Aralia, a decorative houseplant that often resembles a bonsai tree, is known for being easy to grow and requiring little tending. This small- to medium-sized tree features woody stems and branches that twist and wind around each other. Aralias feature green-and-white or green-and-yellow, deeply cut leaves. Over 80 varieties of aralia trees and shrubs exist -- research the best one for your decorating needs.
Dinner Plate Aralia
The dinner plate aralia (Polyscias balfouriana) features large round leaves, each approximately 1 1/2 inches wide. As the plant ages, it develops a thick, sturdy stem. It prefers bright light and temperatures that do not drop below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. When mature, the dinner plate aralia reaches heights of up to 4 feet tall.
One of the most popular varieties, the Ming aralia (Polyscias fruticosa "Ming") features finely textured leaves and branches with an upright growth tendency. This plant's open, fine foliage exposes the attractive branches underneath, giving it the appearance of a miniature tree. The Ming aralia can grow in locations with low light provided that the humidity level remains high.
A dwarf cultivar, the parsley aralia (Polyscias fruticosa "Parsley") features leaves that closely resemble the herb it is named after. It makes a good choice for small, 4- to 8-inch pots due to its compact design and side shoots. This aralia grows well in either full sun or partial shade. Do not to overwater it, and allow the surface soil to dry out completely between waterings. This plant prefers high levels of humidity, so use of a humidity tray is recommended.
Fern Leaf Aralia
The fern leaf aralia (Polyscias filicifolia), a shrub that grows upright and branches out freely, features leaves similar to those found on many of the commonly found fern species. These plants, popular in Hawaii and tropical islands in the Pacific, also make excellent houseplants during winter months and can double as hedges during warm weather. Although the fern leaf aralia may grow as high as 8 feet tall, it can also remain small with proper pruning. They prefer an atmosphere high in humidity and bright, full sun.