Ming Aralia Tree - Need Help

haych2104December 22, 2010


I have had my Ming Aralia Tree for nearly a year ago now and I have given it plenty of attention during it's time with me and unfortuenately, due to a family emergency, I have not been able to go home for a while - apart from the occasional watering/feed and it has shown to tolerate the conditions until just recently.

I have ended up bringing it back to my parents house where I am currently staying because it's leaves were all droopy and wiltered and all the new shoots have gone brown and died.

I have tried giving it some TLC but it's not really picking up. I have since found out that it cannot tolerate extreme cold temperatures (which it has been -14 degrees C here recently).

It's looking pretty sorry for itself right now. The roots are looking well and the trunk is looking well - it's just the leaves and the new shoots that are looking bad.

If I keep giving it a warmer temp and TLC, will it gradually pick up and start re-growing again - or have I killed it?

I really hope it's not killed it because it's one of my favourites and I would be really upset to see it die.

Any help would be grately appreciated.

Thanks very much!

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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Hi Haych,

Sorry to hear about your plant, it can be especially upsetting when it happens to a favorite, as seems to be your case.

I haven't grown Ming in a while, but grow Balfour Aralia, a related plant which some folks feel can be comparably fussy. I say that as background to venture a hopeful GUESS that your plant MAY well survive.

It's good that you checked its roots & they look good.

I'd guess that warmer temps would help, try & avoid cold drafts; not sure what other TLC can be given now, I wouldn't fertilize either.

I'd go easy w/ the water & if you don't already use one, put a pebble try under the plant.

Unfortunately, all one can do is give it time & wait. I have found these surprisingly resilient, they CAN sometimes come back after a hard time.

Good luck w/ it & Merry Christmas!

    Bookmark   December 24, 2010 at 12:22PM
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From your use of Celsius degrees I assume you reside in Canada somewhere....14úC = 57úF....cool, but shouldn't be too cool for a houseplant in winter. Plants normally now are, while not dormant per se, use a lot less water...and to that you don't say how or when you give water to the plant. Does it drain properly and do you throw out such drainage, not letting it be drawn back up to the roots.

The plant's position in relation to sunlight, and to outside air or air from a heat vent. This can affect how much moisture the leaves are taking up. There is very little drier than a house in winter with the furnace on.
Cool nighttime temperatures are appreciated at this time....hence the 57ú is just about right.

You didn't say just how long you were away and whether you watered it before you went away. Most plants, given a good watering, and good drainage, can go weeks without additional.
If they are not growing then there's no need to feed--they couldn't juse it if fed.

Most problems with drying out will be noticed first at the bottom leaves of the plant...they are ones closest to the drying roots. Make sure the pot's soil isn't shrinking from the sides and hence, when you water, it goes straight down to the saucer...very little makes it to the roots to stick around. If that occurs, simply add soil to fill the cavity.

To assist in drying during winter months, try misting the plant. The leaves can then absorb some of the moisture without giving the entire plant a watering.
Watch how the sun comes through the window glass...too close, it can burn--even in winter, sunlight can be too much when close to the window. Draw it back some and as winter progresses, put it closer.
The days are getting longer now...winter solstace--the shortest day in the year---so the plant should begin to improve.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2010 at 1:15PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Has anyone been 'helping' you maintain the plant - like with watering/fertilizing?

When you water, are you watering just enough to give it a drink, or are you watering so much it ends up flowing out the drain hole into a collection saucer or down the drain?

Was it in a brighter spot where it was than it's in now?

What kind of cold has it been exposed to - including during the move?

I think it's unlikely that what you're describing is directly related to a light issue (droopy leaves/dead branch tips), so it's unlikely the plant will improve w/o intervention and correcting the limiting factor(s) ..... unless it's chill injury. misting is also unlikely to offer any relief, but it's possible that raising the humidity of the room might help slow transpiration, which might be helpful.


    Bookmark   December 24, 2010 at 1:38PM
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1. Was it OUTSIDE in the -14C weather? If it wasn't, that shouldn't really matter, then. How cold did it get INside?

2. Ming aralias are very rot prone. They also don't seem to need much water in general. Water when the soil is pretty dry, although don't wait long enough that it starts to wilt. Also a light, well-draining potting mix is a good idea. I think after potting mine up I only water it once every two or three weeks and it seems to be growing fine (although it's one of the few plants I keep indoors all year round, so it takes longer to dry out in the summer than it would outside).

3. From what I've seen, they don't really need a lot of light, either, but dislike having the amount of light they get changed suddenly.

Ming are apparently notorious for shattering, which means they drop all of their foliage. Repotting can cause this if you're not careful. Rapid changes in growing conditions can too.

If the roots look fine and the trunk is still firm, your best bet is probably moving it to the most well-lit location you can find, and being very careful about the watering. Only water when the soil is dry. And when the weather is warmer, move it back outside.

    Bookmark   December 25, 2010 at 10:28PM
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