Ming Aralia: Help!

I've had this Ming Aralia houseplant for a couple of years now. I've seen large specimens with price tags of nearly $100, so a few years ago I spent $5 on a small plant. It grew quite well for a few years, but then during the past year it started having problems.

Please keep reading, and let me know if you have any experience with these wonderful plants because I need help!


The problem I'm seeing is what apparently is called "shattering", an interesting term to describe the sudden dropping of all or most of the leaves.

It's quite distressing. The plant is fine, then all of a sudden it's losing leaves every day.

The plant has been moved to the basement near my grow lights (where I overwinter plants and will be growing my seedlings in the next couple of months) because it looks terrible and is making a mess.

From what I've read, shattering usually occurs when these plants are moved or placed in a draft. Neither of those is the case here. The only change was that earlier this year I put the plant into a slightly larger pot.

Now I've got an almost constant stream of dead leaves

and a pretty unattractive stick with a few leaves on it.

I almost gave up on this plant today and chucked it into the garbage, but the trunk is what earned it a reprieve:

I really want to save this plant but I'm just not sure what to do. If anybody has any suggestions for the cause and a possible solution, please let me know!

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Steve Lau  – (January 10, 2011 at 9:51 PM)  

I've found that a lot of houseplants have trouble growing indoors permanently so I'll bring mine outdoors whenever it is warm enough. I currently have a rubber tree, money tree, pothos, angel wing begonia, epiphyllums, dragonfruit cactus, and a few more, but they typically don't grow much while they are indoors usually from November until March.

Gene  – (January 11, 2011 at 2:41 AM)  

Possibly its from over watering. Since this started happening after the up potting, pull it out of the pot and check for root rot.

Alan  – (January 11, 2011 at 8:44 AM)  

Gene -- I've suspected that, as the soil always looks a little wet. I'll hold off until it's really dry and see what happens.

Makes sense I guess -- the new soil after repotting didn't have roots in it, so stayed wet longer. Thanks!

Alan  – (January 11, 2011 at 9:00 AM)  

Steve -- you have to be careful. Some plants really don't like to have their growing conditions changed too abruptly. Gradual acclimation to the new conditions is best.

But good point about bringing them outside -- they definitely do better out there, especially if you have smallish windows that don't let in enough light, and have dry indoor air.

Steve Lau  – (January 11, 2011 at 9:43 AM)  

Gradual acclimation can be challenging, but moving them to stronger light a bit at a time does usually get them to adapt. Also restricting the watering over the winter seems to keep them from putting out too much weak growth.

I'm thinking about grabbing a few mosos from the greenhouse and bringing them inside, but the zipper is probably frozen shut until we get above 32F. I just want to see some shoots for enjoyment.

aralia tree  – (November 14, 2011 at 8:58 AM)  

Nice blog. I was looking for this kind of information. Thanks and keep it up .!

Gaynell  – (February 1, 2014 at 9:18 PM)  

I have similar leaf drop when my Ming Aralias are inside that I believe it is due to low light. They perk up quickly when moved into the shadier end of my greenhouse. The bare stems can be cut back to a node and will regrow. They seem to do best if allowed to just barely dry out before watering.

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