Spider’s web or spider mite? A fatsia in dubious taste

I like interesting plants. Unfortunately, not all interesting plants are beautiful. I am also a bit of a collector when it comes to plants and I like to try new plants, so I can tell people about them. Variegated plants appeal to me too and variegated forms are certainly interesting, visually and botanically, though I accept that not all are improvements over the ‘green’ forms. Variegated plants, as opposed to yellow-leaved plants, are usually not especially tricky but you have to remember that, because they have to support the white areas of tissue, which cannot make food and have to be supported, variegated plants are often slower-growing than their all-green cousins.

Fatsia japonica is an interesting and beautiful plant. It can be used as a houseplant in a cool room and is hardy outside too, though the foliage of the plants when used in different ways is also different. When grown indoors the leaves are thin in texture and soft to the touch while plants outside have tough leaves like plastic. Closely related to ivy (Hedera helix) and in the Araliaceae ( a fascinating plant family),  fatsia is a large, spreading shrub that, in time, makes a broad, large shrub 3m high and across. As well as being an architectural evergreen of handsome habit and form, it produces branched stems of spherical heads of starry, white flowers in late autumn. The flowers are showy because of the sheer number of them and they are a great nectar source for late bees and butterflies, as well as wasps and flies. So Fatsia japonica is an all-round good egg!

The standard variegated fatsia is a noble plant with thin edges, sometimes more, of creamy white. It is beautiful and the variegation is not too fussy.

Which brings us to a rather special, ‘new’ fatsia. I had heard about this some time ago but now I have one of my own. It originated in Japan where variegated and curious forms of plants are admired and acquired. It is a selected form of an established seed strain called ‘Tsumugi Shibori’ (tie-dyed cloth). The plant we now have was selected by Dr Yokoi and Mr Hirose of Iwakuni in Japan and I have to say I don’t know how it compares with other plants in the seed strain but presumably it is a good form.

Apparently Mr Hirose came up with the name of ‘Spider’s Web’ for this interesting plant and I wish he had thought of a better name.

Amazing variegation or bleugh!

Amazing variegation or bleugh!

My problem is that fatsia, especially when grown as a houseplant or under cover, can be ruined by red spider mite, causing bleaching of the leaves and death of the young leaves.

fatsia spiders web2

Anyway, I am not quite sure about the plant. I have seen photos of old specimens and they seem to look more attractive because the variegation seems to become more pronounced as they age. A small plant like mine has good variegation on the old leaves but the new foliage just looks like there is something wrong with it. When mature the leaves have a similar patterning to helleborus ‘Pacific Frost’ with random speckling that spreads to make white-ish areas, mostly around the edge of the leaves.

fatsia spiders web3

I will keep mine in a pot while it is young and give it the best start. Like the plain green I think this will be best out of full sun. We will see if it grows on me after my initial excitement and current questioning about whether it is a beauty or a beast.


Update 16/7/2019

This poor plant did not survive my return to the UK and when I got back to Ireland it was dead. But I bought another small plant last autumn. When it started into growth this spring I planted it in the new garden but a late frost killed the new leaves. Was I getting a message here? As the weather returned to something like spring it made new growth and is currently looking quite healthy. I still reserve judgement on whether it is beautiful or not.




, ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Sweetgum and Pines

gardening in the North Carolina piedmont

Ravenscourt Gardens

Learning life's lessons in the garden!

RMW: the blog

Roslyn's photography, art, cats, exploring, writing, life

Paddy Tobin, An Irish Gardener

Our garden, gardens visited, occasional thoughts and book reviews


un altro blog sul giardinaggio...


four decades of organic vegetable gardening and barely a clue

The Long Garden Path

A walk round the Estate!


Gardening on the edge of a cliff

Uprooted Magnolia

I'm Leah, a freelance Photographer born and raised in Macon, GA, USA. I spent 8 years in the wild west and this is my photo journal on life, love, and the spirit of Wyoming. Welcome to Uprooted Magnolia.

Interesting Literature

A Library of Literary Interestingness

Garden Variety

A Gardening, Outdoor Lifestyle and Organic Food & Drink Blog

For the Love of Iris

Articles, Tips and Notes from Schreiner's Iris Gardens

One Bean Row

Words and pictures from an Irish garden by Jane Powers

Plant Heritage

We are working to save garden plants for people to use and enjoy today and tomorrow


An English persons experience of living and gardening in Ireland

%d bloggers like this: