Aralia - Balfouriana
- Botanical Name: Polyscias Balfouriana
- Origins: New Caledonia
- Light: Medium Light
- Watering: Daily
- Growth Speed: Medium
- Grower: Expert
- Style: Table Top
- Home Decor: Ultra Modern
- Variety Code: 4
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Product Description - Balfouriana
Dizygotheca elegantissima is more commonly referred to as False Aralia or the Spider Aralia. The False Aralia is an upright-growing 3 to 5 foot plant. Its leathery leaves are made up of 7 to 10 slender jagged leaflets, each 3 to 5 inches long, arranged like fingers of a hand. They are coppery in color when they unfold, but then become such a dark shade of green that they appear almost black. When looking for an unusual showy foliage plant, aralias offer several outstanding choices.
Grown indoors since for over a century, there are several very attractive forms of aralias. The name aralia can cause some confusion when you are looking at plants. Those plants that belong to the genus Aralia aren't hardy in our climate and are seldom grown indoors. The plants used indoors and referred to as aralias actually belong to several very distantly related plant genera and all are tropical in nature. Because they are so distantly related, the care of each type differs, making it important to know what type of aralia you are growing so you can provide what it needs.
There are several types of Balfour aralia (Dinner Plate Aralia), Polyscias balfouriana, offering round leaves that are deeply veined, giving the leaves a crinkled appearance. Plain Balfour has large size, glossy, dark-green leaves. Its stems are also green and decorated by gray spots. Two common variations of Balfour aralia are 'Marginata' with leaves that are delicately edged with creamy white and 'Pennockii' offer foliage that is larger than the regular Balfour and is strikingly mottled with light yellow-green areas. They are excellent as houseplants in cold climates and as hedges in very warm ones. These plants are also excellent as Bonsai specimens. Other varieties : P. balfouriana (Balfour Aralia); P. filicifolia (Fern-Leaf Aralia); P. fruticosa (Ming Aralia); P. guilfoylei (Geranium Leaf Aralia; Wild Coffee; Coffee Tree) & var. victoriae.
Plant CareFalse Aralias grow best in bright indirect or curtain-filtered sunlight. If only artificial light is available, provide at least 400 foot-candles. Night temperatures of 65° to 70° and day temperatures of 75° to 85° are ideal. Keep the soil barely moist at all times. When watering this plant, as with many indoor plants, water thoroughly, and then allow approximately one-half of the soil to dry out.Unlike most plants, though, False Aralia sheds its leaves when watered too much or too little.
Feed established plants every four weeks from early spring to early fall with standard house-plant fertilizer diluted to half the minimum strength recommended on the label, but do not feed during the rest of the year. Wait at least three or four months before feeding newly potted plants. Repot overcrowded plants in very early spring, using a packaged general-purpose potting soil. Watch for spider mites, aphids, mealybugs, and scale.
False Aralia is usually shaped by pruning rather than wiring. Cut shoots back to one or two leaves when they have reached four or five. Removing its inner branches results in a more tree-like appearance. Partial defoliation can be used effectively for leaf reduction. It is a slow grower, but will form more buds in very humid conditions such as a greenhouse or plastic bag. Remove suckers from single-trunk specimens to encourage fuller trunk growth. The best method for propagation is to use root cuttings or air-layering. The plant suckers profusely, so division is another option.
False Aralia will also drop leaves when the temperature is too cold, the humidity is too low, and when there are excess salts. Balfour aralia prefers a warm room and will suffer if the temperature drops below 65 degrees; temperatures below 65 degrees will cause leaf drop. They also require high humidity and need high light. Extra humidity can be provided by placing the plants on a humidity tray. Balfour aralias should be thoroughly watered and then allowed to dry slightly before they are watered again. Plants like aralias are sensitive to over watering, as they will wilt when they are kept too wet. Wilting can also be an indication that the plant is being kept too cool or too hot.
Even though aralias don't like direct sunlight, they need good, strong light or the growth will become weak and lanky. Place the plant in medium (indirect) light. It tolerates full sun for several hours a day. Trimming back tip growth in spring and increasing the available light should help it fill back in. Fertilize them every 3 weeks during spring and summer with a water-soluble food. In fall and winter, fertilize once a month with a half-strength solution. The vast majority of problems with aralias are caused by lack of humidity. Dropping its leaves is most often the result of air that is too dry. Brown edges on an aralia usually develop from lack of humidity as well. Brown edges can also be caused by using a fertilizer that is too strong or by exposing the plant to a constant breeze.