Ming aralia, scientific name Polyscias fruticosa, is a versatile and easy-to-grow houseplant. Belonging to the family Araliaceae, this evergreen foliage plant is native to India and categorized under shrubs and bushes. Some botanists consider ming aralia as a dwarf tree, especially because of its variable height. Commercial propagation of this shrub is done by stem cuttings, root cuttings, and air-layering. Nevertheless, when the plant is in its active state (during summer), propagation by suckers is usually practiced. With basic care, you can surely maintain a disease-free ming aralia plant.
Ming Aralia Care Guidelines
The evergreen trifoliate leaves and unique branching pattern are notable features of the ming aralia plant. Branches are developed at regular intervals in the upright stem, giving it a symmetrical canopy shape. Depending upon the cultivar, the leaf shape is either obovate or lanceolate. Small inconspicuous flowers are developed in summer. As for caring for the plant, it is an outstanding decorative houseplant that requires minimal maintenance.
For planting the ming aralia, you can use a general potting mixture. It can be planted in different types of soil, as long as the soil is loose, well-drained, and rich in nutrients. As this houseplant cannot tolerate either waterlogged or dry soil, it is essential to add peat moss, loam, and sand in the potting mixture. For preparing the soil mixture on your own, add one part each of garden soil, humus, and perlite (or coarse sand). You can use a small amount of lime dust to avoid soil acidity.
The ming aralia plant thrives well in partial sunlight. When maintained indoors, it performs best in bright, indirect sunlight. Hence, for better growth, you can place this evergreen houseplant in an area facing a window, which receives sunlight. In case, you are living in a cold climatic region, use artificial light occasionally, particularly during the winter months.
The favorable temperature range for ming aralia is 60 - 85 degrees Fahrenheit. This houseplant cannot tolerate extreme cold conditions. Extreme cold (below 60 degrees Fahrenheit) for a prolonged period can cause the leaves to discolor and drop. Hence, make sure you maintain the temperature above the minimum tolerable level.
A medium to high humidity level is ideal for maintaining ming aralia as a houseplant. Exposure to prolonged low humidity condition can lead to yellowing and falling of leaves. In an extremely dry environment, this plant may lose all its leaves. So, to avoid this, you can use a room humidifier and maintain the preferable humidity level for the plant.
Watering the ming aralia tree should be done in such a way that the top portion of the soil remains moist. Regular irrigation is advisable during warm and active growing seasons. To be precise, keep the soil moist between two watering sessions. You can cut down irrigation frequency in winter, when the plant is in its inactive phase. Over-watering causes waterlogging and damage to the root system.
You can use balanced liquid fertilizers that are rich in essential plant nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) and trace nutrients in the growing period. Fertilizing this houseplant thrice during the growing season is sufficient for proper growth. During winter, i.e., when the plant is in an inactive state, you can supplement it with adequate amounts of farmyard compost.
Repotting Ming Aralia
Repotting the ming aralia can be performed at any time throughout the summer months. While transplanting, special care should be taken so that the delicate roots are not damaged. Loosen soil around the main stem and take out the plant along with adhering soil. As the roots are not so extensive, you can replant them in another pot of the same size as the current one.
Common Plant Problems
Leaf staining is a common problem with this plant, caused as a result of dry soil and extreme cold climate. Destructive pests that infest ming aralia plants include spider mites, aphids, mealy bugs, and very rarely, scales. In order to keep these pests under control, you can use pesticides in an appropriate concentration. If you are not sure about the pest type, get it checked by a horticulturist and then apply the suggested pesticide.
Apart from growing this evergreen shrub as a regular houseplant, you can opt for its bonsai as well. When trained in the bonsai form, the vertical growing stem of this plant gives a unique appearance. Care for the ming aralia bonsai is same as that of regular sized plants, except that you should not over water and overfeed the plant. As it is slow-growing, occasional pruning and trimming in Spring are important to give the plant a desired shape.