Ming Aralia, also sometimes known as Aralia Ming Stump, is an ornamental perennial plant native to Southeast Asia. This slow-growing shrub has a small footprint, which makes it perfect for indoor spaces.
Despite its beautiful foliage, Ming Aralia hasn’t reached the same level of popularity as other tropical plants. It’s often considered difficult to maintain, especially since it requires regular pruning to maintain its short stature.
The needs of a Ming Aralia are not much different than your typical tropical shrub. Ming Aralia requires high humidity, well-draining soil, 6-8 hours of indirect sunlight per day, regular pruning, and temperatures above 60°F (15°C).
Let’s dive into all the need-to-know items about this pretty houseplant.
How Do You Care for a Ming Aralia Plant?
Like most other tropical plants, Ming Aralia loves the light.
Ming Aralia prefers filtered sunlight or indirect light. This type of light mimics the partial light it receives in the dense, tropical forests it is native to.
Place your potted plant in a bright room where it can receive 6-8 hours of light. Morning sun is okay, but avoid harsh direct sunlight throughout the day.
Since Ming Aralias are native to tropical Southeast Asia and India, they need constantly moist soil. They are not tolerant to dry soil, but you can let the top layer of soil dry out between waterings to prevent issues like root rot.
An optimal watering schedule will depend on the amount of light and humidity in your indoor environment. The drainage of the soil will also impact this schedule. With well-draining soil, a Ming Aralia can usually be watered once a week. In the summer months, increase this amount to twice a week.
Saturate the soil when you water this evergreen shrub. Avoid frequent shallow watering, as this encourages the roots to grow shorter and dry out.
Ming Aralia has delicate roots, so well-draining soil is required to balance its need for water while avoiding root rot.
Ming Aralia prefers slightly acidic soil with a pH of around 6.0-6.5. A soil mix with organic material like sphagnum peat moss and pine bark will provide acidity along with adequate drainage.
Dense materials like moss also help provide the plant’s shallow roots with enough support to hold the roots in place. Since this plant has such a thick stem, it tends to get heavy and may fall over otherwise.
How Often Should You Mist a Ming Aralia?
Humidity and warmth are absolute necessities to keep your Ming Aralia happy.
Similar to its native tropical environment, Ming Aralia prefers temperatures between 65°F and 85°F (18-30°C). Indoor temperatures should not reach lower than 60°F (15°C) or else your Ming Aralia may begin to drop its leaves.
Humidity levels in your home should ideally hover at around 50% to keep this plant happy. Use a humidity gauge to monitor when the humidity drops in the cold winter months.
Misting the leaves daily will help maintain this humidity. You can also run a cool-mist humidifier periodically to increase humidity levels.
Ming Aralia is a great candidate for bathrooms and kitchens, or any other area of your home that receives bright light, warmth, and higher than average humidity.
Is Ming Aralia an Indoor Plant?
Due to its need for warmth and humidity, Ming Aralia is commonly enjoyed as an indoor potted houseplant.
But in the right environment, this plant also thrives in outdoor gardens. In fact, this plant grows so well outdoors it can reach heights of up to 10 feet (3 m)! But its survival is limited to USDA zones 12b, 13a, and 13b, which are mainly tropical regions. It’s common to find Ming Aralias planted as outdoor hedges in these grow zones.
How Do You Make Ming Aralia Bushy?
Ming Aralia tends to grow upward rather than outward. But as an indoor plant, it’s important to prune back these branches regularly to keep them from getting too tall. Pruning will also help make the foliage look bushy and full.
It’s best to prune Ming Aralia in the winter when it’s not growing very fast. This will ensure that the plant can put all its energy into producing new growth in the warmer seasons.
It’s recommended to trim your plant from the branch tips. This will bring the joints of the branches closer together. When new stems grow from these joints, they will produce more leaves and thicker foliage.
