Fatsia, also known as Japanese fatsia (Fatsia japonica) is a popular shrub in the Southeast because of its adaptability to cold tolerance and tropical appearance.
Fatsia will grow throughout South Carolina except in the mountains where temperatures could drop below 10F.
Fatsia typically grows 6-10 feet tall and 6-10 feet wide.
Old plants can reach 15 feet tall with ideal growing conditions.
Growth will be slower in full sun and dry soil.
Fatsia will grow quicker in shade with rich, moist soil.
Fatsia is an evergreen foliage plant. The large leaves are 6-14 inches wide with 7-9 deep lobes per leaf. The bold, dark green, and shiny leaves give the plant a very tropical appearance.
Usually multiple unbranched stems shoot up from the base. Plants usually have an overall rounded form.
In crowded conditions, fatsia will grow more upright.
The flowers are white and in clusters of rounded umbels, which is a group of flowers radiating from a central point, that sits above the foliage. Flowers appear in October to November and last for several weeks.
The flowers will produce green berries that mature to shiny black during the winter. Berries last well on the plant until they are eaten by birds.
Fatsia does well in shade gardens where a dramatic, tropical look is desired.
Remove older, large stems each year to fit into a small area. Fatsia will grow well even in deep shade and will tolerate sandy or heavy clay soils.
Fatsia can also grow well in large outdoor containers and are used indoors as houseplants.
Fatsias can be pruned by either of two methods.
The first method is to rejuvenate the plant by cutting back all stems by several feet in late winter before growth begins.
This will produce very full foliage.
The second pruning method is to remove up to one third of the individual stems all the way to the base.
Remove the stems any time from late winter to late summer.
Removing the oldest, tallest stems will maintain the plant at a smaller size. Individual stems can be removed to give the plant a more open, sculptural, or upright habit.
Fertilize fatsia lightly in the spring with a slow-release tree and shrub fertilizer, such as 12-6-6. Fertilize once the last frost has passed.
Plants can be propagated from fresh seed after the fleshy black fruit wall is removed. The seed will typically germinate in 2-4 weeks.
Cuttings can be taken in mid to late summer after the wood has firmed.
Use a rooting hormone, bottom heat, and either mist or a poly tent to maintain humidity.
Reduce leaf area by trimming outer areas of large leaves to cut moisture loss.
Cuttings are the only way to reproduce variegated cultivars true to type.
Fatsia rarely have serious insect or disease problems. Flowers will attract pollinating insects including beneficial parasitic and predaceous wasps, which will reduce the population of many harmful insects.
Fatsia cultivars are often difficult to find in retail garden centers and will usually need to be ordered from specialty mail order nurseries.
The following cultivars are recommended: ‘Variegata’, ‘Spider’s Web’, ‘Annelise’, ‘Aurea Maculata’, and ‘Angyo Star’. Fatsia x Fatshedera lizei is a hybrid between fatsia and English ivy.
For more information on fatsia, please visit the Home and Garden Information Center website at hgic.clemson.edu. Tune in on Tuesday nights to watch “Making it Grow” at 7 p.m. on SCETV or mig.org.
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