Dizygotheca elegantissima or False Aralia is an evergreen shrub or small tree native to New Caledonia and Polynesia. In nature, the plants will reach up to 26 feet (8 m) tall. In cultivation, their size is greatly reduced to about 4-12 feet (1.2-3.6 m) tall. The palmate leaves are divided into 4-9 leaflets that are 4-9 inches (10-22.5 cm) long. Leaves are dark green above and reddish underneath. Bark in new growth is reddish, mottled with cream colors, while older growth bark is a gray-brown. I consider this plant as one of the "old standard" house plants, which are currently seeing a resurgence in cultivation. They are very easy to grow and can be used as a landscape plant in USDA zone 11.
Blooming: Plants in cultivation rarely flower.
Culture: Dizygotheca elegantissima needs partial shade to full shade with a well drained moisture retentive soil. We use a soil mix consisting of equal parts of peat moss, loam and sand. Plants should be kept moist at all times, but not waterlogged. We fertilize the plants monthly with a balanced fertilizer. Since the plants are tropical, there is no winter dormancy period. Plants should be kept moist, but be careful during the winter months as the plants don't use as much water as in the hot summer. We do not let the nighttime temperatures fall below 65°F (18°C) during this period.
Propagation: Dizygotheca elegantissima are easily propagated by stem cuttings taken any time during the year.
Dizygotheca elegantissima was featured as Plant of the Week November 13-19, 2009.
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Cal's Plant of the Week was provided as a service by the University of Oklahoma Department of Microbiology & Plant Biology and specifically Cal Lemke, who used to be OU's botany greenhouse grower and an avid gardener at home as well. If the above links don't work, then try the overview site. You may also like to look at the thumbnail index. ©1998-2012 All rights reserved.