If you regularly prune your plant from a young age, you can easily control how it looks. Less pruning means you’ll have a leggier trunk with sparse leaves on top. Regular pruning will give you that nice bushy effect.
Because of their thick, flexible trunk, Ming Aralia can also be pruned as an attractive bonsai.
Common Ming Aralia Problems
The two most common issues with Ming Aralia plants are yellow leaves and dropped leaves. This plant is adored for its wispy, fine foliage, so issues like these are certainly cause for concern. Let’s look at what causes these problems, and how to fix them.
Why Is My Ming Aralia Turning Yellow?
Although this plant is relatively easy to take care of, Ming Aralia is very particular about its soil. Yellow leaves can be an indication that your plant is not getting the nutrients it needs. Very often, this is because the soil is waterlogged.
Waterlogged soil prevents oxygen from flowing freely through the soil. Without oxygen, the roots die off and the plant is unable to take in the water and nutrients required to survive.
If you start to notice yellow leaves, this is a sign that your soil doesn’t have enough drainage. Make sure your pot has drainage holes on the bottom, and a saucer for excess water to drain into. It’s also possible that the soil is simply retaining too much water due to an unsuitable soil mix. Ming Aralias prefer a well-draining mix with minimal to no soil, and lots of organic material like pine bark.
Why Do Aralia Leaves Fall Off?
Leaves falling off your Ming Aralia plant can be devastating. Nobody wants to be left with a naked, dead-looking plant in their home.
There are three main reasons why a Ming Aralia would drop its leaves. As mentioned before, overwatering is the most common issue. Yellow leaves eventually become dead leaves and they start to shed due to a lack of nutrients.
Ming Aralias are very sensitive to cold temperatures. If a plant is exposed to temperatures lower than 60°F (15°C), there’s a chance it will go into shock and drop its leaves. Make sure your plant isn’t housed next to an air conditioner, and keep it away from drafty areas in the winter.
The third reason for dropped leaves is salt buildup. Salt buildup in plants is usually caused by salt in tap water or improper fertilization.
Water softeners increase the sodium in your tap water. When you use this water on your plant, the salt builds up over time. If your tap water has water softener in it, try using distilled water for your houseplants instead.
When it comes to fertilizer, always ensure you properly dilute it and only apply the necessary amount. Over-application can cause salt burn on the roots.
Ming Aralia Plant Benefits
Before it became a houseplant, Ming Aralia bark, leaves, and roots were used in traditional medicine. Its leaves in particular have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Traditionally, the leaves are made into tea and used as a diuretic.
Ming Aralia is also an excellent air purifier. As a bonsai, this plant also helps reduce stress with its calm presence. The interaction with nature from pruning your bonsai tree is also thought to help humans unleash creativity and generate compassion.
Dangers of Ming Aralia Plants
Ming Aralia, particularly its sap, can cause skin irritation in humans. The skin irritation only lasts a few minutes, but gloves are always recommended if you’re handling this plant.
Avoid this plant if you have pets, since it is proven toxic to cats and dogs. This is due to the presence of toxins such as saponins, which cause burning, redness, and swelling. Although it’s rare, ingestion of this plant can be fatal to pets.
Keep your furry friends safe by displaying this plant in a pet-free room, or avoid it altogether.
If you’re looking for something a little different than your typical leafy tropical plant, this ornamental shrub may be calling to you! Its attractive leaves and woody trunk give it a minimalist, earthy look that can be very appealing.
The most difficult part about owning this plant is the requirement to prune it regularly. This helps keep the tree at a manageable height, and also makes the foliage nice and thick.
If you live in a colder environment, use a humidifier or mist your Ming Aralia daily so it gets the tropical humidity it needs. Avoid overwatering the plant by ensuring your soil has adequate drainage and be sure your Ming Aralia gets around 6-8 hours of indirect sunlight per day.
And perhaps most importantly, give this plant the warmth it needs. Keep your indoor space at a minimum of 60°F (15°C). The toastier, the better!