Polyscias - Apiaceae - How to care for and grow Polyscias plants

Polyscias - Apiaceae - How to care for and grow Polyscias plants



There Polyscias Unfortunately, it is a genus not very widespread but with great potential due to its great adaptability and rusticity and it deserves to be better known as it has a truly impressive and very decorative foliar apparatus.






: Angiospermas


: Eudicotyledons


: Asteris











: see the paragraph on "Main species"


The genre Polyscias of the family ofApiaceae includes shrub and arboreal perennials, native to New Zealand, tropical Asia and the Pacific islands of New Caledonia.

The peculiarity of these plants that makes them so attractive is the very abundant foliage and their great adaptability, growing well both in cold and warm environments, constituting, in full sun, an excellent shelter from the sun's rays thanks to their thick foliage.

The flowers are small, green-white in color, gathered in apannocchia inflorescences followed by small red or black berries.


There are about 200 species in the genus Polysciasbut those that are normally used as ornamental plants are:


There Polyscias balfouriana it is a plant that in nature grows up to about 25 m in height thus becoming a real tree. It is characterized by coriaceous leaves, of a beautiful intense green color, with crenate margins.

Generally, the cultivar is found in cultivationPolyscias balfouriana 'Pennockii' with leaves typical of the species but variegated with white and light green especially near the margins. Another widespread cultivar is the Polysciasbalfouriana 'Marginata' with the edges of the leaves colored irregularly white.


There Polyscias fruticosa in nature it is a real tree reaching eight meters in height (grown in pots and with suitable pruning it is possible to maintain a more moderate size). A peculiarity of this plant is that growing older branches, the basal ones, tend to dry out leaving showy scars that make the stem particularly attractive.

Note 1

Note 1


The species Polyscias filicifolia it is an evergreen shrub that in nature even reaches 8 meters in height and is characterized by more or less mottled filiform leaves depending on the variety. It blooms in summer forming starry flowers united in terminal panicle inflorescences.

Note 1

Note 1


The Polyscias they are plants of easy cultivation that do not require special precautions.

Optimal winter cultivation temperatures should not drop below 13-15 ° C and can be grown without problems in full sun. In this regard, we remind you that they are plants native to tropical areas for which high temperatures and good humidity are the winning combination for optimal growth.


There Polyscias it should be watered regularly especially during the spring - summer period so that the soil always remains slightly damp (not soaked) and it is important to maintain a humid microclimate around it, both with frequent nebulizations and by placing the pot on a saucer with pebbles or gravel where water will always be present which evaporating will guarantee a humid environment.

During the other periods the irrigations must be reduced.


The Polyscias if grown in pots, they are repotted in spring using a mixture formed in equal parts by garden soil, peat and coarse sand. It is important that the compost is well draining as they do not like water stagnation.

It is preferable to use terracotta pots rather than plastic ones, allowing the earth to breathe while also allowing you to correct any watering errors.


It is fertilized only during the spring - summer period once a month using a liquid fertilizer diluted in the watering water and halving the doses compared to what is reported in the fertilizer package.

It is advisable to use a fertilizer that in addition to having macroelements such as nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K) also contains the so-called microelements, that is to say those compounds that the plant needs in minimal quantities (but hapur always needed) such as magnesium (Mg), iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), copper (Cu), zinc (Zn), boron (B), molybdenum (Mo), all important for proper growth of the plant.


Pruning is important if you want to maintain a contained posture. Generally, the thickest branches are placed at the end of winter-early spring to favor the opening of the plant and therefore growth. Eventually, if necessary, trim the hedges in the terminal part during the summer. Remember to always use clean and disinfected blades, possibly on a flame.


The multiplication of the Polyscias occurs by cuttings.

About 8-10 cm long cuttings are taken from the upper parts of the branches at the beginning of spring, at the vegetative restart, cutting with a clean cut immediately under a node and oblique as this allows to have a greater surface for rooting avoids the accumulation of water.

Use a sharp blade to avoid fraying of the fabrics and make sure that the tool you use for cutting is clean and disinfected (preferably over a flame) to avoid infecting the fabrics.

Once the lower leaves have been eliminated and the cut part has been dusted in a rhizogenic powder to favor rooting, arrange the cuttings in a compote formed by peat and coarse sand in equal parts, making holes with a pencil, as many as there are cuttings to be then take care to gently compact the soil around the cutting.

The box or vase is covered with a transparent plastic sheet (or a bag with a cap) by arranging some sticks so that the plastic is never in contact with any part of the cutting and placing the vase in the shade and at a temperature of around 20 -23 ° C. The soil should always be kept slightly moist, watering without wetting the rooting cuttings with water at room temperature.

Every day it will be necessary to remove the plastic to control the humidity of the soil and eliminate the condensation that has surely formed from the plastic.

When the first sprouts start to appear, it means your new ones Polysciasat which point the plastic is removed for good and the pot is placed in a brighter area and the cuttings are expected to strengthen. Once they are large enough, they are transplanted into the final pot and treated like adult plants.


They are not plants that are particularly prone to diseases.

The leaves lose their variegation

If the leaves lose their mottling it means that they are receiving little light.
Remedies: move the plant to a brighter position.

The plant loses its leaves for no apparent reason

The cause of this symptom may be poor watering.
Remedies: better regulate watering.

Presence of small insects on the plant

If you notice small light-colored mobile insects you are surely in the presence of aphids or as they are commonly called lice. Look at them with a magnifying glass and compare them with the photo on the side, they are characteristics you cannot go wrong.

Remedies: treat the plant with specific pesticides readily available from a good nurseryman. These are generally systemic products, i.e. they enter the lymphatic circulation of the plant and are therefore absorbed during the nutrition of insects.

Leaves that begin to turn yellow, appear mottled with yellow and brown

If the leaves begin to turn yellow and after these manifestations they are crumpled, you are most likely in the presence of a red spider mite attack, a very annoying mite. If you look closely you will also notice some thin cobwebs especially on the underside of the leaves.

Remedies: increase the humidity around the plant as a dry environment favors their proliferation. If the infestation is particularly severe, use a specific insecticide. If the plant is not particularly large, you can also try cleaning the leaves to mechanically eliminate the parasite using a wet and soapy cotton ball. After that the plant was rinsed very well to get rid of all the soap.


The namePoliscias derica from the Greek polys "A lot" e skia "Shade" as it is a plant that creates a lot of shade due to its dense foliage.

(1) Image by Forest & Kim Starr, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0)

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