Facts, benefits, grow tips and care


The China doll plant is a widely available contemporary houseplant and highly well-liked. This plant resembles a tree with appealing, glossy, mid-green leaves separated into leaflets. This plant is relatively compact. China doll plants might be difficult to care for, but if you understand their growth fundamentals, you can enjoy having them in your house.

China doll plants are a lovely addition to any indoor home garden collection because of their small size and glossy emerald foliage. China doll plants are evergreen trees indigenous to Asia’s subtropical mountainous regions and belong to the Bignoniaceae family. They grow more efficiently indoors  and, when properly cared for, may mature to heights of 4 to 6 feet.


China Doll plant: Key facts


Botanical Name Radermachera sinica
Common Name China doll plant, emerald tree,                         serpent tree
Plant type  Broadleaf evergreen
Mature Size  4–6 ft. tall (indoors), 1–3 ft. wide (indoors)
Sun Exposure Full sun, Partial shade
Soil Type Moist but well-drained
Soil pH Neutral to Acidic
Bloom Time Summer (rarely blooms indoors)
Flower Color White, Yellow
Hardiness Zones 10–12 (USDA) when outdoors 
Native Area Asia


What is a China Doll plant?

China Doll plant is an evergreen plant from the Bignoniaceae family, native to the subtropical mountainous areas of southern China and Taiwan. The plant is characterised by its shiny leaves and is widely grown as a houseplant. The leaves have bipinnate arrangement, and are 20 to 70 cm long and 15 to 25 cm broad. These are divided into several small glossy green leaflets 2 to 4 cm long.

The plant produces highly fragrant, trumpet-like white flowers, around 7 cm long, and appear like a large Bignonia or Catalpa flower in their shape. These are night-blooming flowers and last only for one night and wilt in the morning sun. The flowers bloom during spring to early summer.


China Doll plant: Varieties

  • A total of seventeen distinct species of China doll plants exist nowadays. Due to its silky, satiny appearance, this plant is known by various popular names, including Canton Lace and Emerald Tree.
  • The China doll plant also comes in a few unique variants, such as the Crystal Doll, a yellow-green variegated variety. Asian Bell Trees, also available in dwarf types, are growing in popularity.
  • No matter which China doll plant kind you keep as an indoor plant, it is unquestionably an excellent choice to give your space a regal feel.


China Doll plant: Care tips


China doll plants may be fussy if the right circumstances are not fulfilled for them to flourish well indoors. The most crucial thing to remember while growing a China doll plant is that it needs a lot of light and moisture and does not respond well to frequent changes in its growth environment. 

China doll plants frequently experience leaf loss if their growth circumstances are unfavourable or change too fast.

China Doll plant: Sunlight requirements

  • For China doll plants to flourish inside, they need a lot of medium- to an indirect solid light. Pick a location next to a window but be careful to keep your plant out of any intense direct sunlight because it might burn the plant’s fragile leaves and result in leaf drops. 
  • If your house does not provide a China doll plant with the minimum amount of natural light (four to five hours per day, regularly), you may supplement with an artificial grow light to make it more successful.

China Doll plant: Soil requirements

  • Put your China doll plant in a soil mixture that is both wet and well-draining. 
  • Most times, potting combinations from the store are sufficient, but if you see that the soil is not draining effectively, you can add perlite or sand to aid drainage.


China Doll plant: Water requirements

  • Regular watering is essential for a China doll plant to be happy and healthy. The watering frequency will vary based on the season and climate in your home once the top inch of soil is dry. 
  • However, China doll plants should not be overwatered since they cannot tolerate “wet feet” and can quickly develop root rot if kept in water for an extended period. 
  • Choose a pot with many base drainage holes to avoid this problem. 
  • It is a good sign that the plant needs more water if you see the leaves turning yellow or becoming crispy. Black points on the plant’s leaves might also indicate overwatering.


