China Doll Plant Care: How to Grow & Maintain Radermachera Sinica

China Doll Plant is a gorgeous houseplant. It is now a widespread and popular plant that is used to bring glossy greenery to your home. However, the plant needs intense care, watering supervision, and maintenance. And, this blog will make it easy for you.

China Doll, also known as Emerald tree and Serpent tree, is a mesmerizing and delicate beauty that never fails to impress. It is an attractive plant with green foliage. Its light green glossary textured leaves are enough to melt one’s heart.

Are you looking for such beauty for your home? Then this blog is for you. Read further to learn more about it.

History And Habitat

A variety of this type of beauty is native to sub-tropical regions such as northern India and southern China. China Doll is an evergreen plant; grown outdoors, and it grows up to 25-30 feet and attains 3-8 feet when grown indoors.

Talking about its flowers, China Doll blooms in clusters. These flowers are short-lived and bloom at night and shut in the morning. You would be amazed to know that China Doll does not bloom when planted indoors. But some old specimens tend to produce short flowers.

Botanical NameRadermachera Sinica
Common NameChina Doll Plant, Emerald tree, Serpent tree
Plant TypeHouseplant
Hardiness Zones10-12 USDA
Bloom PeriodMid-spring
Growth Ratefast growers
Flower ColorWhite or Yellowish white
Mature Size3-8 feet
Sunlight ExposurePartial to full sun
WateringRegular watering
Soil Requirementsneed moist but well-drained soil
Optimal Soil pHNeutral to acidic

How to Take Care of China Doll Plant (Radermachera Sinica)

Radermachera Sinica is a houseplant that grows well when given the right environment and proper care. However, these plants are very delicate when it comes to repotting. So, don’t try to fiddle them; otherwise, they will eventually die. 

Let us help you with its caring and maintenance. China Doll must meet the following requirements to flourish:

Soil Needs

China doll plant flourish in moist, well-drained soil. One can use the regular potting soil, but for extra drainage, you can add sand.

Lightening Requirements

China Doll needs a good amount of sunlight, but indirect sunlight or artificial plant light also works well. Around 4-5 hours of bright sunlight is sufficient for perfect growth.

You may need to supplement limited light with indoor grow lights if you do not have access to sufficient sunlight.


While watering China Doll, one must be extra careful. The beautiful plant does not survive when the water is too low or too much. It is essential to keep the soil moist but well-drained.

You can recognize the perfect growth of China Doll through the leaves. But, if leaves turn yellow, the plant is not getting enough watering care, thus resulting in yellowing leaves. And if leaves turn black/ blue, then the plant is getting too much water. So, be extra cautious while watering.

Temperature/ Humidity

The perfect temperature for China Doll is 65-75degree F. The point to note is that do not keep this beauty under drafts and wind as it can not tolerate them.

Fertilizer Requirement and Routine

For effective growth, the China Doll needs 10-10-10 fertilizer that is 50% diluted. As a result, these plants require less feeding in their inactive growth period.

It is essential to continue fertilizing for four months from potting. However, China Doll grows better if slow-release fertilizers are used twice a year.

When And How To Prune China Doll

For a successful and beautiful China Doll, regular pruning is necessary. There is no particular time to prune this beauty. But, whenever you feel the plant is not growing enough or the leaves are changing color, it’s time for pruning.

You should even trim them regularly and take special care of watering them from time to time. Finally, remove the stems or leaves that are rotting or the branches growing in the wrong direction. 

If the branches are becoming long and floppy, you need to prune them immediately and ensure regular pruning. Pruning will make the China Doll grow faster and happier.

Radermachera Sinica Plant

How to Grow Radermachera Sinica

Easy Steps How to Grow China Doll

China Doll is a beautiful plant but needs good care and attention. Learn growing this beauty in few easy steps:

  1. Place the potting mix in a container and let it sit for a few hours.
  2. Find a reputable seed source.
  3. Also, check if the seed is disease-free.
  4. This stage of the process calls for the use of soil drenches containing fungicides.
  5. Perform the germination process when the temperature is 80-85 degrees F.
  6. Give sufficient water. Remember, not too much, not too less to ensure moist soil.
  7. Planting trays can be covered in clear plastic to retain moisture.
  8. Keep them in direct sunlight and take due care about watering them.
  9. Your plant is ready to beautify your home.

Want to spread this beauty all over your garden? If yes, then learn how to propagate.

Steps to Propagate China Doll Plant

There are two ways in which you can propagate China Doll. One is growing from seeds, and another is through stem cutting. 

Let’s learn from both ways in detail:

Growing From A Seed

  • Look for a reputable seed source.
  • Take a container, fill it with soil.
  • Always remember, the germination temperature should be from 80-85 degrees.
  • Dig the seed, ensure the soil is well saturated.
  • For moisture retention, you can also wrap the tray in plastic.
  • Give bright indirect sunlight to the young plant.
  • It takes a few weeks for the tiny leaves to appear.
  • During this time, you can remove the plastic
  • Your China Doll is ready to blossom.

