Learn which plants thrive in your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map!

How to Grow Walking Stick Trees

By Annita Lawson ; Updated September 21, 2017

Walking stick trees (Aralia spinosa), also called devil's walking stick, have gray stems and large leaves that sometimes grow up to 4 feet long. The most notable features of this tree, however, are the sharp thorns that cover its trunk and the spines that line its leaves. When planted closely together, walking stick trees make a very effective natural fence. This tree usually grows between 10 and 15 feet tall, but can reach heights of up to 30 feet if provided with ideal growing conditions.

Dig a hole that is the same depth and twice the width as the rootball of the walking stick tree. Plant the tree at the same level it was previously growing and replace the soil around the roots carefully.

Water until the soil feels very moist, but not wet. Continue to water whenever the top inch of soil feels dry during the first growing season. After the tree has developed a sturdy root system it is only necessary to water during very dry conditions.

Prune dead, damaged and spindly branches in late fall or early spring to control the growth and shape of the tree.

Cover new growth in early spring if a hard frost is expected in your area.


Things You Will Need

  • Shovel
  • Pruning shears


  • The walking stick tree does best when planted in full to partial sun and well-drained soil.
  • This tree is easily propagated by division, seeds and cuttings.


  • The fruit of this tree is toxic if ingested and direct contact with the roots or bark can result in skin irritation, so take the proper precautions if you have young children in your home.
  • The walking stick tree spreads easily from dropped seeds and the young trees are difficult to remove once established. Pull the seedlings when you notice them to prevent the tree from invading your garden.