Darrell Blackwelder: Add a spark of interest to landscapes

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 10, 2022

Many want to add a spark of interest to their landscape by implementing usual plants. If this is your situation, you may want to consider fatsia (fatsia japonica). These plants have very large, green, paper-like serrated leaves that add both color and textural contrast to landscapes, especially for those that wish to add tropical interest. Native to Japan and Korea, this landscape plant is also known as Japanese aralia. It is an evergreen plant with dark green leaves that grow nearly a foot wide, however there are some smaller variegated cultivars available.

The plants grow rather quickly in partial to shady locations in the landscape. These showy plants reach a height of four to five feet in our area; however, they can grow much taller in the coastal regions. Be aware that these plants are adapted to Zone 8 making them a borderline landscape plant for extremely cold weather in the Piedmont. Temperatures below 10 degrees will often damage the foliage. Damaged plants rebound with a light pruning in the spring. Adding a slow-release fertilizer after frost allows the plants to grow and develop dark shiny foliage over the summer months.

Fatsia blooms

Fatsias will also adapt to large container plantings and are sometimes used as indoor houseplants. Another interesting feature of the plant is the unusual white bloom which appears in late summer and fall, adding a bit of fall landscape interest. Go to  https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/fatsia-japonica/ for more detailed information.

Darrell Blackwelder is the retired horticulture agent and director with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County. Contact him at deblackw@ncsu.edu.