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China Doll Plant – An Evergreen Alluring Addition to Your Home

china doll plant

Nothing uplifts the environment of your home like the verdant green luxuriance of the China Doll plant! But wait! If you’re expecting doll-shaped leaves or something similar, you’d be disappointed.

Also known as the Radermachera Sinica, the China Doll plant with its lustrous emerald leaves and feathery texture makes for an alluring addition to your houseplant collection.

It is native to the subtropical mountainous areas of Asia and is an evergreen tree belonging to the Bignoniaceae family. China Doll plant is moderately fast-growing and can reach heights between 4 and 6 feet when mature.

When growing in-house, your precious China Doll plant grows all year long. It is a little demanding when it comes to growing conditions especially, the light and soil.

But if you care for it, you’ll get a feathery yet velvety plant popping greenery to any corner of your house.

A reasonably new houseplant, the China Doll, is becoming very popular among gardeners. It is like a tree, with appealing, sleek, mid-green leaves dividing into leaflets. 

Let’s see what makes the China Doll an attractive houseplant.

Characteristics of China Doll Plant

General information on the china doll plant:

Family Bignoniaceae
Genus Radermachera 
Botanical NameRadermachera Sinica
Common Name(s)China Doll Plant, Serpent Tree, Emerald Tree
Plant Type Broadleaf Evergreen Houseplant 
Sun Exposure Full Sun, Partial Shade
Soil TypeMoist but Well-Drained
Soil PhNeutral to Acidic
Bloom TimeSummer (Rarely Blooms Indoors)
Flower Color White, Yellow
Hardiness Zone10-12 USDA When Outdoors
Native AreaAsia 
Toxicity Non-Toxic 
Height 1-3 Feet, 3-8 Feet
Width 1-3 Feet
Foliage Color Blue/Green
Propagation Stem Cutting 


China Doll Plant Varieties

There are about 17 species of Asian Radermachera, and among them, the China Doll plant is the most famous one. You may also know this plant by other common names such as Emerald tree and Canton Lace, owing to its soft and satiny look.

There are also a few uncommon varieties of the China Doll plant, including a yellow-green variegated cultivar, namely Crystal Doll. Dwarf varieties are also available and becoming more popular by the name Asian Bell Trees.

Regardless of the China Doll variant, you keep as an indoor plant, it is surely an excellent choice to add a royal vibe to your place.

Growing and Caring Tips for Your China Doll Plant

While caring for the China Doll plant can be a delicate affair, once you know the fundamental growing requirements of the plant, you can relish their existence in your home.

Let’s see what we can provide to this plant for its better growth!

Bright and Indirect Sunlight

The China Doll plant expects a lot of moderate to bright indirect sunlight to grow well indoors. Pick a location in the vicinity of a window, but make sure to shield your houseplant from any direct exposure to sunlight, as it can burn down the plant’s leaves and trigger leaf drops.

China Doll trees planted outdoors flourish in full sunlight, but they can be a little extra delicate to direct light while indoors.

Your China Doll plant needs 4 to 5 hours of bright indirect light per day, consistently. So, make sure it gets what it needs to flourish.

They can survive in less light, but if you want a fast and thick growth of your lovely plant, you must allow bright illumination for that.

Make sure not to abruptly increase lighting, as this can lead to leaf scorch.


Select a moist yet well-draining potting soil mix for planting your stunning China Doll plant. Commercially available potting soil mixes are usually sufficient.

Whenever you observe that the soil is not draining perfectly, you can mix perlite or sand to improve the drainage.


Consistent watering is vital to attaining a joyful and healthy China Doll plant. It would be best if you water it once the top inch of soil seems dry, the incidence of which will differ reliant on the season and atmosphere in your home.

Simultaneously, beware of overwatering the China Doll plant, as it cannot tolerate wet feet and will undoubtedly develop root rot if you leave it in water.

To avoid this problem, select a container with drain holes at its bottom. 

If you notice that the leaves of your China Doll plant are turning yellow or crunchy, that’s a clear hint that it’s not getting adequate water.

Similarly, black tips on your plant’s leaves are the indication that you are overwatering it.

Temperature and Humidity

Because of its subtropical origins, the China Doll plant loves warm and moist settings in your home. You must keep it in temperatures between 65 °F to 75 °F, and while it can endure in the typical dry domestic environments, it will bloom when you provide additional humidity.

To upsurge the humidity around your jolly China Doll plant, keep it in an area in your home that naturally boasts extra moistness, like your kitchen or bathroom.

Misting your plant regularly or placing it near a humidifier can also serve the purpose.


During spring and summer, you must feed your China Doll plant monthly with a well-adjusted liquid fertilizer after diluting it by half.

Once your plant’s progress seems slow in the latter months, you can reduce fertilizing to once every alternate month.

