Fatsia and Fatshedera, beautiful winter sculptures in the garden


Moderately hardy, these shrubs hate full sun, where the leaves burn or become discolored. They tolerate pollution and spray, which is why they are often found in city courtyards, or in seaside gardens. With their elegant habit, their magnificent foliage and good resistance to drought, this are plants of the future.

It is in partial shade – the foliage is wider, therefore more attractive in this exposure than in total shade -, in light and humus-bearing, acidic or neutral soil, that these shrubs develop best. If they prefer cool soil, when they have two or three years of planting they tolerate dry soil very well. Bring compost, water, then mulch. The following year, water every week, from May to September, then only in case of drought. Repeat the application of compost every spring

Alone in isolation, this is where their particular allure is well highlighted, with, at their feet, hostas, tricyrtis, ivy, periwinkles. You can also integrate them, in the background, in a bed of perennials.

The fatsias

Fatsia and Fatshedera, beautiful winter sculptures in the garden

These shrubs, which are sometimes called false aralias, can reach 2 to 4 m high and 1.50 to 3 m wide. If they were cultivated for a long time as a houseplant, gardeners and landscapers have found that they are able to live outdoors, withstanding temperatures as low as -12 or even -15 ° for short periods.

The large dark green leaves are escorted, at the end of summer, by ivory mini-flowers appearing at the end of the stems, grouped in slightly conical corymbs, followed by black berries… when the shrub is 5 or 6 years old, not before!

Houseplant, or outdoor plant? Both ! Fatsia japonica can be enjoyed in the house, in a bright room. If you grow it indoors, repot it in March every year, mixing compost with potting soil. It needs light, without direct sunlight, and does not like heat in winter. Be careful, in confined spaces, scale insects are never far away.

Our choice :

Fatsia japonica, the great classic, with its large palmate foliage, dark green, is eclipsed by its little brothers: ‘Variegata’, variegated with ivory, or ‘Spider’s Web’, with leaves splashed with silvery white. This variegation is very changeable, with some leaves being almost white, others almost green, over time.

Fatsia polycarpa is even more elegant. Its fairly sparsely branched stems bear, on long petioles, numerous large, bright green, leathery leaves, 15 to 30 cm long, deeply cut into 9 to 13 more or less tapering lobes and very openwork.

Fatshedera lizei

Fatsia and Fatshedera, beautiful winter sculptures in the garden

Aralia-ivy, false ivy, climbing aralia … Resulting from a marriage between an ivy and a fatsia, this small semi-climber transforms a semi-shaded corner, bringing a beautiful luminous touch, especially in its variegated forms.

The stems are barely 2 m high. Its thick and broad glossy, persistent leaves are accompanied, in autumn, by round panicles made up of numerous cream-white florets washed with green.

It is a plant that is particularly popular along the coast and in sheltered gardens. Quite cautious – temperatures below – 12 ° are harmful to it – it finds a good balance in regions with mild winters.

As it does not hang on its own like ivy, one of its parents, it must be trained regularly. And, to keep it bushy, so that it does not lose hair from the base, trim off each branch just after its spring growth.

It does as well on a trellis as on a wall, or along a tree trunk.

Our choice :

Fatshedera lizei ‘Variegata’ presents leaves oscillating between clear green and acidulous green, streaked with ivory.

Fatshedera lizei ‘Annemieke’, more bushy than the type, has deep green leaves irregularly variegated with yellow-green.

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