False aralia (Plerandra elegantissima) is an evergreen, ornamental shrub or tree. False aralia can grow up to 26–49 ft tall by 7 ft wide. The leaves, on a 10-14 cm long petiole in the young plants, 12-16 inches in the matured ones, are alternate, palmate-compound, formed by 7-12 leaflets almost linear with grossly and irregularly dentate margins, 5-10 inches long and 1-2 cm broad in the young plants or in the branches growing at the base of mature specimens, 8-12 inches long and 7-8 cm wide in the matured plants. The leaves are first brown purple, then glossy dark green, coriaceous, with a prominent greenish white central vein. Umbel compound terminal inflorescences with numerous small hermaphroditic pentamerous flowers of yellow-greenish color. The fruits are sub-globose, of about 1 cm in diameter, of blackish color containing usually 5-6 pale yellow seeds.
Scientific Name: Plerandra elegantissima
Synonyms: Dizygotheca elegantissima, Aralia elegantissima, Schefflera elegantissima.
Common Name: False Aralia
How to grow and maintain False aralia:
It requires bright light but should not be placed where exposed to strong direct sunlight. Direct sun can cause the leaf tips and edges to turn brown.
It grows well in loose, rich in organic substance, slightly acidic to neutral, well-drained soil.
It prefers normal room temperatures of between 65°F – 85°F / 18°C – 29°C. Do not expose it to temperatures below 60°F / 15°C, which can cause leaf drop.
Water thoroughly and allow the top one inch of soil to dry out between waterings. Reduced watering from fall to late winter. Wilted leaves are a sign of overwatering.
Fertilize every two weeks with a balanced liquid fertilizer (such as 10-10-10) diluted by half in spring and summer and feed monthly in fall and winter.
It can be easily propagated by seeds or stem tip cuttings. Take stem tip cuttings in spring. Use a rooting hormone for best results and keep the stem cuttings in a warm, humid place for a few weeks, until new growth emerges.
Re-pot your false aralia plant every year or every two years in spring using general purpose potting soil and a pot just big enough to accommodate the roots.
Pests and Diseases:
There is no serious pest or disease problems. Watch for mites, aphids, mealy bugs, scale, and whitefly.