Mystery House Plant

green_thumb15(z8 OR)June 15, 2011

I'm up visiting a friend in Washington State helping her clean her house in preparation for moving. She has a rather pathetic looking houseplant that she has had for years (which in and of itself is a miracle, she is the first to admit she has black thumbs), that is not surprisingly looking rather sad. I'm guessing it desperately needs repotting, some new soil and fertilizer and possibly some pruning, but I know some houseplants don't like these things or like them done a certain way. I tried looking online for it's identity, but haven't been able to find anything as to what it is. I would like to know what it is so I can care for it best and hopefully perk it back up for her.

It's about 5 feet tall, on somewhat woody stalks (the older growth trunk and branches are brown/barky looking, though I haven't cut it to see how fiberous it is.) with large (6-7 inches long and almost as wide) very round with a slight spade shape leaves that are a very dark green with visible veins.

Thanks so much for any help with identification and care tips.


Here is a link that might be useful: Mystery plant photos

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I think it's a Balfour Aralia. When you get a chance, Google 'aralia balfour, pictures.'

Hopefully, others chime in...Toni

    Bookmark   June 15, 2011 at 3:11PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Well Toni, not quite, not my beloved Balfour Aralia (which as I've been taught is variegated by definition). Not sure if you can tell, it's a bit tough to see in these pix, this one is solid green, no white.

So it's not Balfour, just an Aralia or Polyscias, maybe one called Aralia 'Ruffles'. Nice plant, yes could use some work.

Hi GT,

The best light for these is bright, indirect, if you repot, then don't fertilize at the same time; bedsides if you use new mix one doesn't need fertilizer for at least 4-6 months. I'd suggest some African Violet mix w/ extra perlite, maybe 1/3 as much perlite by volume; the aim here is to lighten the mix & keep it fast draining.

I'd remove the dead, dried up foliage, & use a pebble tray. The pebble tray makes all the difference w/ this plant as it likes some humidity, but also needs to dry out btwn waterings. Yes that MAY sound contradictory, but it's not.

I'd trim off all that tall, leggy growth & just leave the central growths which look nicely compact. The cuttings can be placed back into the Mother plant's pot OR rooted in water; either way one you can start another plant. One would place 3 cuttings (once rooted) in a small, plastic pot, say 3" diameter not much larger.

Lots of folks have trouble w/ this plant, so the fact that it's still alive is a VERY good thing!

    Bookmark   June 15, 2011 at 5:00PM
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