Contemporary Gardens: The Jungle Plant Fatsia Japonica – Japanese Aralia

I recently ran a post about one of my favourite architectural plants which proved relatively popular so thought it would be quite nice to run a few more. I have lots of favourite contemporary plants for the garden so plenty to write about for now.

This post focuses on the Fatsia Japonica, or Japanese Aralia which is probably the marmite of contemporary gardens. In other words, you either love it or hate it. When I first got into designing my garden, (thank you Diarmud Gavin!) this was one of the first plants I discovered that I just loved the look of. It is truly the jungle plant of modern tropical gardens. With huge, glossy leaves this evergreen is large and looming, even eery in its presence. Shade or sun, damp or dry I don’t seem to have been able to kill it. And I often have the knack for doing this.

In Winter it produces it’s flowers, creamy stalks of berries that protude in an almost ugly fashion from the top of the plant. And then in Spring it starts growing again, fast and furious, producing lots of bright green new leaves that turn dark and ominous as they grow. I have a couple of these in the garden at the moment that seem to thrive. I did lose one to the frost a few years ago, but the weather that Winter was unprecendeted. I don’t prune it although I believe you are able to do so, and many of the lower leaves die off in the Spring as the new growth comes through. I’m sure an experienced gardener can tell me why this happens.

I’ve combined one in a raised bed with ferns, hosts and bamboos and to be honest, it dominates the space. I know they can be huge, which would be a problem in our garden so I’ll keep it in check as the years go on, but for now it’s just about manageable. My husband isn’t a fan and calls it the Monster at the bottom of the garden! He wasn’t too happy when I planted another on the side border a few years ago. But for now it’s staying.

So, if you want an architectural evergreen plant for your contemporary garden scheme, one with drama and presence, you can’t go wrong with the Fatsia Japonica in my book.

Does anyone else have one of these? Do you like the look of it?

Jen Stanbrook
Jen Stanbrook

Jen is an award winning digital publisher and has been creating interiors and home decor content for over 10 years.
She has an insatiable love of home interiors, has worked with hundreds of brands, and currently supports many bloggers within the creative industries to share their expertise through writing.
She spends most of her time in her little garden office pod, has 2 daughters and 2 (fighting) cats.

Find me on: Web | Twitter | Instagram


  1. Emma Rogerson
    June 28, 2012 / 12:53 pm

    I have one of these and I love them when they are small to medium but they do look a bit ugly as they get big. I am keeping mine in check like you Jen! They are perfect for a tricky shady spot though and I do love those large glossy leaves. x

    • Jen
      June 28, 2012 / 7:10 pm

      Yes, they can get a bit monstrous can’t they. It was the glossy leaves that drew me in too!

  2. Danyelle Franciosa
    July 4, 2012 / 3:15 am

    This kind of plant is kinda unfamiliar for me. This plant is unusual right? I love to have this kind of plant in my garden. As I look at this plant it is ordinary but it is not. Thanks for sharing this kind of post.

  3. Rosetta
    February 5, 2015 / 6:43 pm

    I fall in the “love” group. It’s a beautiful plant that seems like a perfect gap filler in the garden. I love the big leafy plants like this. However, like you say, you would need to keep control of it or it may take over!

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