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x Fatshedera lizei (fat-sha-DER-a or fats-HED-er-a LIZ-ee-i)
Tree ivy, Aralia ivy, Fat-headed Lizzy, Botanical wonder
The large, glossy, dark-green leaves resemble ivy, feature five or seven lobes each and can grow up to 8 inches wide. Floral designers often use the leaves in arrangements. The plant itself is easy to grow, with a shrublike base and vines that can grow to 6 or 8 feet. Unlike ivy, its vines don’t feature clingy aerial rootlets, so the plant must be tied if it is to be trained as a climber.
Indoors, with proper care, tree ivies can last for years. New plants are easy to grow from stem cuttings.
Tree ivies are available year-round.
in-store and consumer care
LIGHT Tree ivies tolerate low light levels although bright, indirect light is best. Variegated varieties need more light.
Water regularly in spring through fall, keeping soil slightly moist. Decrease watering in winter, but continue regular misting (see Humidity).
Average indoor temperatures are fine. Tree ivies prefer slightly cooler temperatures, so fall and winter temperatures should be lower than 70 F. The plants can be moved outdoors in summer or grown outdoors year-round in mild winter climates.
Mist the plants’ leaves occasionally; daily misting during the dry winter months is advised.
Feed established plants with a diluted fertilizer once a month.
Start new tree ivy plants via stem cuttings.
Repotting is suggested annually in spring. After repotting, keep the plants in cool shade for a week.
PESTS Watch for spider mites, aphids and mealybugs. Heavily affected stems can be removed, and additional pests can be wiped off with a mild soap solution (spider mites), a spray of water (aphids) or a cotton swab dipped in alcohol (mealybugs).
LEAF PROBLEMS Yellowing, dropping leaves may indicate overwatering. Allow the soil to dry slightly between waterings, and make sure the container has adequate drainage.
WHAT'S IN A NAME Tree ivy is among the rare plants that represent a cross between two genera, in this case Fatsia japonica (Japanese aralia) and Hedera helix ‘Hibernica’ (English ivy). The two genus names combine to describe Fatshedera. Their pairing was an accidental cross created in a nursery in France in 1910. The name is pronounced “the hybrid Fatshedera lizei,” without saying the “x,” which also is ignored in alphabetical listings.
FAMILY Tree ivy is a member of the Araliaceae (aralia) family. Besides its parents, other common relatives include false aralia (Dizygotheca), Schefflera and ginseng (Panax).
RARE FLOWERS Tree ivies sometimes produce small white flowers, but they are sterile and no fruit is produced. The plants rarely flower indoors.
TREE IVY TRAINING If bushy growth is preferred, pinch back the growing tips each spring. Several Fatshederas also may be grown in a single container for a lusher look. For a trailing plant, tie the shoots to a stake, trellis or other support.
OTHER LOOKS Showy varieties such as the white-marked ‘Variegata’ and the cream-splotched ‘Annemeike’, sometimes referred to as ‘Anna Mikkels’ or ‘Aureamaculata’, are available but can be more difficult to grow. These varieties also require more light to keep their markings.
Some information provided by:
Botanica, by R.G. Turner Jr. and Ernie Wasson
Chain of Life Network®, www.chainoflifenetwork.org
The Complete Houseplant Survival Manual by Barbara Pleasant
Hermann Engelmann Greenhouses Inc., www.exoticangel.com
The Houseplant Encyclopedia by Ingrid Jantra and Ursula Kruger
The House Plant Expert, by Dr. D.G. Hessayon
“Foliage Plant of the Month” writer Amy Bauer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos courtesy of Hermann Engelmann Greenhouses Inc.
Super Floral Retailing • Copyright 2008
Florists' Review Enterprises, Inc.