Pruning your China Doll Plant

Regular pruning is the principal method of care for your China Doll plant, and you must do it regularly to upkeep a desirable and lucrative plant.

There’s no ideal time of the year to prune your plant, so you can do so whenever you observe your plant becoming a bit rowdy.

Every few months, cut back some stems that seem slightly leggy, misshapen, or stems that are perishing.

Propagating your China Doll Plant

Propagate your alluring China Doll plant by stem cuttings. Propagating your plant isn’t impossible, but it may take extra hours and care than a few other varieties.

When using stem cuttings, make sure that they are green; never take them from the woody section of your plant.

You can place the stem cuttings directly in moist soil and cover it with a sheet of plastic covering to hold humidity. Ensure the soil around the cuttings is evenly moist all the time.

If the propagation is correct and successful, the roots must grow up in about three to four weeks.

For routine propagation, consider the following two methods:

Growing From Seed

The initial concern with seed propagation is obtaining a reliable resource. If you own a China Doll tree outdoors that flowers, you must wait up until the blossoms fade away and then gather the long seedpods as soon as they are dried out.

The seedlings are susceptible to damping off infection, and a fungicide soil drench works well to prevent the disease.

You can germinate in warm temperatures ranging from 27ºC (80ºF) to 30ºC (85ºF). Cover up the planting plate with transparent plastic to support humidity and maintain soil dampness.

Give your beautiful young plant bright indirect sunlight. After the initial genuine leaves arrive, strengthen them by eliminating the plastic wrap for brief periods until they can endure the natural atmosphere.

Stem Cuttings

Even your alluring young China Doll Plant has woody stems that can be tricky for you to propagate. Time is of the essence since it’s a fight to get the cuttings to generate roots before it decays. 

Use the green stem tips of your plant to make four-inch cuttings and cut off lower leaves.

Put the cuttings into a moist potting mix and wrap them with transparent plastic. A Few gardeners plunge the ends into rooting hormone initially.

Locate the cuttings in bright indirect illumination and keep hold of soil humidity.

Roots must appear in about three to four weeks. Progressively strengthen seedlings by eradicating the plastic for increasing intervals.

After developing the entire root system, pinch off the upper portion of the stem to urge branching.

Potting and Repotting your China Doll Plant

Less is more when we talk about repotting the China doll plant. This plant loves to be rootbound, so regular repotting or interference will cause leaf drop and an overall failure to flourish.

Barely repot your China doll plant when necessary. Make sure to expand its container size by merely one to two inches while doing it.

As a substitute for repotting, you can choose root pruning, which helps control the size of your doll plant.

Repotting A China Doll Plant

As we said earlier, China Doll Plant doesn’t appreciate alteration and shows displeasure by shedding its leaves on the floor. Repotting is at the highest of the list of undesirable changes for your china doll plant.

On the plus side, the china doll plant likes to be a bit rootbound, so the majority of gardeners indulge them with extra time in old quarters. They wait for many years between repots with no harmful effects.

A general rule is to repot your china doll plant once it requires watering more often than twice a week.

Here are a few suggestions to make repotting less hectic for your china doll plant and you:

  • Never repot your china doll plant unless it gets comfortable with the spot.
  • Increase the pot size to only one inch or perhaps two inches in diameter.
  • Ensure your plant container is strong enough to counterbalance the upper growth of your china doll pant.
  • Gently pull out the sides of rootball so you can easily use them to grow into the new soil.
  • Spread potting mix to the sides and under your plant root system, do not add dirt on the top-most soil line.
  • You must be attentive while watering your china doll plant right after repotting. As long as the roots are growing into the fresh soil, the vacant space keeps moisture for a much-enduring period, and it may cause root rot. 
  • Expect your china doll plant will experience leaf drops, but no need to panic. Cutting your plant back will let it regrow the dropped foliage as soon as it settles down.
  • Do not fertilize your plant for some months just after the repotting. It will allow the delicate new roots to grow without the threat of chemical burndown.
  • If your China Doll plant is exactly the size you would like, you can easily prune its roots and then repot it in a similar-sized pot. With appropriate care, it will rebound.

Tips for Planting A China Doll Plant

It’s essential to set your China Doll plant in an appropriate location and leave it there. If you move them over and over, they will fall off.

Expect your China Doll plant will shed leaves as you bring them home until it familiarizes itself with the environment.

A China Doll plant will come back robust after shedding leaves once it adapts to the environment or its strain gets remedies. Ensure cutting back bare limbs of your plant to make way for brand-new growth.

One little practice you can do is rotate your china doll plant each time you water it to keep its growth even.

The china doll plant can struggle with drought in the hot air. If this is the reason, try to boost humidity levels and never let the soil get dry.

