and pruning this fine plant – everything you need to know, in order to grow an extremely healthy specimen. And it’s one which we’re sure you will have around for years, if not decades, such is the plant’s hardiness.


Fertilise every four waters during the growing period before reducing this to every six in the autumn & winter. Although an 'All-Purpose' fertiliser will still do the job, we'd recommend using a specific 'Houseplant' labelled fertiliser as it'll support the vital thirteen nutrients that this species will need to grow.

Inconsistent watering which involves droughts and prolonged water-logging will not be accepted by a Fatsia, resulting in root rot, foliage decline and stunted growth. For those that are grown in brightly lit spots, only allow a third of the soil to dry out in between waterings, with darker locations allowing over half. If you're a forgetful gardener, set up a watering-rota so that it prompts you to re-hydrate efficiently.

Root rot is a common issue among specimens sat in too dark environments with prolonged soil moisture. Symptoms include rapidly yellowing leaves, mouldy soil, stunted growth and a rotten brown base. Take the plant out of the pot and inspect health below the soil line. If the roots sport a yellow tinge, you're good to go, but if they're brown and mushy, action must be taken immediately. More information about addressing root rot can be found on this link .

Lower leaf loss is a common and significant issue among gardeners. This unfortunate phenomenon could be a product of several different problems, most notably being dark locations, water-related abuse or environmental shock. Introduce the plant to a more well-lit area with a splash of off-peak sunlight if caught in time, the leaf loss should stop within a week. If you feel that you're watering habits aren't up to scratch, familiarise yourself with our care tips provided at the top of this article. It's always best to under-water this species than over-do it, purely on its poor ability to endure continued sogginess. The final culprit could be down to a sudden relocation if you've recently purchased the specimen, the chances are it is still acclimatising to the new environment. Although this shouldn't happen, a vastly different setting will cause sudden foliage loss and stunted growth. You'll have two options of either waiting it out or presenting a more Fatsia-friendly environment, mentioned in the 'Location & Light' section.

If your specimen is located in a dark environment with mould developing on the soil's surface, use a chopstick to stab the soil in various areas gently. You should aim to enter the compost between the base of the plant and the pot's edge, as failure to do so may lead to damaging its lower portion. Leave the holes open for a few days before re-surfacing the soil to avoid it becoming overly dry. Not only will the gentle shift in the soil's structure mimic the work of small invertebrates in the wild (worms, etc.), but it'll also add oxygen back into the soil, thus reducing the risk of root rot. Repeat this monthly, or whenever you feel the potting-mix isn't drying out quickly enough.

Environmental Shock is a familiar occurrence with newly-located specimens, that usually results in stunted growth and lower leaf loss (rare). When a plant is relocated into a new, unfamiliar setting, the effects can be catastrophic. The humidity, temperature and light levels will all suddenly shift into different proportions, inflicting great stress the individual. There are two options of addressing this issue either wait it out or relocate it into a more Fatsia-friendly environment. As long as the specimen appears healthy with little change to its pre-existing leaves, new nodular growth should emerge in the following months.

Too low humidity can cause browning tips with yellow halos on juvenile leaves. Although this won't kill your specimen, you may want to increase the local moisture to prevent the new growth from adopting these symptoms. Mist or rinse the foliage from time to time and create a humidity tray while the heaters are active to create a stable environment. The browning of leaf-tips on older leaves is wholly natural and is the product of extensive photosynthesis during its life.

Brown crispy new-growth that's become deformed is the product of over-exposure to the sun and dehydration. As mentioned previously, Fatsia will grow best in bright, indirect light with regular waters. Remove the affected leaf and improve the growing conditions to counteract this issue occurring again. In some cases, Spider Mites could be the culprit for the abnormality, with small, near-transparent critters slowly extracting the chlorophyll out of the leaves. Have a check under the rest of the foliage, most notably along the midrib, for small webs and gritty yellow bumps. Click here to read our article about the eradicating Spider Mites , along with some extra tips that you may not find elsewhere!

Origins

The species was first described under the name of ' Aralia japonica ' by Carl Peter Thunberg in 1780 , before being reclassified by Planchon in 1854. The kept the species name, 'Japonica', as a nod to Thunberg's previous works, but replaced it in the newly-constructed Fatsia genus. The latter can be translated from the Japanese word for 'eight', which refers to the number of lobes on a matured leaf.

The Distribution of Fatsia japonica in Green & artificial introduction in Red.

Temperature

-5° - 30°C (23° - 86°F)
H5 - Tolerant of temperatures below freezing, although they're best grown above 10°C.

Spread

Up to 2m in height and over 1m in width. The ultimate height will take between 5 - 10 years to achieve indoors, with several new leaves put-out each season.

Pruning & Maintenance

Remove yellow or dying leaves, and plant debris to encourage better-growing conditions. While pruning, always use clean scissors or shears to reduce the chance of bacterial and fungal diseases. Never cut through yellowed tissue as this may cause further damage in the likes of diseases or bacterial infections. Remember to make clean incisions as too-damaged wounds may shock the plant, causing weakened growth and a decline in health.

