Fatsia Japonica QA


Article by David Marks
Our main Fatsia japonica article can be found here. But sometimes our readers ask specific questions which are not covered in the main article. This page lists their comments, questions and answers. At the end of this page there is also a form for you to submit any new question or comment you have.


Date: 22 June 2019 From: Brian L
QUESTION: Can you take cuttings from a Fatsia?

ANSWER: Yes it is possible but the success rate is low.

I’ve never tried it but some information is available from the web page below:



Date: 28 February 2019 From: Norman
QUESTION: I planted my Fatsia late last summer. Recently some of the leaves have started to look like they are being nibbled on by insects. Yesterday I was removing the half eaten, sorry looking leaves and I noticed there is a short thick trunk in the centre of the plant. Both this and the new leaves growing are covered in a orange rusty coloured powder. Any ideas what this could be and how to treat it?

ANSWER: It’s not usual for a Fatsia to suffer from rust but not unheard of. I have no personal experience of it but the RHS have a page here which should help in treatments.


Date: 28 February 2019 From: Norman
QUESTION: I have just bought two Fatsias and want to keep them in pots. They are about 60cm high. What size pots should I plant them in and what compost. Also at what size should I replant and what size pot should I move them to?

ANSWER: A 60cm to 90cm diameter pot should be about right. Whether or not to pot on is really up to you, the vigour of the plant and what size you want to keep it to. It could stay indefinitely in a 90cm pot.


Date: 16 March 2018 From: Sue H
QUESTION: My Fatsia is planted in the garden. Last year it produced numerous flower-heads. Do you advise to cut these off? There is still a little frost around at this time of year in the UK.

ANSWER: It’s up to you really, the dead flower heads may provide some minor frost protection so I personally leave them on and remove them them in April when I feed the plant.


Date: 14 March 2018 From: Maureen
QUESTION: My fatsia was producing new shoots at the top of the plant but frost turned them brown last night. Are they Dead? Should I cut off the tips? Please help.

ANSWER: If only the tips have been damaged then it sounds as if the plant will be fine. I would wait until late spring before pruning away browned shoots. If you prune them now, the pruned area may well be damaged by another frost.


Date: 11 March 2018 From: Graham
QUESTION: I have 3 established potted fatsias, 2 of the 3 of them have been eaten alive by whatever! All new leaves virtually laced and the remaining strong part of the plants are becoming really shrunken and almost collapsing in on themselves. Strange! Lots of rust spots also. Any advice?

ANSWER: The problem is being caused by caterpillars. Often they are not visible because they come out at night. You might be able to see very young ones if you have a magnifying glass and look on the underside of the leaves.

In mid to late April cut the plant down to around half of its current size. Remove any remaining yellowing or diseased leaves. An established fatsia will easily recover from this type of pruning.

Next spray with an insecticide. One of the best chemical free sprays is the Bug Clear Gun for Fruit and Veg. For more complete control you will need to spray with a systemic insecticide such as Bug Clear Ultra. Spray after you have pruned your Fatsia. More than one application may be necessary.


Date: 02 January 2018 From: Karen
QUESTION: I have a well established caster oil plant outside in ground. The elk chewed its leave and some stems last night. Should I cut it bare on branches or down to base to try and get it to grow back. I live in Oregon zone 8. Its probably about 8ft.

ANSWER: I would cut the plant down by half in mid to late April when the likelihood of frost is reduced in your part of the world. This will force it to sprout new shoots from the base. If any of the remaining stems are badly damaged you can then cut them out when the new stems have grown. In the meantime, keep an eye on it and remove any yellowing leaves to reduce the risk of fungal infections.


Date: 27 February 2017 From: Richie
QUESTION: I have a fatsia japonica in a small terraced house front garden, I’m worried the root bowl is entrancing under my property. It is over 2 metres high by 1.5 width. It is well established and offers privacy but worried about roots it’s about 25cm from hose. Comments welcome. Many thanks

ANSWER: I’m never specific about planting distances because there are so many different circumstances.
But if it was me I wouldn’t worry about the roots of a fatsia japonica damaging your property. The roots aren’t particularly invasive.
If it was in my garden, I would be very happy to leave it where it is.


Date: 3 January 2017 From: Sue
QUESTION: My castor oil plant was hit by a bad frost last night and is very very droopy, have I lost it?

ANSWER: It’s not possible to know at this stage. All you can do is wait until the weather warms and see if it recovers. In the meantime, do NOT water or feed it. Best of luck.


Date: 21 October 2016 From: Maggie T
QUESTION: I moved two years ago and brought my potted fatsia with me. It was planted into a new bed. The soil here on the edge of the Tamar is free draining shillet. My fatsia put on a healthy spurt of growth and flowered last autumn. This year the leaves have started to yellow at the edges. Should I be feeding it? If so, with what? Thanks.

ANSWER: For those who don’t know what a shillet soil is, it is shale on a clay base. Some of the clay particles work their way to the top soil but in very varying amounts.

Given the situation you describe I would suspect that the leaves have yellowed due to a nitrogen deficiency. Fatsias are very strong growing plants so I wouldn’t go overboard with adding extra nitrogen fertiliser. Rather, I would add two good handfuls of blood, fish and bone to the surrounding soil now and then again in a couple of months time. From then on I would add the same amount every four months.


Date: 21 October 2016 From: Elaine S
QUESTION: Hi I have a lovely castor oil plant but getting a bit big. If I prune it from the top I assume it will look quite bare as there are no leaves at bottom. Will it come back or do I just let it grow? It stands at 8 plus tall.

ANSWER: You can safely prune your Castor Oil plant up to half of its current size. It will quickly produce shoots from the remaining stems. I would prune in late spring for the best results. A couple of handfuls of blood, fish and bone fertiliser sprinkled over the surrounding ground will greatly help.


Date: 8 June 2016 From: Irene L
QUESTION: I have repotted a mature false castor oil plant and I think I may have killed it can you give me any advice. Don’t know if I should remove leaves that look like they are dying. Thanks

ANSWER : If the leaves are definitely dead then remove them. If they show any life at all then leave them on, they may still be able to provide some energy to the plant. As to what caused the problem I can’t be sure. You may have moved it to a place where the conditions are not as good as previously. You may also have overwatered it. At this stage, water only if the plant is very dry and don’t feed it until it shows signs of recovery.