China Doll plant: Temperature and humidity requirements

  • The warm, humid environment in your house is ideal for China doll plants because of their subtropical roots. 
  • While they can live in the ordinary dry domestic environment and should be kept in a temperature range of 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, they will flourish if provided with more humidity. 
  • Keep your China doll plant in a part of your house that usually has more humidity, such as the kitchen or bathroom, to boost the moisture surrounding it. The plant can also be placed next to a humidifier or misted daily.


China Doll plant: Fertiliser requirements

  • Your China doll plant needs monthly feedings of a balanced liquid fertiliser that has been diluted by half during its growing season (spring and summer). 
  • You can reduce your feeding frequency to once every two months after the plant’s growth has peaked for the year.


China Doll Plant: Propagation


  • Stem cuttings are a method of propagating China doll plants
  • China doll plants can be propagated, although it takes more time and attention than with some other varieties. Make sure your stem cuttings are green and not from the woody part of the plant when you take them. 
  • The stem cuttings can then be directly inserted into damp soil and wrapped in plastic to maintain humidity. The ground surrounding the cuttings should always be kept uniformly wet. 
  • Roots should start to sprout within three to four weeks if the propagation is effective.


How to grow a China Doll plant indoors?

Here are some useful tips to plant China Doll at home:

  • You can plant China doll any time of the year, when growing the plant indoors.
  • Use a moist, well-draining soil, which provides a solid foundation for the plant.
  • Opt for a potting mix. Add sand or perlite to the potting mix if the soil is not draining out adequate water.
  • Add perlite to the potting soil to increase its drainage properties and prevent root rot.
  • Pick an area that is bright and receives partial shade. Plant the China doll plant.


China Doll plant: How to choose a container?

China doll plants thrive when they are slightly root-bound, so it is recommended to select a pot for young plants that is comparable in size to their nursery container. It is preferable to choose a pot with similar depth and width, as this will prevent the plant’s roots from needing to grow excessively deep into the soil. To promote healthy growth, it is advisable to use a terra-cotta pot that allows moisture to escape through the walls, reducing the risk of root rot. It is important to always opt for a pot with drainage holes to prevent water from accumulating around the roots. Additionally, maintaining moist soil by watering the plant frequently is crucial.


Where to plant China Doll?

In the ideal light and soil conditions, China doll plants are low-maintenance plant. You can consider planting a China doll plant in your home garden. Make sure to choose a well-draining soil and water it regularly. Keep it in a bright, filtered-light area and avoid drafts. Avoid changing these conditions for the plant. In the lack of consistent environment, the plant leaves can start dropping.


China Doll plant: Pruning

    • The primary type of care for the China doll plant is routine pruning, which should be done regularly to keep the plant healthy and successful. 
    • You may trim your China doll plant whenever you sense it starting to get a bit out of control because it does not care when it is being pruned. 
    • Trim back stems that have become a little leggy. Stems that are malformed wither off every few months.
    • Make sure to prune above a leaf node, the point where a leaf is linked to the main stem.
    • Pruning must be done using sharp shears to prevent tearing the woody stems.


China Doll plant: Potting and repotting

  • When it comes to repotting China doll plants, less is more. Since they like to be rootbound, repeated repotting or disruption may cause leaf loss and general underperformance. 
  • Repotting your China doll plant should only be done when required, and even then, add one to two inches to the pot’s diameter. 
  • Root pruning, also known to help regulate the size of your China doll plant, is an option for repotting.


China Doll plant: Pests and diseases

  • Although pest and disease problems are not known to affect China doll plants, there are a few ailments to be aware of. Your China doll plant is susceptible to scale, mealybugs, and spider mites, like most houseplants, particularly if it is maintained close to several other plants. 
  • Neem oil, for example, is a natural pesticide that may be used to treat these common pests. 
  • Its illnesses, which frequently include fungi-like leaf spots, can be treated by gently lowering the moisture in the area around the plant.


