An immensely popular houseplant, false aralia (Plerandra elegantissima) has beautifully textured foliage with deeply serrated leaflets that start out a copper or burgundy shade and eventually deepen to a rich green. The juvenile plants tend to have more textured foliage while the adult leaves are more deeply lobed. Although the plant can reach up to 6 feet when fully mature, it is a slow-growing varietal. That means it stays at a manageable size as a houseplant for several years. Native to the South Pacific and able to be planted year-round, false aralia can be grown outside in USDA zones 10 through 12 or as a houseplant anywhere as long as your home isn't too dry.
|Common Name||False aralia|
|Botanical Name||Plerandra elegantissima|
Can You Grow False Aralia Inside?
False aralia is a pretty indoor plant and an evergreen garden plant, beloved for its interesting leaf shape and slim, sprawling height, both of which give it a feather-like appearance. Thanks to its slender growth habit, it doesn't take up much space. It also can handle a range of temperatures.
However, the main problem with colder environments is the lack of humidity—especially when the heat is on indoors. Plants might lose some leaves unless you can raise the humidity sufficiently. Otherwise, it is relatively easy to grow indoors as long as you provide even moisture and a fairly bright window.
How to Grow False Aralia Indoors
False aralia does best in bright, indirect light. The leaf color is affected by overall light levels—the more light it gets, the darker the mature leaves will appear. However, be mindful of exposing the plant to any harsh direct rays of sunlight. They can damage the thin, delicate leaves and cause them to brown.
A spot that gets a few hours of direct morning sun, such as an east-facing window, should be fine. But avoid direct strong afternoon sun. Also, regularly rotate the container to expose different sides to the window, ensuring that the plant grows evenly.
Temperature and Humidity
False aralia hates to be cold. The ideal temperature range for false aralia to thrive is somewhere between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit, though it can handle brief dips in temperature to about 45 degrees. However, prolonged cold temperatures below 60 degrees will cause the plant to drop leaves and eventually die.
Additionally, false aralia loves humidity and will need humidity levels of at least 50 percent to thrive. To raise humidity, you can spritz your plant with water or set its pot on a shallow tray filled with water and pebbles, making sure the bottom of the pot isn't sitting directly in the water.
False aralia prefers a steady supply of soil moisture, but it will struggle in soggy soil. A good rule of thumb is to wait until the top 1 to 2 inches of soil are dry to the touch before you water again.
Generally, false aralia doesn't have any heavy fertilizer requirements. However, you can give your plant a boost with a liquid houseplant fertilizer during its growing season (spring and summer), following label instructions.
Pruning and Maintenance
Because this plant is slow-growing, its pruning needs are low. But you should promptly prune off any damaged or diseased portions to keep the rest of the plant strong.
Container and Size
To pot false aralia, select a container that’s just slightly larger in both width and depth than your plant’s root ball. This plant doesn’t mind being a little root-bound. An unglazed clay container is ideal because it will allow excess soil moisture to evaporate through its walls. And drainage holes in the bottom of the container are a must.
Potting Soil and Drainage
False aralia likes a moist but well-draining soil with a slightly acidic to neutral soil pH. It does not do well in sponge-like potting media, so opt for a peat-based mix instead. Make sure your chosen blend has plenty of coarse material—you want something that retains moisture but drains quickly and does not become waterlogged.
Potting and Repotting False Aralia
It's best to add only one false aralia plant per container, as this specimen ultimately does become fairly large. But because this plant is fairly slow-growing, you likely will only have to repot every other year. If you see roots growing out of the drainage holes or popping up out of the soil, you'll know it's time to repot.
Moving False Aralia Outdoors for the Summer
If you live outside of this plant's growing zones, you still can bring it outside in the summertime to enjoy the sunlight and warm weather. Make sure the temperature is regularly above 60 degrees Fahrenheit before bringing it out. And keep it in a spot that gets filtered light but never direct sun. After a few weeks acclimating to filtered light, you may expose your plant to direct morning sun.
Continue to keep your false aralia's soil moist but not soggy when it's outdoors. That might mean watering more frequently in hot weather. But if your plant gets rainfall, refrain from watering until the top couple inches of soil have dried out. If the leaves begin to turn yellow, that often can be a sign of overwatering.
If you notice leaves turning black or brown, that can be a sign of too much or too harsh of light. So try moving your plant to a shadier spot. And if leaves start dropping off the plant, that sometimes can be the result of temperatures that are too chilly. Even nighttime temperatures should remain above 60 degrees Fahrenheit, so always bring your plant indoors if you're expecting a cold spell.
When to Bring False Aralia Back Indoors
As soon as your weather forecast predicts multiple days with temperatures in the 60s, that's a good sign to bring your false aralia back inside. It shouldn't be too difficult for the plant to acclimate as long as you return it to its window with bright, indirect light.
Prior to bringing your plant back indoors, check for signs of insects on the tops and bottoms of the leaves and in the soil. This plant is susceptible to common pests, including spider mites, scale, and aphids. Infestations can often be treated with insecticidal soap or neem oil.
How do you force false aralia to bloom indoors?
In general, false aralia is grown both indoors and outdoors more for its foliage than its small flowers. It is very rare for false aralia to bloom indoors. It requires the plant's ideal combination of natural sunlight, warmth, and humidity.
Is it easy to propagate false aralia?
False aralia can be propagated relatively easily via stem cuttings. Not only is this an inexpensive way to make new plants, but it also allows you to make use of any stems you want to prune off the parent plant to shape it. The best time to take a stem cutting is in the spring.
How do you grow false aralia from seed?
False aralia seeds can be started indoors anytime. Sow them on the surface of a moist seed-starting mix, as they need light to germinate. And make sure the temperature of the soil remains around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. It can take up to a month for the seeds to germinate.