The Dizygotheca elegantissima, often called also schefflera elegantissima or aralia elegantissima, is in nature a large shrub, or small tree, evergreen, native to Australia and neighboring islands. In the wild it reaches some metres of height, whilst in container it keeps within the 150-200 cm of height, having, furthermore, a rather slow growth.
It has an erect posture, with a slightly roundish top; the stems are flexible but erect, of green colour, often spotted; the leaves are palmate, compound, formed by 7-10 elongated leaves, similar to fingers, with lobed margin. Usually, when cultivated in pot, it does not bloom, but this plant enjoys a great success due to the colour of its leaves, which are green-brown, very dark, almost black.
The Dizygotheca should be grown in a partially shady place, sheltered from direct sunlight but allowing good light, which is essential for good growth of the Aralia; during the warm seasons it can be brought outdoors, but with the arrival of autumn it should be placed in the house, at a minimum temperature close to 18°C.
They are not plants of easy cultivation because they require places with a constant temperature, without particular climatic changes, the ideal would be around the 25 °C and never lower than the 18 °C.
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From March to October, water regularly, taking care to let the soil dry slightly between one watering and the other; in winter, water sporadically, periodically wetting the substrate. Throughout the year it is advisable to vaporize the leaves with demineralized water, to increase the ambient humidity. Remember to use water at room temperature for the nebulisations and not cold, because the Dizygotheca could be affected by the thermal change.
The dizygotheca prefers rich, peaty, slightly acidic soils; an ideal substrate can be prepared by mixing good universal soil with a little sphagnum peat and chopped bark. These plants do not grow very quickly, therefore they can remain in the same container for some years, without needing to be repotted. It is good to replace the pot when you notice that the plant has reached such a size that the roots need more space.
For the multiplication of the Aralia, in spring, it is possible to make cuttings, taking them from the branches of the previous year; to make the cuttings take root better, it is better to cut the leaves at the base and halve those in the upper part of the branch. The cuttings should then be placed in a mixture of peat and sand and sheltered in a damp place with a temperature of about 20 ° C.
When the new shoots appear, the cuttings should be placed in a new container to allow the best development.
Aralia glamorous – Dizygotheca elegant: Pests and diseases
The plants of Aralia are often attacked by cochineal; their presence leads to notice dark spots in the lower part of the leaves. If the attack is limited, it is possible to intervene manually by removing the parasites with a pad and alcohol. Another method is to wash the affected leaves with water and neutral soap, to be rinsed carefully.
Otherwise, there are many specific pesticide products on the market that will need to be sprayed on the affected specimens.