A False Aralia is a True Treat of an Indoor Plant

false auralia garden drama
False aralia, Dizygotheca elegantissima.

Last month, I was lucky enough to visit Esther Filson, houseplant extraordinaire and matriarch of the local gardening community. I interviewed her for one of my upcoming columns in Northern Gardener magazine. The focus of the piece was Esther’s passion for the indoor plant and let me tell you, it is alive and well, and growing in her home. Walking into the house was like stepping off an airplane in Florida after spending a winter in Minnesota. Freshness abounded.

Check out the March/April issue for the full story. One of Esther’s favorite plants is the aralia and her collection of the small, airy-leaved trees fill her dining room. She and her hubby Gerry (also a great local gardener) bring them outside for the summer, cutting them back by a third and fertilizing them well. Esther beams when waxing poetically on this houseplant.

Inspired, I went out and purchased at Bachman’s what I though was an aralia, but in fact, is a false aralia, Dizygotheca elegantissima.  Excited, I sent a photo to Esther and she filled me in: “It isn’t a true aralia in the Polyscias family!  I love that plant, but I’ve found that it needs bright light and good humidity to grow well.”

So, the low down is that my false aralia is a beauty that is actually much-loved by many indoor gardeners. It does favor high light conditions, and high moisture, but I read that many enthusiasts favor the dropping of it’s leaves when it is in low-light, as this gives it an even lacier foliage appearance. I would say, try getting it as close to a window as possible. Water well, then allow to dry out. One month later, mine is doing quite nicely.

False aralias can reach six feet over time, but for now, mine sets happily on my bedside table, it’s soft foliage making my dreams just a little sweeter.

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