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Hi, can anyone identify this large indoor plant. It was in an office and was going to be skipped.?

It's about 5ft tall and has 5 or 6 stems leading up from the main root/trunk. The leaves are about 5in by 4in. I would also like to know how best to look after it. The bottom couple of ft is mainly bare and the leaves are yellowing and some are falling off. It seems to have some sort of water reservoir in the pot with a tube leading up to the surface. As you will have noticed my skils are limited but I just couldn't see it thrown out. Hopefully there are a couple of photos attached. Thanks, Graham

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It's a Shield Aralia (Polyscias scutellaria). In my experience, it likes medium to bright light, fast draining compost on the dry side, but not parched, and regular, light feedings with a low phosphate food. Watch out for scale or mealybugs.
Yours looks like it could use a little more light and food, and it may have also had drainage issues.

9 Sep, 2016


Hi, thanks for identifying it, I can now google it and read up. As I mentioned I've no real experience with large indoor plants, I just couldn't see it thrown out. Most of the problems appear to be with watering, either too wet or too dry. Can you give me a "ball park" amount to get me started then I'll fine tune it. Is it a cup full of tepid water every couple of days, a jug full once a week or is it a gallon every month. It's in an 18in pot with a plastic tube up from the base. Is there some sort of reservoir in the bottom. Do I water it down this tube ?. Sorry to sound thick but each to their own.
Thanks, Graham

10 Sep, 2016


Well, it depends on the temperature and humidity as to how often you water. The amount is always the same: enough! The idea is to saturate the compost, and then let it drain so that air enters from the top. At a guess, a pot the size that that one looks to be will need 2-3 liters at a time. You then let it dry out until the top 2 cm of compost is dry, before watering again. In my area, where houses tend to be warm and dry, a typical watering schedule would be a thorough soaking every 2 weeks. There probably is a reservoir at the bottom--it's what they call a "self-watering" pot, and it is a lousy way of growing this plant, since it likes to dry a little between watering.

11 Sep, 2016


Hi, thanks again. I live in the north of England (not sure how far this group extends) usual central heated house. So as a starting point 2 to 3 Litre of tepid water every couple of weeks. That's over the soil I assume not down that pipe. The plants in the showroom it came out of were looked after by contractors so the reservoir in the bottom was a cheap fix for them, not best for the plant.

11 Sep, 2016


Hmmm...not so much a cheap fix for the contractors as a very clean look for the showroom. They don't usually worry about the long term health of the plants, since they replace them on a regular schedule. In fact, I'm surprised that they let you keep the pot, since those things are pretty pricey.
If you are going to keep it in that pot, I would keep the reservoir about 8 cm full, and add a tiny amount of fertilizer about every 6 months--though, as I said, better off in a more conventional pot, with a fast draining mix.

11 Sep, 2016


Yes it is a posh pot, it's even on wheels. My son and me still nearly ruptured ourselves getting it into my house. The plant is his but he's come to live with us for 2mths until his new house is ready so unfortunately it will have to be moved again. I've no idea what the reservoir looks like in the bottom of the pot. How do you tell how much water is in it. Can we not just use it as an ordinary pot and water over the compost from the top as normal.
Thanks, again.

12 Sep, 2016


Easiest way would be to poke a narrow wooden stake down the tube to the bottom, and see how much comes up wet. It may be difficult to look, but if there is a plug on the bottom of the pot, you can pull it, put the pot into a standard saucer, and use it as any other pot. If there is no plug--as is the case in some brands--your only choice is to repot.

13 Sep, 2016

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