How and when to prune Fatsia japonica

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The Japanese aralia or by its scientific name Fatsia japonica is a shrub that can reach 5 m in height, with evergreen leaves and small white flowers. As its name indicates, the origin of this plant is the distant country of Japan, although it is currently cultivated in countries around the world, especially for ornamental use. In this post we will develop everything about pruning Fatsia japonica, how and when to do it, with what tools and more.

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Interesting fact: if we analyze the etymology of the word fatsia, it comes from the name fatsi, which is an approximation to the Japanese word that means “eight”. This refers to the eight lobes that each leaf of this shrub has.

1. How to care Japanese aralia

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We will start the article with a brief review of the most important care you should take with your Fatsia japonica. You will see that it is not a difficult shrub to grow, that is why it is ideal for novice gardeners or those who have little time to dedicate to their plants.

  • Lighting: although it can grow in places with a lot of light, it prefers shady areas. That is why it is an ideal plant to grow indoors. In case you have it outdoors, take care of it from the strong sun rays of summer.
Pruning Fatsia japonica
Fatsia japonica
  • Soil: one of the most important aspects with respect to the soil is that it has a good drainage capacity. If you are going to grow it in a pot, make a mixture with two parts of peat, one part of perlite and five parts of black soil.
  • Temperature and humidity: You like temperate climates with a temperature range of 12-18 ° C. Temperatures above 25 ° C or below 2 ° C can cause problems. As for the degree of humidity, he likes a low percentage.
  • Irrigation: if it is outdoors, it will go hand in hand with the regularity of the rains. In case of having it in an indoor pot, one watering every three days in summer and every seven days in winter will suffice. Never puddle the ground.
  • Fertilization: A liquid houseplant fertilizer can work very well. The applications must begin in spring and extend until the end of summer, always accompany the fertilization of a good irrigation.
  • Pruning: although pruning is not a totally essential task for the life of the Fatsia japonica, it does serve as a maintenance task. In the next sections we will analyze this point in depth.

2. What tools do you need to prune your fatsia japonica?

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It is very easy to summarize the tools you will need to prune a Fatsia japonica, and it is that although it can develop a good size, it is a very soft plant. That is why you can generally cut all the branches you need with the simple help of manual scissors.

The lopping shears can help you on some occasions, especially if the bush has grown quite large. In that case, a ladder can also help you work more comfortably. In case you need to cut old branches, which have already become quite hard, you can use a saw. Of course, never do pruning tasks without the minimum recommended protections, which for that matter are a pair of gloves and glasses to protect your eyes.

Finally, always remember to disinfect pruning tools before each task. This will help you avoid potential disease payments among the plants in your garden. Next we will see how this disinfection can be carried out.

2.1 How to disinfect pruning shears

There are many ways that you can disinfect your pruning tools. Here we will see three of the most common and easy to do.

  • Method 1: rub the scissors blades with a cloth dipped in alcohol (ethanol). After cleaning, allow the tool to sit for a couple of minutes for maximum disinfection efficiency.
  • Method 2: prepare a mixture 1/9 of chlorine and water (one part of chlorine and 9 of water). Then soak the scissors for half an hour in that mixture. After those 30 minutes you can start pruning.
  • Method 3: this third method is effective but from my point of view not so recommended. Here what you should do is pass the blade for a few seconds through a flame. This will disinfect but also burn the blade.

You already have the three methods to disinfect your scissors before trimming your Japanese aralia, which one do you choose?

You may also be interested in knowing about pruning:

3. Pruning Fatsia japonica

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As you can see in the next two sections, pruning a Fatsia japonica is not a complex task, it is enough to know when we can cut and take into account only some fairly simple pruning tips.

Even inexperienced pruners can perform this task, which is mostly limited to maintenance and cleaning pruning. But let’s stop beating around the bush and get straight to the point.

3.1 When to prune

Pruning should be done on a Fatsia japonica from early spring to late summer. Cutting the branches ahead of time can cause the shoots generated by an early reactivation of the plant to burn with a frost. That is why pruning is never recommended when there is a risk of frost, no matter how minimal.

On the other hand, pruning during the growing season of the plant makes wound healing occur quickly. Otherwise, pruning during the fall or winter, when the plant is not in full growth stage, the wounds will take longer to heal, with greater risks than any disease or pest that enters through them.

3.2 How to prune

As a first point you should know that Fatsias japonicas are plants that support severe pruning very well, so don’t be afraid to cut branches. Although it is not one of the fastest growing shrubs, we cannot say that it is slow, rather its development rate is moderate. In a season you will recover your plant in case of heavy pruning.

Having made the previous clarification, it is advisable before taking the scissors to stop to observe your Fatsia. Be on the lookout for diseased, dead, yellowing, messy, broken, frosty branches, etc. Once these undesirable branches have been identified, proceed to cut them. In this cleaning pruning, do not be afraid to cut the branches at the base, do it especially if the branch is diseased.

In young plants pruning is generally light, what we want is for the plant to continue developing its size. We can blunt all its branches to densify the foliage and at the same time push it so that it continues to develop with more force. Due to its shrubby characteristics, you can give it the shape you want, if so, it is time to start with the training pruning.

When it comes to plants with several years, pruning seeks to control the size of the Fatsia japonica. A simple and effective pruning of large plants consists of cutting all their branches to half their original size. As I said before, don’t worry, in a few months you will have your plant fully recovered. A somewhat more complex and hard pruning is to cut all the older branches from the base, while the young ones are left at a height of between 50 and 70 cm.

As a final tip, I recommend that you use pruning to provide better air circulation and lighting in the central part of the bush. Therefore, if you notice that your Fatsia is very dense in its center, cut part of the central branches to reduce this density. This will help the health of the plant by preventing the appearance of fungi.

4. Extra: Pruning fatsia japonica uk

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The Fatsia japonica is a widely cultivated plant in the United Kingdom, hence the consultation on pruning this shrub in the United Kingdom is very recurrent. Given the recurrence of this query, we have decided to dedicate a short special section to talk about this point.

The climatic conditions of the United Kingdom make the cultivation of the Fatsia Japonica mainly as a houseplant. Because it is necessary to better control the size of the shrub inside a home, it will be necessary to prune more regularly.

Regarding the rest, you can follow all the advice that we saw so far. There is no special change when it comes to pruning a Fatsia japonica located in the UK.

5. Cutting back Fatsia japonica (Video)

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To finish the post, and as we always do on this blog, we have selected a video (in this case from the John Knoernschild channel). Seeing it will help you graphically review what you have seen so far, plus you will be able to verify that the pruning of a Japanese aralia is not complicated at all.

Do not leave our website before consulting about the pruning of any of these plants.

And with this we can end the post, I hope you have no doubts about how and when you should prune a Fatsia japonica. 🙂

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