China Doll Plant

A China Doll, Radermachera sinica, plant is a very fast growing plant with lacy-looking, glossy, green foliage that is native to the subtropical mountain regions of southern China and Taiwan. China Doll plants appear very compact and sturdy when you first buy them because of the growth regulators given to them by growers. These growth regulators make normal sized leaves grow on short stems. As this regulator in the soil is used up, a China Doll plant starts growing in all directions just like the outdoor plant it really is. Instead of a dense plant with lots of leaves, it soon becomes open and feathery. To keep the plant thick, full, and bushy, prune frequently. A China Doll plant, with its soft delicate leaves, makes a beautiful houseplant if placed in very bright light and frequently pinched back.

Plant Care


A China Doll Plant requires very bright light.


China Doll plants want to be kept on the dry side. Allow the top 50% of the soil to dry out before watering. The foliage may even turn a pale green when a China Doll plant needs water. Water around the entire soil surface so water reaches all of the roots.


Feed a China Doll plant monthly in the spring and summer when it is actively growing and every other month in the fall and winter with a balanced fertilizer at 1/2 the recommended strength.


A China Doll Plant does well in temperatures between 65°-75°F (18°-24°C). Keep China Doll Plants away from drafts and cold windowsills or the leaves fall off.


China Doll Plants grow well in basic household humidity.


A China Doll Plant gets flowers when grown as an outdoor plant, but not when grown indoors.


Spider Mites, aphids, and mealy bugs are attracted to China Doll plants. Because of its many leaves, it is difficult to get rid of houseplant pests on a China Doll plant. Check for insects every week as a precaution.


China Doll plants are prone to fungal infections that can cause the houseplant disease called Leaf Spot. Providing good air circulation and keeping the leaves dry helps prevent Leaf Spot disease.


Use a rich well-aerated soil that drains quickly for a China Doll plant. Add sand or perlite to loosen the soil if necessary.


Keep a China Doll plant well-pruned at all times, otherwise the plant becomes leggy, thin, and unsightly. When pruning a China Doll plant, always allow a few leaves to remain on each stem to produce food for the roots.


China Doll houseplants are propagated using stem cuttings.

Poisonous Plant Info

A China Doll plant is a non-poisonous houseplant.


All of the Leaves on an Entire Stem of My China Doll Plant Are Drying Up and Falling Off. If I Water It More Will They Come Back?

Your China Doll plant probably got too dry and that part of the plant is dead. You can’t save the stem and leaves once they become crisp. Cut that section off and new foliage will grow back.

There Are Tiny White Sticky Balls on My China Doll Plant. They Look Like Cotton. What Are They?

The white sticky balls on your China Doll plant are Mealy Bugs. If there are just a few, dip a Q-tip in alcohol and wipe them off; for a large infestation spray the entire plant with the green solution (recipe in the Glossary). Repeat the spraying every 10 days for at least a month

My China Doll Plant Has Leaves at the Top but the Stems Below Are Bare and So Thin That They Are Bending Over. What Should I Do?

Prune your China Doll plant back by at least 2/3’s and move it to a very bright location. Your plant shouldl grow back with stronger stems and lots of foliage.

Why Are the Green Leaves on My China Doll Plant Falling Off?

China Doll plants lose green leaves when there is an abrupt change in watering, temperature, light, or if you repot it. Be sure the soil isn’t too wet.

All of the Stems on My China Doll Plant and All of the Leaves Are Drooping as Though It Needs Water, but the Soil Is Wet.

You’ve over-watered your China doll Plant so much and so often that the roots have rotted. You can try cutting your plant all the way back and allowing the soil to thoroughly dry out. If there are any roots left they may put out some new growth. More realistically, your China Doll plant may be headed for the trashcan.