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Last updated on January 21st, 2020

When it comes time to prune your Fatsia Japonica also known as Japanese aralia or cast oil plant, you want to do it at the end of spring. The reason being the end of spring is the perfect time to prune in such a fashion that you can help your plant fit into space more effectively or you can get rid of any unwanted growth. They are very hardy and can be pruned by as much as half and will soon recover.

Ideally, you should prune after the risk of frost has passed to avoid any new growth from being damaged by spring frost but early enough to give it time to recover before the following winter.

  • The first thing you should do when pruning is to remove any of the leaves that turned yellow at the end of summer.
  • Thereafter you should remove any shoots that were damaged during the winter.

How to prune Fatsia

How to prune Fatsia and when

When you set about pruning you want to get a set of your sharpest gardening shears. These should be properly sanitized with a mixture of sanitizing agent you can get at a gardening store, or even a mixture of 9 parts water to 1 part bleach. This is simply to prevent the unwanted transfer of diseases or other problems from one part of your garden to the next. You might not be able to see bacteria on a set of gardening shears that made its way onto the shears when you cut away a sickly plant elsewhere in your garden, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Once your fatsia reaches maturity you might see some straggly stems coming out of the bottom. It’s important that you prune these here and there so that new shoots can be cultivated from the base. If you don’t remove these stems then your plant will end up with a completely bare underbody with bright foliage located at the top but nothing the rest of the way down.

Pruning established Fatsia plants

If you have a mature plant you can help to keep the bush the size you want by pruning it heavily, all the way to the ground for the older stems and back to approximately 60cm from the ground for the younger stems. Doing this will allow the plant to grow back the following year much stronger than before and should only be done every few years once the plant has reached maturity. As a general rule overgrown fatsia can be pruned back by half and will fully recover and usually respond well.

When you look at your fatsia at any stage of growth and you notice that the middle is overcrowded, you can start cutting back some of the stems to the central stem, that way you can allow for better air circulation and reduce the risk of fungal infections that result from improper air circulation. Removing some of the central stems will also allow new growth to emerge from the centre.

If you are growing in pots it’s important to prune more regularly so that you can keep the size and shape under control and keep it looking look.

No matter how you prune once it is over it’s important to add fertiliser to the ground so that you can allow the plant an opportunity to replenish itself after the pruning is over and heal properly.

Image credits – Shutterstock


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