If you are looking for a fast-growing, unfussy, exotic-looking evergreen shrub with large glossy leaves then look no further than Fatsia japonica.
Why this plant is out of fashion when similar plants like philodendron and fivefinger (pseudupanax) are 'in', is a mystery to me.
It has so many great qualities and physical characteristics, most notably its fantastic foliage.
The large palmately lobed leaves of Fatsia japonica grow way bigger than a spread hand, sometimes reaching up to 40cm across.
These splay from the shrub on thick green stems, giving the shrub a tiered look.
Like a lot of plants, Fatsia japonica prefers moist, well-drained soil but will cope in sandy and clay soils and once established it will survive challenging situations like under the eaves of your house or in shady spots below taller trees or palms.
It must be said though that the best foliage results come from a regular watering regime in the summer and when planted in only partial shade.
A plant of many names, Fatsia japonica is also known as umbrella plant, glossy-leaf paper plant, fatsia, and false castor oil plant.
Growing to around 2.5m high x 2m wide, this moderately sized shrub has as many uses as it does names.
Mass plant it or use it as a striking stand-alone specimen in multiple garden themes.
Fatsia japonica is equally as at home in the Japanese garden as it is in a subtropical, rain forest or woodland garden setting.
This plant is also a useful addition to the picking garden as the cut leaves are ideal for floral work and keep for weeks in a vase of water.
Birds and bees will flock to the interesting knobbly white flowers that protrude from the foliage mass.
Sadly, this has resulted in problematic seed spread by birds and this has now been placed on the Auckland 'Naughty Plant List'.
However, it's still up for grabs elsewhere in the country.