Common Fatsia Japonica Problems (And Solutions)

Fatsia japonica is also known as the Japanese aralia. This tropical plant is an excellent addition to your plant collection, inside or outside your home.

It’s ideal for adding texture and color to any leisure space and has a striking appearance with broad fan-like leaves. Although this is an excellent houseplant or landscaping plant choice, owners may face some common issues over the life of their plants.

Fatsia Japonica Problems
Photo by dan.kristiansen, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0, via Flickr

Consider the following issues and their solutions to help stop any developing problems and learn how to provide exactly what it needs to thrive and avoid common issues.

Common Issues

Learning more about common Fatsia japonica problems is a great way to determine if you want to raise this plant, where you want to raise it, and if it’s ideal for your space.

Although it’s a beautiful and eye-catching plant, there are some considerations that one must think about if planning to purchase or grow this plant.

If you already have one, you might already have these problems and need a solution to ensure the plant continues to thrive.

Please read more about the most common Fatsia japonica (Japanese aralia) issues below.

1. Yellowing of the Stem

There are several reasons why the Japanese aralia may begin to have yellowing leaves. Some common causes are as follows:

  • A lack of chlorophyll
  • Overwatering
  • Too much sunshine
  • Alkaline soil
  • Inadequate soil drainage

The first step is to determine which of these problems will most likely cause your stems to turn yellow.


The most manageable issues to fix are watering and drainage. First, you want to make sure your plant has adequately drained soil.

Use quality soil with texture and good nutrients. Add larger rocks to the bottom of the plant and ensure there is plenty of space to let the water drain from the soil rather than sit on the bottom of the pot.


Although this plant likes tropical conditions and prefers a healthy amount of water, you may need to cut back on the amount of water you give it.

If you water your plant daily, try watering it every other day to see if that fixes the yellowing problem.


If your plant is still yellow, you may need to adjust to the sunlight. If you have your plant in bright light for most of the day, try moving it where it receives partial sun throughout the day.

If it’s in a space with little light during the day, move it to an area with more light near an open window or on your balcony or porch.

Alkaline Soil

If you still have issues with the plant yellowing, try replacing the soil. If planted outside, you can add products to the soil to reduce its alkaline quality.

If it’s a potted plant, get high-quality soil and replace the current soil. Check the pH frequently to adjust it as necessary.

2. Uneven Growth

If you notice your Fatsia japonica is not growing full or growing sparsely, consider the following potential problems.

  • Improper pruning
  • Bugs
  • Inconsistent Light

Use the process of elimination to help you determine which of these issues is likely the cause of uneven growth.


If your Japanese aralia is growing uneven, it’s likely because you have it in an area with inconsistent lighting. It may begin to grow towards the light if it’s in partial sun or shade.

If you notice it growing more to one side, move it to a more open space with even lighting.

Improper Pruning

If you prune your Fatsia japonica too much, it may begin to grow dense at the bottom. Reduce pruning to allow the leaves to grow outwards more to even out the plant’s appearance and to help it avoid creating the ideal habitat for bugs.


Bugs are a common cause of improper growth. They kill leaves and stems and cause them to fall off and die.

These plants naturally attract them and are among the most common causes of issues.

3. Patchy Foliage and Browning

There are some common culprits if your plant has patchy foliage and browning.

Consider these problems and determine which is causing the browning or patchiness.

  • Bugs
  • Overwatering
  • Root rot
  • Sunlight
  • Bugs

As mentioned previously, bugs are one of the most common problems with Japanese aralia. They naturally attract various insects that can cause patchiness and browning of the leaves.

One common pest is the mealybug. They love Fatsia japonica, and the best way to avoid them is to keep your plants in an open area and avoid over-pruning.

You should use a natural repellant to help them stay pest-free. Plenty of organic pest repellents on the market are specifically created to keep houseplants like the Japanese aralia from being a pest magnet.

Keep these plants away from your home if you have them outside to prevent pests from entering.


Overwatering will cause your leaves to turn yellow and fall off. If you notice the plant turning brown and mushy, immediately remove it from its current location or soil and add some soil that drains well.

Preferably, add rocks to the bottom of the planter or at the bottom of the area where the plant resides. Cut back on your watering by half to start and adjust as necessary.

You can also skip watering days until the plant responds.

Root Rot

Root rot will cause your plant to die quickly. You’ll begin to notice your plant is patchy yellow and then brown. Leaves will start to die and fall off, as well as stems.

Transplant your Japanese aralia into a larger, well-drained pot or area and cut back on the watering. The problem usually relates to improperly drained soil with too much water standing.

These plants develop root rot quickly, so start with good soil and drainage.


Too much sunlight will cause the leaves to begin turning patchy yellow and then brown. Eventually, the leaves will die from too much direct sunlight.

If your plant is in direct sun, move it to an area with partial sun throughout the day.

If you have it inside and it only gets sun during parts of the day, you may also notice it turning patchy yellow and brown. Move your plant to a space where it gets more light throughout the day.

A west-facing window, porch, balcony, or covered patio may be an excellent place to grow your Fatsia japonica. A delicate balance of light is what these finicky plants need to do their best.

Related: Drooping Fatsia Japonica – Causes & Solutions