Ask the Expert: Can you help identify this plant? It was given. It’s of the green plant family and has dark green leaves resembling ‘cow itch’. I would like to know name and caring instructions. Thanks, Danny
Plant Expert Reply:
Does your plant look like this China Doll (Radermachera sinica) – sometimes Aralia is attached to the name. If so, you have a delicate but interesting houseplant. The foliage texture and glossy green leaves are the reason this plant is quickly rising in popularity.
Although delicate, China Doll can make an excellent houseplant, if it is properly maintained.
China Doll Likes
It needs plenty of bright indirect light (at least 4 to 5 hours) and a moist well-drained soil. It is fussy about temperature. Keep it out of drafts. A normal house hold temperature of 65 to 75 degrees works well.
China Dolls like to be root-bound, so don’t repot until the roots over flow the container.
Fertilize this plant once a month with a water soluble fertilizer like Schultz or Peters houseplant food. To maintain the fullness and shape of the plant prune it occasionally.
China Doll Issues
This houseplant hates changes. Keep light, water and temperature as constant as possible.
Watch for Aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites. If you develop a fungus gnat problem, let the soil dry out but not to the point of wilting.
When you water, make sure you pour the water evenly around the plant. Uneven watering can lead to leaf drop.
It may sound like a high maintenance plant but really it is easy to care for once you get the rhythm.
***Speaking of rhythm – is anyone else hearing David Bowie’s Chyna Doll song in their head?***