The ‘x’ in front of the name Fatshedera – or any other plant – denotes that it is a cross between two plants of different plants genera. In this case it is a hybrid cross between an Ivy (the common Hedera helix) - having between 3 and five lobes to the leaf and an Aralia - (Fatsia japonica) which has between seven and eleven lobes to individual leaves. (In the animal kingdom, it would be akin to crossing a horse with a zebra.)
Not surprisingly, the x Fatshedera has characteristics of both plants – the main one being that the leaves are 5 lobed – as per the ‘father’ (pollinator) of the parentage.
Fatshedera has lush evergreen foliage plant bearing shiny hand-shaped leaves of emerald green with lighter gold veining. The common name of Tree Ivy deriving from the fact that it resembles an Ivy, but with long upright canes of stems rather than the clinging or trailing stems associated the wide range of ivies. The stems generally require support to remain upright – or pruning if growing too long.
Fatshedera variegated foliage
As well as being a good general purpose houseplant, Fatshedera lizei is good for shrub borders or as specimen plant in container outdoors - being quite hardy. It may need cutting back hard from time to time, otherwise this evergreen may become a bit too leggy!
One very redeeming feature is it’s tolerance of shade areas. As such, it the ideal house plant choice for dark rooms or shady corners – always a difficult area to provide for.
X Fatshedera prefers to be grown in shade or semi-shade conditions, but with good circulation of air, and a moist cool atmosphere. A well-draining, fertile potting mix is advised. The tree ivy will also require a decent sized pot – not only because it is quite a substantial grower – because it will need a cane or moss stick support.
During the growing season the Tree Ivy should be watered very well once a week, and fed every 2 – 3 weeks. Reduce watering in winter to every 3 or 4 weeks, without feed. Whilst cool conditions are preferred, X Fatshedera can tolerate warmth, but not next to a heater. Either way this plant grows vigorously and should be trimmed to shape regularly. It can be trained to grow up a pole or mini trellis, or grown as a bushy shrub resembling a Fatsia.
Good for: Lush, vigorous growth, vibrant evergreen foliage, attractive, but could get quite big quite quickly!
It makes a superb trellis plant – either indoors or outdoors.
If it gets too big or out of hand, find a space for it outdoors in a shady area or in a patio pot. If you transfer the plant outdoors, do it early in the growing season and not at the onset of winter. It will need time to acclimatize, and may need additional cosseting for the first winter.
Propagation of Fatshedera is best carried out with tip cuttings inserted singly into pots and enclosed in a clear plastic bag. Air layering is an easy option,
There are several variegated forms as well as the standard green leaved types.
X Fatshedera ‘Aurea Maculata’ having light gold edges to the leaves.
By David Hughes - email@example.com