Stem Cutting

  • Use a green stem for propagating through stem cutting.
  • Make sure all leaves are removed from the stem.
  • Now, cut the green stem tips into four-inch lengths.
  • Cut the stems and insert them in the soil and cover them with plastic to retain moisture.
  • Give proper sunlight and enough water.
  • After three to four weeks, you will see roots appearing. At this point, remove the plastic.
  • Let the root system develop and then pinch off the top of the stem for branching.

Potting And Repotting of Radermachera Sinica

Repotting Radermachera Sinica plant

You would not appreciate reading this, but China Doll is not a frequent repotting plant. It is the plant that grows well when it is root-bound. The more frequently you disturb it, it will soon die. Therefore, one should only re-pot the China Doll if it is necessary.

If repotting is necessary, then choose a container that is two-three inches bigger than the previous one. But, of course, repotting is not the only alternative. Root pruning is another option that will help you control the size of your China doll.

How to Safely Repot China Doll Plant

  • Consider choosing a container that is enough to counterbalance the top growth.
  • Add potting mix to the soil underneath but never on top.
  • Don’t panic at the leaves dropping. Instead, relax; they will regrow to ensure they have some indirect light source pointing towards the plant. 
  • Don’t fertilize after repotting; give it enough time to settle and grow without chemicals.
  • Be attentive towards watering China Doll after repotting as it may trigger rotting.

Common China Doll Plant Problems

Common Pest And Diseases

There are no such specific diseases that China Doll is prone to, but they are at risk for scale, mealybug, and spider mites. Further, common pests, such as aphids and other sucking insects, can easily harm China Doll.

Steps Prevention And Control

But don’t worry, we have a solution for them too. Follow these simple tricks to keep away the diseases.

  • You should inspect leaves regularly as leaves are an easy target place for infection.
  • Regular showers are helpful to keep away spider mites.
  • Use Isopropyl alcohol for the affected area.
  • Use natural insecticides like neem oil.
  • Coat leaves with low-impact solutions as pests should come in direct contact for effective results.
  • Repeat this process three to six times until the infestation goes away.

Follow these tips and tricks, and you are sorted.

Is There White Fungus on China Doll Plant?

White fungus on China Doll is nothing but mealybugs. Mealybugs are cotton-like structures that attack houseplants and are very destructive. These can crawl and affect the tender new growth of a plant. They leave spots on leaves and make them yellow; also, they make the stem weak.

What to Do About Mealybugs and How to Prevent Them?

When mealybugs are immature and crawling, they can be treated with yellow cards. And when mealybugs are mature, they can be treated with green solutions. So keep these things in mind while performing solutions:

  • Be sure your plant is well-watered.
  • Do not spray the solution in direct sun.
  • Repeat this treatment after ten days to avoid any further spread of mealybugs.

Why is My China Doll Plant Dropping Leaves?

Firstly, you don’t need to panic when your China Doll plant is dropping leaves. They will grow back if you follow these steps carefully:

  • Carefully cut the stems back by 2/3 to 50%.
  • Do not water for some days to prevent the rotting of roots.
  • Regular pruning can also be helpful in this case.

We know how difficult it is to handle China Doll but that difficulties are worth seeing how China Doll beautifies your home.

Frequently Asked Questions

How big does a china doll plant get?

The family Bignoniaceae has plants that are called China doll plants. If grown indoors, the plants grow moderately fast. China Doll reaches five to six feet at maturity. These are enough to bring greenery to your home.

Are china doll plants toxic to cats?

China Doll is a non-toxic plant and is not dangerous for cats.

Is the china doll plant poisonous to humans?

China Doll is not at all poisonous to humans. It is even safe for kids but can cause a stomach upset if eaten in quantity.

What does a china doll plant look like?

Plants with glossy leaves, such as the China doll plant, are beautiful and lush. Native to southern China and Taiwan, you can find this plant growing in the subtropical mountains. It is a dense plant that grows in all directions.

The plant is very soft and delicate and makes a beautiful houseplant if you place it in bright light.

Can china doll plants live outside?

Plants such as China Doll can live outdoors without any problem. It grows well with the hardiness zones of 10 and 11. While growing China Doll outdoors, make sure you water the plant enough. Keep the plant in sunlight but take care of the wind and drafts as China Doll can’t tolerate it. It grows 25-30 feet when planted outside.

My china doll plant has white spots.

These white spots are tiny webs made by spider mites between leaves and stems. Suppose you find these white spots that make sure to wash the China doll regularly. It will wash off the spider mites and even their eggs.

1. USDA Plants Database. United States Department of Agriculture

2. University of Florida