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Polyscias balfouriana 'Marginata'
Photo: Jardin botanique de Montréal (Josée Bouthot)
Polyscias balfouriana 'Marginata'



Origin and description

Polyscias are native to tropical regions in Asia, Polynesia and Madagascar. The 'Marginata' cultivar is used for its decorative foliage. This small shrub has grey-spotted green stems. The round, glossy leaves are dark green with a creamy white border. They may be rounded or divided into three leaflets depending on the age of the plant. This shrub rarely grows to more than 1.2 meters as a houseplant.

Species, cultivars and related plants

Polyscias fruticosa has deeply cut foliage consisting of three to seven leaflets with saw-toothed edges. It is harder to grow than Polyscias 'Marginata'. Polyscias guilfoylei, or false coffee, looks like a small tree. Only the 'Victoriae' cultivar, with its saw-toothed edged creamy white leaves, grows to more than 90 cm.


Polyscias contain irritating substances. Keep these potentially toxic plants out of the reach of children and pets.

Common name

Polyscias / Dinner-plate aralia

Latin name (genus)

Polyscias 'Marginata'

English common name

French common name

Botanical family

  • Araliaceae

Growing conditions

Polyscias prefer bright indirect light, especially in summer. They do best near a west-facing window. Temperatures should be warm year round (20 to 22ºC), and always above 17°C. High humidity is needed, or set the pot on a saucer filled with gravel and water and mist the foliage on a regular basis with water at room temperature.

Easy to grow?

Polyscias are easy to grow with adequate humidity. They rarely flower indoors.

Watering and fertilizer

Water the plant freely year round to thoroughly moisten the soil, but never leave any water standing in the saucer. Allow the soil surface to dry out between waterings. Three to four applications of indoor plant fertilizer or an all-purpose plant food like 20-20-20, from March to October, will be sufficient to meet the plant’s annual requirements.

Pruning and maintenance

Prune the stems in spring to control growth and encourage ramification.


Polyscias prefer well-draining soils rich in organic matter. A tropical plant mix is generally suitable. Repot only when the roots are potbound. To limit the size of the plant, cut peripheral roots back to reduce the rootball, then repot in the same pot.

See also

Pests and diseases
Physiological disorders

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