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Sun King Aralia
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All hail the Sun King! This truly regal Spirit demands attention. Quickly growing tall and wide, with tropical-looking compound leaves, it immediately establishes a bold presence. Brilliant yellow color sends it over the top. In shade, the foliage becomes chartreuse or lime green, appearing only slightly less electric. Make Sun King Aralia the centerpiece of a mixed border, or make it the star in a collection of large container plantings. This bodacious specimen is perfect to use near your outdoor living area or anyplace you’d like to enjoy fabulous foliage all season long.
This species of Aralia grew quietly in Japan, Korea, and China for ages, nobody paying it much attention. It its homelands, the young shoots are specially prepared and eaten like asparagus; the roots are also believed to have some medicinal value. As an ornamental plant, it was never really on the radar. Then Pennsylvania plantsman Barry Yinger found Sun King Aralia in a Japanese department store nursery. He introduced it to the United States in the early 2000s, and it became hot, hot, hot. Landscape designers and amateur gardeners alike quickly fell in love with the newyellow version. We think you will too!
Sun King Aralia’s main claim to fame is glorious golden foliage, but it has other charms as well. In late summer, rounded clusters of creamy white flowers emerge from dark stems. These eventually give way to dark purple berries that attract songbirds such as robins and bluebirds.
How to Grow
Give Sun King Aralia a premium spot in your landscape. Ideally, it will have light afternoon shade, rich soil, good drainage, and plenty of water (drought is not its friend). Mulch with shredded bark, leaf mold, or pine straw to keep the root zone cool and moist. Shelter Sun King from strong winds. Although it looks like a woody plant, this big, bushy Spirit dies back completely the ground each year and starts anew in the spring. Cut the old growth back in late fall or whenever it begins to look unsightly.
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