From Korea, Japan. Tropical-looking, sparsely branched shrub with long-stalked, big, glossy dark green, deeply lobed, fanlike leaves to 16 inches wide. Moderate growth to 58 feet high and wide (rarely more). Many roundish clusters of small, creamy white flowers in fall and winter; these are followed by clusters of small, shiny black berries.
A natural landscaping choice where bold pattern is wanted. Most effective when thinned to show some branch structure. Provides year-round good looks for shaded entryway or patio. 'Moseri' has a compact habit; 'Variegata' has leaves edged golden yellow to creamy white. 'Spider's Web' has new leaves edged and heavily speckled in white, fading to green as they mature.
Grows in nearly all soils except soggy ones. Adapted to containers. If leaves are chronically yellow, add iron to soil. During prolonged dry spells, wash occasionally with hose to clean leaves and to lessen insect attack. Control slugs and snails. Established plants sucker freely; keep suckers or remove them with spade. Rejuvenate spindly plants by cutting back hard in early spring. Plants that set fruit often self-sow.
In areas where Japanese fatsia isn't winter hardy, it's a popular indoor plant. It does best with lots of morning sunbut not hot afternoon sun. Allow the soil surface to go dry between waterings, but don't let the plant wilt; reduce watering somewhat in winter. Feed every other week in spring and summer and monthly in fall and winter with a general- purpose liquid houseplant fertilizer. Spider mites are common pests; use insecticidal soap or horticultural oil to control them.