China Doll plant: Benefits

China doll plants have many advantages, including indoor and outdoor growth. Their ability to clean air quality and give fresh oxygen can be practical for skin concerns. In addition, the leaf plays an essential role.

  1. These plants are elementary to cultivate and care for.
  2. Since China doll plants are non-toxic, you might leave your child or pet unattended with this plant. Your child and pets will not be harmed by it.
  3. China doll plant is both an indoor and outdoor growing plant.
  4. The China doll plant is used to purify the air and eliminate dust. It may also generate pure oxygen.
  5. In addition to helping treat skin difficulties, sterilise, and even heat clearance, the China doll plant offers medical uses for dealing with problems caused by poisonous snake bites. The leaf is a crucial component that is helpful, and it was utilised in therapeutic baths in ancient times. They also use other portions, including branches, roots, and fruits.


China Doll plant: Leaf issues


The leaves may get shrivelled if the soil is wetted excessively or submerged. The primary cause would be an issue with the water level, which may also occur in cold climates. Therefore, keep an eye on the soil since heavy rains might ruin the China doll plant.


When there is too much brilliant light, the leaves of the China doll plant begin to curl. Verify that there are not too many sun rays in the area. 

China doll plants often curl their leaves to shield them from water loss, which prevents considerable damage and allows the plant to continue developing. The best action is to move the location to a more dimly lit area.


If the entire leaf has been impacted, there are several causes. Other plants may need less water if the tips of their leaves become brown, but overwatering is one explanation for the browning of China Doll plant leaves. 

They require enough water when exposed to direct sunshine, but if you continually spray them or pour water on them without waiting for them to dry, root rot will eventually happen. 

The leaves will show if the plant receives too much of something. Always inspect the top two inches of the soil for moisture; water should be applied only if it is dry.

Yellowing of leaves may be a result of overwatering. Keep the plant in a bright area which receives indirect sunlight. Also, ensure consistently moist soil.


China Doll plant: Toxicity

  • China doll plants can be kept safely indoors since they are not poisonous to cats, dogs, people, or other animals, and do not cause allergies in cats or dogs.
  • In the unlikely event that someone or your pet cat digests it and has signs of stomach ache, please contact the local poison control centre.


China doll plant is a remarkable, quickly growing evergreen plant that does not require direct sunlight since it thrives mainly in indirect light. It is not dangerous to humans or pets as well. It looks beautiful and exudes a natural mood for home décor.

Although the China doll plant might be a bit meticulous, it is still a beautiful plant that will undoubtedly improve the aesthetics of your home.



Can the China doll plant be trimmed?

Yes, pruning a China doll plant is possible if you wish to remove stems or branches that are already dry or dead. You may also trim according to your demands to create a pleasant look. Many gardeners removed the stem growing on the wrong side during cutting. Trimming produces fresh stems. Additionally, this is a good step for the plant’s development.

What are the reasons for a China doll plant to die?

The soil above these plants must be checked to see if it is dry or not, and only a little water must be provided; if too much water is added, the root may rot. Your plant dying is due to various factors, including light and repotting.

Why are my China doll plant’s leaves falling off?

China Doll plants require wet soil that can drain water effectively and that can only be watered after the top surface has dried out. The plant may suffer leaf loss upon repotting if the soil is too dry. Water and moisture may be the two leading causes.

Why are there poles in the leaves of my China doll plant?

Apply pesticide or use organic neem oil to treat all pest problems since this can be the source of the problem with pests and insects. You can use a fungicide if the plant has a fungal infestation.

Is China doll plant a houseplant?

China doll plants are great indoor plants, and they may live for many years with proper trimming and site selection. Growing plants inside can be challenging, but if you get the hang of it, it is a simple operation, and you will enjoy taking care of your China doll plant.

Does the China doll houseplant bloom?

Mature plants produce fragrant, yellow bell-shaped flowers, in its native habitat of subtropical Southeast Asia. When grown indoors, China Doll Plants rarely flower.

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