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Almanac Planting Sun King (Japanese Spikenard) Aralia cordata

Aralia Sun King (Japanese Spikenard)

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Aralia cordata


Uses: Fast growing anchor plant for shaded areas. 

Benefits: Attracts Pollinators, 2020 Perennial Plant Association's Plant of the Year, Deer Resistant 

Zones: 3 - 9

Sun: Partial Shade to Shade

Life Cycle: Perennial 

Mature Height: 48" 

Mature Width: 48" 

Bloom Season: Summer


Aralia cordata 'Sun King', commonly known as Japanese Spikenard, was named the 2020 Perennial Plant Association's Plant of the Year for good reason. 

They're perfect for shaded areas and areas that receive partial shade. It's not suggested to keep them in areas that get more than 6 hours of full sun a day. 

The amount of sun that they receive will directly impact the color of their foliage. Partially shaded areas will typically produce leaves that are yellow in color. Heavily shaded areas will likely yield lime-green leaves. Expect varying shades of chartreuse if your Sun King is getting around 3 hours of full sun a day.  

Aralia cordata 'Sun King' grows beautiful 2' tall clusters of small white flowers in the summer that are loved by bees and butterflies alike. The flowers eventually turn into visually attractive, small deep-purple berries that are unable to be ate by people, but provide a very desirable source of food for birds. 

Is known to tolerate deer and wet locations. 


Japanese Spikenard Care

Aralia cordata 'Sun King' is known to be extremely low maintaitence and requires minimum care. 

Prune to control growth as necessary. It's best to do any heavy pruning and trimming during periods of dormancy, such as late fall (after flowering) or early spring. 

Fertilizations will accelerate growth and keep your plant well fed. We suggest using our slow release fertilizer, or something similiar such as a suitable fertilizer stake. 

Aralia cordata 'Sun King' should ideally receive no more than 6 hours of full sun a day. It has been known to grow in full sun, but such a situation will likely require regular irrigation to keep its soil moist. 

Water regularly after planting until established, or in periods of drought. Is known to tolerate wet soil, although ideal soil is moist, rich, and well draining. 

Is known to thrive in a variety of soils, from clay to shale... even acidic soil.

Typically dies back in the winter, and comes back in the spring. 


Size of 'Sun King' for Sale

We ship our Aralia cordata 'Sun King' in a 4" grow pot. The plant will be appropriately sized for its pot. 

Size of 'Sun King' When Fully Grown

Aralia cordata 'Sun King' typically grows in a somewhat mound-like shape to an average size of around 48" x 48". Some people have plants that max out around 3', while others grow up to 6'. 

Additional Information

Common Names of Aralia cordata 'Sun King' 

  • Japanese Spikenard

  • Golden Japanese Spikenard

  • Japanese Udo

Toxicity and Risks of 'Sun King'

We are unable to find any information that would lead us to believe that Aralia cordata 'Sun King' is toxic. Although its berries are not considered edible, they also aren't considered toxic.

The spring shoots of this plant are sometimes blanched, and eaten as a vegetable. The roots of this plant are sometimes used as a herbal medicine.