It’s good to take the plant outside or shower it for a quick spray down. Always do this while watering, and put it back once the plant’s draining is over.

Common Pests and Diseases Your China Doll Plant Might Have

China doll plant is not particularly prone to pest or disease problems, but there are some afflictions to look out for in this gorgeous plant. Like most houseplants, your China doll plant is also at risk for scale, mealybug, and spider mites, when you keep it near a variety of other plants. You can treat these common pests with a natural pesticide, like neem oil. Mostly, the diseases your plant may experience are often fungal, such as leaf spots, and you can rectify them by decreasing the humidity around the plant to some extent.

Let’s see how to control them!

Leaf Spot

In the milieu of extreme temperature, high moistness, and inadequate aeration, the china doll plant’s leaves are liable to leaf spot infection.

Prevention and Control Methods of Leaf Spot Disease:

Whether your china doll plant is indoors or outdoors, you should strengthen aeration and light. Try to avoid long-time water retention on the plant’s leaf surface, which decreases the likelihood of leaf spot ailment. If you notice a slight amount of leaf damage, immediately detach and burn.

Spray 50% carbendazim WP 600 times liquid regularly once every fortnight, about 3 to 4 times repeatedly.

Scale Insects

Under the state of extreme temperature, elevated humidity, and poor aeration, specifically during the long period in the fall and winter season, the stem and leaf of your china doll plant are susceptible to scale insect damage.

Prevention and Control Methods of Scale Insects:

By strengthening aeration, well-lit settings, and paying consideration to controlling environmental moisture, you can save your china doll plant.

Fruitful cultivation may hatch the nymphs in the peak time, with 25% wettable powder and 1500 times the liquid spray.


The main damaging symptoms for your china doll plant’s leaves are wrinkle, curling, and uneven surface.  Usually, the time of manifestation is from summer to fall.

Extreme temperature and dry settings are favorable to the appearance of mites, and the incidence of these insect pests is fewer in moist environments.

Prevention and Control Methods for Mites:

You can use daktarin and acaricide agents to treat mites.


The green Peach aphid is a common type of aphid your plant might get. It causes wrinkles and deformities in your china doll plant.

Crystal spots of honeydew appear on your plant, and you can see them with the naked eye.

Prevention and Control Method for Aphids

Spray your china doll plant with zinc, sulfur, phosphorus, dimethyl oxide, and enemy kill to prevent aphids.

China Doll Plant Offering A Fancy Look to Your Home

China doll, a beautiful and alluring houseplant with its fantastic glossy green leaves, will glow any place in your home. You can have this plant indoors with minimum care and love to enjoy its presence.

Let’s see what makes it a must-have houseplant!

Moderate and indirect light

China doll plants need loads of moderate to bright indirect sunlight to thrive indoors. Pick a spot nearby a window, but always make sure to shelter your plant from any direct-severe rays, as they can burn up the plant’s sensitive leaves and trigger leaf decline.

The ornamental value of the china doll plant

China doll plant is a miniature and medium-sized houseplant. You can place this gorgeous plant on the balcony, bedroom, hall, and anywhere you love.

China doll plant with luxuriant green leaves, full of verve and energy, can be a flourishing plant that brings happiness to people.


China Doll Plant is non-toxic, and your pets or children are safe around it. However, it can cause the stomach to upset if chew it in a much quantity. Prevent your pets from chewing on it.


Is china doll an indoor plant?

A china doll is an indoor plant that is commonly grown as a houseplant. It requires very little care, and is therefore a great choice for beginner gardeners.

Is China doll plant fast growing?

The china doll plant is fast growing, but only reaches a height of between 4 and 6 feet at maturity. They are evergreen trees that are a part of the Bignoniaceae family, native to the subtropical mountainous areas of Asia. When cared for indoors, they are moderately fast growers.

Why is my China doll plant losing leaves?

The China doll is a flowering perennial that grows in tropical and subtropical areas such as Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. These plants are small and delicate with soft, waxy, dark green leaves and delicate white flowers. They grow well in bright filtered light indoors. If you overwater the China doll plant, the leaves will drop off. If you under- or overwater it, the leaves will drop off.

Wrap Up

China doll plant brings extra brightness to any corner of your home with its alluring evergreen leaves. When you keep it the way, it is meant to be, no doubt this plant will magnificently dominate every houseplant in your entire plant collection. This emerald plant is an easy-going and low-maintenance houseplant.

Follow all the tips and tricks of watering, soil conditions, temperature ranges, pruning, and much more, that your China dolls need to thrive marvelously. It requires much sunlight to spread its luminous effects in the surroundings.

Always watch out for any fade and curling leaves; they might be the result of some bugs your China doll is susceptible to so, keep your plant clean, save it from any damage and have a healthy houseplant you wish to place in your living space.

Written by Chris Buckland

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