Truly a botanical wonder, fatshedera is a plant created not in Nature, but in a French garden. Fatshedera is the result of an inter-generic cross between the popular houseplant, Japanese fatsia (Fatsia japonica cv. 'Moseri'), and the vine, Irish ivy (Hedera helix var. hibernica). Fatshedera really looks like a cross, too. It has the leaves of the ivy: palmately 5-lobed (rarely 3- or 7-lobed), evergreen and shiny; and the shrubby stature of the fatsia. Actually the leaves are larger than the ivy, up to 8 or even 10" wide, and the stems, although long and trailing, lack the aerial rootlet "holdfasts." And, fatshedera is more sprawling and vine-like than Fatsia, often growing upward 6' or so, and falling over to grow up again. The young stems are rusty hairy and pliable; older stems become glabrous and woody. In autumn, fatshedera may produce small white flowers in rounded umbel-like clusters, but these are sterile (as is typical of most hybrids) and no fruit is produced.
Inter-generic hybrids are very rare, and almost never occur in nature. Fatshedera apparently was a serendipitous hybrid. It was discovered in 1910 growing in a nursery in Nantes, France.
Fatshedera tends to grow up, then fall over and start growing up again. It wants to grow in a straight line therefore it needs regular pruning to remain shrub-like. Pinch the growing tips to encourage branching. You can even cut it all the way to the ground and it will come back quickly. Fatshedera is often used as a ground cover. Just cut back any stems that try to grow upward. This is a good plant to grow as an espalier, trained against a wall, or on a lattice. It doesn't have clinging aerial rootlets, so you will have to tie it in place. Grow fatshedera in a planter box on the patio or indoors for the large-leaved tropical look. It is tolerant of air pollution, shade and most soils. Because it can thrive in low light, Fatshedera is well adapted as a houseplant.
Hardiness: Zones 8-11
Plant Use: Evergreen vine or shrub
Exposure: Partial shade is best, but fatshedera tolerates even full shade.
Water Requirements: Needs regular watering for best growth, but is somewhat drought tolerant.
Bloom Time: Autumn
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