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Foliage Plant
of the month

False Aralia

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Dizygotheca elegantissima

False aralia, Finger aralia, Threadleaf

Dih-zih-go-THEE-ca (or dih-zih-GOTH-ih-cah)


This tall plant has a delicate look with its long, saw-toothed leaflets. False aralias can grow to 6 feet tall and several feet wide indoors. In the wild, the plants can grow to 50 feet. Their leaves are copper or bronze in hue when young, and they mature to a deep, metallic green that sometimes nears black. When young, the leaves consist of seven to 10 long, narrow leaflets. As the leaves mature, the leaflets become broader and more obscurely toothed.
A relative, D. veitchii, has wider leaves with wavy edges that turn from reddish green to dark green as they mature.

False aralias are available year-round.

WATER Keep the soil moderately moist, and avoid standing water by providing good drainage. Water the plants
moderately during the growth period from spring through fall and sparingly in winter.
LIGHT Indirect or bright diffused light is best for these plants.
TEMPERATURE False aralias are chill-sensitive and should be kept at temperatures above 55 F. Preferable temperatures are 70 F to 75 F during the day and 65 F to 70 F at night.
HUMIDITY Mist frequently, and keep false aralias out of dry, hot air. Low humidity can cause lower leaves to drop and may encourage pest problems.
FERTILIZER Feed false aralias with an all-purpose plant food every two weeks from spring to late summer. Feed monthly during fall and winter.
PROPOGATION Stem cuttings can be propagated using a rooting hormone and bottom heat. False aralias are most commonly grown from seed.
PESTS AND PROBLEMS Spider mites, scale and mealybugs can be problems, but more common is the dropping of lower leaves. Stresses such as low light, low humidity, dry soil, drafts and certain chemicals in the soil can be to blame.
Leaves also may develop oedema (edema), a disorder characterized by small wart-like bumps on the leaves. This is thought to be caused by overwatering or a humidity imbalance. Increase the temperature and ventilation around the plant to help the plant transpire, or shed the trapped water.
LEAF DROP Some dropping of lower leaves is natural and helps expose the plant’s trunk, giving it a more willowy appearance. Ensuring proper water levels, humidity and temperatures will keep leaves healthy.

FAMILY False aralias are members of the Araliaceae (ginseng) family.
HOME SWEET HOME False aralias are native to Australia, New Caledonia and other islands of the southwest Pacific. Its relatives include Aralia, ginseng (Panax), umbrella tree (Schefflera), English ivy (Hedera) and Japanese aralia (Fatsia).
DISHED UP Small groups of seedlings are often used as part of dish gardens or terrariums.
SOIL-FREE False aralias also can be grown hydroponically.

Some information provided by:
Botanica, by R.J. Turner and Ernie Wasson
The Chain of Life NetworkÆ,
Flowering & Foliage Plants Book 2 by Debra Terry Graber
Handbook of House Plants by Elvin McDonald
The Houseplant Encyclopedia by Ingrid Jantra and Ursula Kruger
The House Plant Expert by Dr. D.G. Hessayon,

You may reach Foliage Plant of the Month writer Amy Bauer by e-mail at or by phone at (800) 355-8086.

Photos courtesy of The John Henry Company

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