Ming aralia, scientifically known as Polyscias fruticosa, is considered an easy-to-grow houseplant which belongs to the family Araliaceae. It is categorized as a shrub and is native to India. The varying but short height of this perennial is the reason why some botanists call it a dwarf tree. It grows in a vertical manner and does not branch sideways. Trimming and training can encourage this garden plant to branch rapidly and promote the thickening of the trunk.
The closely-set joints of the ming aralia plant enables the thick branches to grow leaves densely. A complex candelabra is formed with the zigzagging stems to create an appearance often considered Oriental in style. As the plant ages, the lower branches die and leave a gnarled and bumpy surface. When grown in a bonsai pot, the plant is primarily used for decorative purposes.
It is relatively easy to propagate and maintain the ming aralia plant. This plant can be grown in water gardens or in any type of soil that is well-drained and loose. It thrives in partial sunlight and, for better growth when kept indoors, the plant should be placed near windows or in other areas that receive plenty of sun. During the winter months, it is recommended to occasionally use artificial light since the ming aralia plant has a very low tolerance for extremely cold environments. When exposed to temperatures below about 60 degree Fahrenheit (15.5 degrees Celsius) for an extended period, the leaves discolor before eventually falling.
The top soil should be kept moist in order for the plant to thrive. During the growing season, which happens in the warmer months, it is advisable to irrigate regularly and water twice a day to maintain enough soil moisture. It is also important for gardeners to avoid over watering ming aralia plants, as this can damage the root system and result in water logging.
Propagation of the plant can be implemented through cuttings. It is generally recommended to take green stem cuttings in spring because the moisture and warmth helps them survive. Repotting can also be performed annually or every two years, though it should only be done during the summer months. The roots are delicate and require careful handling while transplanting.
A common problem encountered when caring for ming aralia is leaf staining, which is often caused by extremely cold conditions and dry soil. The plant is also vulnerable to common plant pests, such as plant lice, mealy bugs and spider mites. Certain pesticides can be used to keep these pests under control, though spider mites can prove difficult to eradicate due to their resistance to both insecticides and pesticides.