Propagation

Via Seed or Stem Cuttings.

Stem & Eye Cuttings (Moderate) - This method of propagation is troublesome without the aid of bottom-heat and a controlled environment. Choose the healthiest, most established stems that are wooded, yet still juvenile enough to bend slightly. Each cutting should only have ONE leaf, and a small portion of the stem to either side of the node. Cut directly below a node using a clean knife to reduce bacteria count. Situate the cutting into moist 'Houseplant' compost, with the only the leaf sticking out of the soil. Blackleg can occur when the bottom wound becomes infected, resulting in propagation failure - typically caused by water-logging or a too-damaged wound. Maintain bright light and evenly moist soil with the avoidance of direct sunlight or cold draughts. Wrap the pot (& foliage) in a transparent bag or within a miniature greenhouse, and provide bottom heat of temperatures above 18°C (54°F). Remove the bag and place into individual 7cm pots once the second new leaf emerges. Follow the same care routines, as mentioned in the article's top half. This method will take up to five months, so patience and the correct environment are paramount for success! Roots should develop within the first month of propagation, pushing out at the bottom of the pot - have a look at the images below to get a grasp of what's been written.

Wrap the leaf outwards around a small stick for the prevention of water-loss - this is a crucial element for its success.

The leading growth's terminals are among the best candidates for stem cuttings.

The same specimen three months later.

Flowers

Fatsia will produce small clusters of globular white flowers during spring or summer however, it's extremely rare to bloom indoors and therefore is otherwise grown for it's tropical attire. Have a look at the second image above to see the development of its flowers.

Repotting

Repot every two years in the spring using a Houseplant' labelled compost and the next sized pot with adequate drainage. Hydrate the plant 24hrs before tinkering with the roots to prevent the risk of transplant shock. For those that are situated in a darker location, add a thin layer of small grit in the pot's base to improve drainage and downplay over-watering. Click here for a detailed step-by-step guide on transplantation, or via this link to learn about repotting with root rot.

Book a 1-to-1 video call with Joe Bagley if you'd like a personal guide to repotting your houseplant. This will include recommending the right branded-compost and pot size, followed by a live video call whilst you transplant the specimen for step-by-step guidance and answer any further questions!

Pests & Diseases

Keep an eye out for mealybugs, spider mites, scale, thrips & whitefly that'll locate themselves in the cubbyholes and undersides of the leaves. Common diseases are root rot, leaf-spot disease, botrytis, powdery mildew & southern blight - click here to learn more about these issues.

Toxicity

This plant is classified as poisonous. If parts of the plants are eaten, vomiting, nausea and a loss of appetite could occur. Consumption of large quantities must be dealt with quickly - acquire medical assistance for further information.

Retail Locations

Blue Diamond, British Garden Centres, Dobbies, Online Stores. Most Fatsia japonica are usually sold outside during summer at most garden centres you can bring them indoors as long as they're checked for pests and diseases beforehand.

Book a 1-to-1 Call with Joe Bagley

If you need further advice with your houseplants, book an advice call with ukhouseplants' friendly and expert writer today! This can be done via a video or audio call on most apps, including Facebook, FaceTime & Skype. A ten-minute call costs £5.99 (US$7), or £15.99 for thirty minutes. You can ask multiple questions, including queries on plants, pests, terrariums, repotting advice and anything in between. Please consider supporting this service to keep ukhouseplants thriving!


Cultivars & Related Species

Fatsia cultivars are difficult to find in retail garden centers, and will usually need to be ordered from specialty mail order nurseries.

  • ‘Variegata’ has irregularly white-edged leaves and is one of the more attractive cultivars. White edges will brown in excess sun.
  • ‘Spider’s Web’ fatsia has heavy white speckling over the entire leaf and pale leaf veins. The variegation may take several years to reach full effect.
  • ‘Annelise’ has large golden yellow and lime green splotches covering most of the leaf surface.

x Fatshedera lizei is an intergeneric hybrid between fatsia and English ivy. It is intermediate in characteristics between both plants. It normally grows as a spreading to vining shrub with many upright stems 3 to 5 feet tall. It also can be trained onto a wall or other sturdy support up to 10 feet or more. Unlike ivy, its attachments are weak, and it will need some fasteners to climb. Leaves are smaller and not as deeply lobed as fatsia. It usually has only 5 lobes. Like fatsia and English ivy, this vine prefers a shady site. These hybrid vines are easy to propagate from cuttings in the summer.

  • ‘Aurea Maculata’ is the most commonly seen cultivar, even more common than the plain green plant. Irregular light yellow to lime green markings spread out from the center and veins of the leaves.
  • ‘Angyo Star’ has bright to pale yellow edges on each leaf.

A young ‘Spider’s Web’ fatsia.
Karen Russ, ©2010 HGIC, Clemson Extension


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