Japanese Angelica Tree (Aralia Elata) – The Complete Guide

The Japanese angelica tree, also known as the Chinese angelica tree, or the Korean angelica tree, inspires as an imposing solitaire, coupled with an exotic aura and impressive presence.

If you don’t mind the toxicity and thorny bark, you can easily plant this unpretentious ornamental shrub and beautiful bee pasture in your garden.

Planting a Japanese Angelica Tree

In a sunny or semi-shady, wind-protected location, create a spacious planting pit in nutrient-rich, humic-fresh soil. To prevent the strong root runners from spreading too far, we recommend a 24 inches (60 cm) deep root barrier.

Place the potted angelica tree in a pot or bucket filled with water until no more air bubbles rise. Then position the potted root ball in the center of the pit.

Before filling the cavities with soil, enrich the excavation with compost, horn shavings, and a little rock flour. Extensive watering on the day of planting as well as in the following period paves the way for vital growth and rapid rooting.

Care Tips

In an appropriate location, the Japanese angelica tree requires little horticultural attention from its gardener. Here’s how to care for it properly:

  • Keep the soil in the bed as well as the substrate in the pot evenly moist.
  • Apply a starting dose of organic fertilizer in March/April, followed by another dose just before the beginning of the flowering period.
  • Prune and thin out the plant during the leafless winter period.

Since the Japanese angelica tree is a moderately poisonous ornamental plant and is mostly armed with thorns, we recommend wearing gardening gloves during all planting and maintenance activities.

Which Location is Suitable for the Japanese Angelica Tre?

The Japanese angelica tree prefers a sunny or semi-shady location, preferably warm and protected from the wind.

In order for the ornamental shrub to put on its opulent display of flowers, leaves, and berries, the soil must not be too poor in nutrients.

A humus-rich, well-drained and freshly moist soil will bring out the best in this Asian plant.

The Right Planting Distance for Japanese Angelica Trees

A Japanese angelica tree will only perfectly showcase its Asian charisma where it has sufficient space. The wild species, therefore, requires a planting distance of 13 ft (4 m) to the right and left.

For the more compact hybrids, we recommend a distance of at least 7 ft (2 m) in each direction.

What Kind of Soil Does the Japanese Angelica Tree Need?

The angelica tree feels at home in nutrient-rich, humic, fresh, and moist soil.

Good water drainage is of utmost relevance so that waterlogging does not occur during rainy seasons. Therefore, choose sandy-loamy soil, which may also have a slight lime content.

What is the Best Time for Planting Japanese Angelica Trees?

Most nurseries and garden centers offer the Japanese angelica tree in containers. Thus, you have the opportunity to plant the ornamental shrub during the entire growing season.

Ideally, choose a mild day between mid-April and mid-May or between early September and mid-October.

When is Flowering Time for Japanese Angelica Trees?

From August to September, an impressive array of flowers rises above the mighty leaflets. Look forward to huge panicles, dotted with small umbel flowers.

A single bloom lasts for 1 to 2 weeks before wilting. Don’t cut off the wilted flower panicles, because just a few weeks later they will turn into decorative fruiting spikes with dark mini berries.

Pruning the Japanese Angelica Tree Properly

Do not prune the late-flowering Japanese angelica tree until it has fully retracted and shed its foliage. A frost-free day between December and February is considered a well-chosen date for pruning and shaping.

Shoots that are too long can be shortened by up to two-thirds. Place the shears just above an outward-facing bud.

But do not hope for further branching when doing this. A Japanese angelica tree is very restrained in this regard.

Any pruning should go hand in hand with thorough thinning. Remove deadwood at the base and cut out equally puny branches. Please be aware of the thorns on the bark and take appropriate precautions to avoid injury.

Watering the Japanese Angelica Tree

A freshly planted Japanese angelica tree thirsts for plenty of water to advance rooting in the soil. Adult shrubs are content with rainfall and need to be watered only during summer drought.

In the container, on the other hand, there is a need for regular watering, as the substrate dries out more quickly.

Fertilizing the Japanese Angelica Tree

Fertilize the shrub in the bed at the start of the season in March/April and again shortly before the beginning of the flowering period in July with compost and horn shavings.

If the Japanese angelica tree thrives in a container, administer a mineral-organic liquid fertilizer every 30 days from April to September and follow up with watering.

Wintering Japanese Angelica Trees

The Asian beauty is hardy to -13 °F (-25 °C). Therefore, we recommend explicit winter protection in the bed only in the year of planting and generally in container culture.

Before the first frost, cover the root disc of a freshly planted shrub with leaves and brushwood. Wrap a tub with fleece, foil, or jute ribbons and place it on wood in front of the south wall of the house.

Propagating the Japanese Angelica Tree

Choose from the following methods for propagating Japanese angelica trees:

  • In early summer, cut semi-woody head cuttings, place them in pots, and keep them moist until they are rooted.
  • In spring or fall, cut 2 inches (5 cm) long root strands and let them root as cuttings in pots.
  • Sow seeds behind glass, sieve 1 inch (2-3 cm) of soil over them, and motivate them to germinate at 68-73 °F (20-23 °C).

To prevent the moderate toxin content from causing skin irritation, we recommend wearing gardening gloves during this work and any contact with the shrub.

Japanese Angelica Tree in a Pot

In order for the shrub to thrive in a pot, there are several criteria to take to heart. A volume of 5-8 gallons (20-30 liters) is important, as well as a location protected from the wind so that the powerful ornamental shrub does not fall over.

As a substrate, you can use any common compost-based potting soil, enriched with expanded clay, fine grit, or sand for best water drainage. A few shards of clay over the drainage holes will safely prevent waterlogging.

Is the Japanese Angelica Tree Poisonous?

The plant tracts of a Japanese angelica tree are suffused with moderately toxic saponins. We do not recommend eating the shrub’s flowers, leaves, or berries.

Pets suffer equally from unpleasant symptoms of poisoning when they nibble on the foliage or eat the fruit. Thus, always place the Japanese angelica tree out of the reach of children, dogs, cats, and small animals.

Beautiful varieties

  • Aralia elata ‘Aureovariegata’: Very beautiful variety with yellow-green variegated leaves and white flowers. It grows up to a height of 10-16 ft (3-5 m).
  • Aralia elata ‘Silver Umbrella’: Impresses with up to 3 ft (1 m) long leaflets and abundant flowers in summer. The growing height is 13-33 ft (4-10 m).
  • Aralia elata ‘Variegata’: A picturesque variety with white-green marbled foliage, white flowers, and spherical fruits. The growing height is 16-23 ft (5-7 m).
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Daniel Popovic, Owner: (Registered business address: Germany), would like to process personal data with external services. This is not necessary for using the website, but allows me to interact even more closely with them. If desired, please make a choice: