Belonging to evergreen trees, 68 different species are included in the genus. These beautiful trees are also known as spikenards. They mostly grow among the mountainous terrains of American continents and Asia. Some species reach a maximum growth of only fifty centimeters. At the same time, certain species can reach a height of twenty meters.
From the size of the various species, it is very clear that the genus can be grown as trees or shrubs depending on your preference. Their flowers also vary in size and color with the white flowers being more common. Did you know some species of Aralia like the Cordata are grown for food? Popularly known as Udo, this is a very large vegetable that can grow up to two meters. In Japan, this vegetable goes by the name “sansai” meaning mountain herb. The roots of some species are used in certain cultures to make root beers and tea. The roots are also used to make balms to treat burns and wounds.
For indoor gardening enthusiasts, Aralia is a very favored plant. They are very adorable when used to fill bare corners. The Fabian variety boasts of a trunk that resembles a tree and looks magnificent as an indoor plant. The heavenly design of the leaves of this particular plant is a feast to behold. Leaves sprout from the stems that emerge directly from the elegant stem. The tropical green leaves are maroon on the underside and this adds a magical look.
The most common or familiar diversification of the species include:
i. Ming Aralia.
ii. Angelica Tree.
iii. California Spikenard.
iv. Devil’s Walking Stick.
Most among the known 68 species are common in their wild habitats in the mountains of the Americas, Australia, Asia, and Africa, while only a few are popular as houseplants. The lion’s share bears dark maroon or purple fruits much similar to berries. When Aralia trees bear fruits, it is a feasting season for birds. In the wild, birds help the propagation of the species. The indoor varieties flower only on rare occasions.
How Long Does it Take to Grow Aralia?
The easiest way to grow an Aralia plant is from its cuttings. Select a healthy green stem to plant in damp soil. Separate it from the tree very carefully using a sharp instrument so that the skin doesn’t peel off. Spring is the best time to plant an Aralia stem. The natural habitats of Aralia trees are humid- so it is recommended to provide the stem-cutting with plenty of moisture and warmth. This can be achieved outdoors by selecting a spot that gets good direct sun. In indoor spaces, artificial lighting along with a parasol to spray water occasionally will achieve splendid results.
Under proper care, the stem will take root within a few weeks. Slowly leaves will start to sprout. Adding an occasional thin layer of soil along with a good potting mixture or manure shall ensure that the trees remain healthy and maintain steady growth.
A year is sufficient to get a mature Aralia plant from which healthy stem-cuttings can be obtained to grow more trees. It is a good practice to re-pot the plant annually. However, if you take care to keep the plant small by proper pruning, the repotting frequency can be considerably reduced.
How to Plant and Grow Aralia
Temperature: These tropical plants should be planted when there is a minimum temperature of at least 720 F.
The greatest advantage of this temperature is that it is best for the parent tree to grow.
Tip: Make sure to trim off any twigs or leaves at the bottom two inches of the stem selected for planting.
Preparing: Experienced Aralia growers always keep the stem dipped in a rooting hormone immediately before planting.
Tip: Shake the stem slightly to get rid of any surplus liquid.
The Soil: Make or buy a good potting mixture and prepare it in your preferred container like a pot or grow bag. The soil should be damp while well-drained and sterile. You can plant several cuttings in the pot. They should be planted two inches deep into the soil.
Tip: Plant each stem 1 inch apart.
Providing Humidity: Spray the stem at regular intervals with water. This will keep the atmosphere humid.
Tip: Spray only the stem and not the soil. Saturated soil will slow down the root growth.
A temporary Green House: Use a transparent plastic polythene sheet to cover the pot and the plant. This will help preserve humidity and heat. The sheet or bag can be done away with once the stems have taken root.
Tip: If you put the container in a spot that receives sunlight, the temperature can be maintained around the desired 720 F.
Replanting: Prepare pots like the container in which the stems were planted. The size of the pots will depend upon the sizes to which you are planning to grow the plants.
Tip: The minimum diameter of the containers should not be less than six inches.
Watering: Your Aralia plants need watering only once a week. The period between watering will help the soil to dry thus maintaining a well-drained base.
Tip: Check the plant for any signs of dehydration. This can be taken care of by reducing the intervals between watering days.
How to Care for Your Aralia?
The very first thing that needs to be kept in mind before growing an Aralia should be what variety suits you most. The genus has species that are shrubs, herbaceous, and trees. In short, you are gifted with a wide range of labels to choose from that will merge with your overall garden decor. If you go for flowering varieties, they bloom during different seasons. The flowers will remain for about two to three months depending on the species. Then the flowers will become seeds.
Besides its beauty and elegance, some species are poisonous. If you have kids or pets, it is always advised not to go for the poisonous varieties unless you can stick to all the precautions. The poison is caused by a substance called saponins which can cause the following in both animals and humans:
iv. Gastro irritation.
The symptoms of poisoning can vary in humans and animals.
Symptoms of Poisoning in Humans
- Dilated pupils.
- Skin irritation.
- Irritation around the mouth.
- Abdominal pain.
Symptoms of Poisoning in Animals
- Swelling of the face, mouth, and throat.
- Excessive drooling.
Most Botanists advise house growers of Aralia to ensure that the trees are kept out of reach of pets and children. It is a good practice to use gloves while tendering to these plants. Washing the hands with soap and water prevents any residues from the plant body from remaining on your skin.
Watering Requirements: Most Aralia species have fragile and thin roots. Excess water can cause the roots to decay. Give minimum water to maintain dry soil while ensuring that the plants don’t get dehydrated.
Sunlight: Their natural habitats have lots of sunshine. Indoor plants will get sufficient sunlight if kept near windows. Artificial lighting shall do as well.
Nourishment and Soil: Use good potting soil when you plant the tree for the first time. After the plants have taken root, use a fertilizer that suits shrubs and trees. Mush similar to the watering needs, fertilizer too needs to be released only at a slow pace. Spring and summer months are the best time to feed the plants. An interval of two months is the suggested frequency to nourish the plants with fertilizers.
Shearing: The pruning methods are different for both outdoor and indoor plants even if they belong to the same species.
Pruning Outdoor Aralia: They need regular trimming and maintenance to ensure good health. Extra care should be given to ensure that the suckers are cropped off systematically.
Pruning Indoor Aralia: Older plants need only nominal shearing to ensure a healthy appearance. In the case of new plants, the first few years may require renewal pruning. This promotes healthy growth. This practice also takes care of most diseases and pests.
The most common disease in Aralia plants is root decay caused by excess watering. If you maintain a healthy watering schedule as mentioned above, this issue can be taken care of.
Another menace is pests. The following are the pests that affect these lovely plants:
- Armored Plant Scale
- Mealybugs sucking the plant juices
- Aphids (aka Plant Lice)
Each pest can be dealt with if detected at the right time. This is achieved when you regularly watch out for your plants. It is of paramount importance to take any slight change in the appearance of any part of the tree to be seriously and taken care of.
You may feel that Aralia takes longer than usual to become steady. The fact is that after the first year the plants become strong and start to grow with much fervor.