Ming Aralia

Polyscias fruticosa

Ming aralia's unusual form and feathery texture make it a stunner in a South Florida shade garden.

young ming aralia in a partial shade backyard

This exquisite shrub (or dwarf tree) should be used more often, since its natural bonsai look works very well with tropical landscaping - or any other style, for that matter.

Ming grows upright with multiple side branches that create a layered appearance. The occasional exposure of bare branches only adds to the plant's beauty.

Each one is unique. The delicate, lacy leaves cover branches that grow in odd formations like "heads" of foliage.

This plant contains toxins that can cause skin irritations - wear gloves when handling, if you have sensitive skin. Keep away from munching pets who can develop minor illness if they ingest stems or leaves.

mature plant

Plant specs

This shrub is a moderate grower that needs full to partial shade (morning sun only).

It prefers Zone 10 temps but has been known to grow in Zone 9B, even coming back after a winter dieback. Plant in an area protected from wind.

These plants can grow to about 15 feet but usually top out (or can be trimmed) around 8 feet.

Plant care

Add a combination of top soil and composted cow manure to the hole when you plant.

Trimming isn't necessary but you can cut tips of branches in spring to encourage new "heads" of foliage.

Sometimes branches get heavy and floppy, especially when wet during rainy season. You can stake them up or trim the plant so the branches don't droop too far down.

Water on a regular basis, and fertilize in spring, summer and autumn.

foliage detail

Plant spacing

Plant 3 to 4 feet apart. Don't plant too close to another large shrub (such as variegated ginger) that may overwhelm it in size and impact.

Come out from the house 2-1/2 to 3 feet, and away from walks and drives 3 to 4 feet to allow for future growth.

This aralia is an excellent container plant, often grown indoors in colder climates. If you do grow it indoors, be sure to mist it regularly to make up for lack of humidity.

Landscape uses for ming aralia

  • entryway feature
  • anchor plant for an Asian garden
  • silhouette plant for a blank wall
  • backdrop for small plants
  • architectural accent
  • container plant for shady porch, deck, patio or lanai


COMPANION PLANT SUGGESTIONS:  Holly fern, pinwheel jasmine, croton, pentas, and alocasia odora.

Other plants you might like: False Aralia, Dwarf Black Olive

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